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A "datafied" web stack built in PostgreSQL



Aquameta is an experimental project, still in early stages of development. It is not suitable for production development and should not be used in an untrusted or mission-critical environment.


Aquameta is an "all database" web development stack, an attempt to make web development more modular, simple, coherent and fun by making everything data. See Motivation for more.

Under the hood, Aquameta is organized into seven PostgreSQL extensions, that each corresponds to a layer or tool in a typical web stack. The database schema contains ~60 tables, ~50 views and ~90 stored procedures that together make a minimalist, fairly unopinionated web stack that should be familiar to most web developers, except that it's all in the database. A thin Golang daemon handles the connection to the database and runs a web server.

Core Extensions

  • meta - Writable system catalog for PostgreSQL, making most database admin tasks (e.g. CREATE TABLE ...) possible by changing live data. Makes the database self-aware, and makes it possible to represent schema and procedures as data.
  • bundle - Version control system similar to git but for database rows instead of files.
  • event - Hooks for monitoring changes to tables, rows and columns for inserts, updates and deletes using triggers and fire off events via PostgreSQL NOTIFY.
  • filesystem - Makes the file system accessible from SQL.
  • endpoint - Minimalist web request handlers, implemented as PostgreSQL procedures: A REST API, static recources, function maps, WebSocket events and URL-pattern templates.
  • widget - Web component framework for building modular user interface components. Each widget is a row in the database with columns for HTML, CSS and Javascript, and a mechanism for attaching JS dependencies.
  • semantics - Schema decorators, for describing tables and columns, and binding custom UI widgets handlers for display and edit.

Together, these extensions make a simple, fairly un-opinionated web stack (other than that whole all-data thing).

User Interface

On top of the core extensions, Aquameta has a web-based IDE. Check out the demos and such on youtube.


The web stack is very complicated, and frankly a bit of a mess. Aquameta's philosophy is that the cause of this mess is the underlying information model of "files plus syntax". Under the hood, web stacks have structure, but that structure is latent and heterogeneous. The heirarchical file system isn't adequate for handling the level of complexity in the web stack.

Putting things in the database makes them uniform and clean. There are many architectural advantages, but to highlight a few:

  • An all-data web stack means that the various layers of the stack have a shared information model. As such, you can combine various layers of the stack into a single bundle with ease, because it's all just data. Whether a bundle be an entire app, a Javascript dependency, a collection of user data, some database schema and functions, or any other way slice and dice a project, as long as it is all data, it makes a single coherent bundle.
  • When all the layers are data, you can make tools that work with data, generally, and they can apply to all the layers of the stack at the same time.

The result is a vast increase in potential for modularity -- reusable components. That means we can share code and data in a much more effective way, and build on each other's work more coherently than in the file-based paradigm.


Coming soon?

Install From Source

  1. Install PostgreSQL version 13 or higher. Once it's installed, make sure the pg_config command is in your path. Then create an empty database that Aquameta will be installed into, and then create yourself a superuser, typically the same name as your unix username:
# make sure pg_config is present
pg_config --version

# sudo to the postgres user and create a user
sudo -iu postgres
createdb aquameta
psql aquameta
aquameta=# CREATE ROLE eric; -- use your unix username here instead of 'eric'
aquameta=# ALTER ROLE eric superuser login password 'changeme';
  1. Clone the bleeding-edge source and submodules via git (or download the latest source release):
git clone --recurse-submodules
cd aquameta/
  1. Install Aquameta's extensions into PostgreSQL's extensions/ directory. If you get an error like make: command not found, install make via the build-essential package, e.g. sudo apt install build-essential.
cd scripts/
sudo ./
cd ../
  1. Install Golang version 1.18 or greater, then build the ./aquameta binary from aquameta's root directory:
go --version
go build

This should create a binary called ./aquameta.

  1. Edit conf/boot.conf to match your PostgreSQL settings.
cd conf/
cp boot.toml.dist boot.toml
vi boot.toml
cd ../
  1. Start the Aquameta server:
./aquameta --help
./aquameta -c conf/boot.toml

When Aquameta starts, it checks to see if the core extensions are installed on the database, and if they are not, it will automatically install them. Then it starts the webserver and provides a URL where you can start using the IDE.

Congrats! The end.


See the (paltry) documentation.