The official C++ client API for PostgreSQL
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Welcome to libpqxx, the C++ API to the PostgreSQL database management system.

This package requires PostgreSQL to be installed -- including the C headers for client development. The library builds on top of PostgreSQL's standard C API, libpq, though this fact is almost completely hidden from programs that use libpqxx.

Further information, as well as updates, a mailing list, and a bug reporting system can be found at

There are also ready-made libpqxx packages available for several systems: Debian packages are available on any Debian download mirror, Mark Round maintains a Blastwave package for Solaris, and Arjen Baart has made RPM packages (source and i386 binaries) available on

You may want to check these before going to the trouble of building libpqxx yourself.

Building libpqxx

The "Unix-like" section applies to systems that look like Unix: GNU/Linux, Apple OSX and the BSD family, AIX, HP-UX, Irix, Solaris, etc. Microsoft Windows with a Unix-like environment such as Cygwin or MinGW installed should also be able to use these intructions.

There is a separate section below for Windows users without such an environment.

On Unix-like systems

For the Unix-like systems the procedure is the standard "configure, make, make install" sequence. In order to run the test suite, you'll also need to set up a database for the tests to play with.

Run the "configure" script with the --help option to see build and installation options. You need to get these right before you compile. Then:

    ./configure # (plus any options you find appropriate)

This will compile the library. You'll also want to run the test suite to make sure that everything works. To prepare for that, you need to set up a disposable test database that the test suite to play with. You'll want password-less authentication to avoid having to log in too many times.

In this example, the test database is called pqxx-test and runs on a server at IP address Before running the test, make sure you can log into your test database with psql, the command-line SQL shell that comes with PostgreSQL:

    PGHOST= PGDATฺABASE=pqxx-test psql

(This is using "env" as a way of setting shell variables for the duration of one command; your shell may have different ways of setting variables.)

Once you have that working, use the same login parameters to run the libpqxx test suite:

    make PGHOST= PGDATABASE=pqxx-test check

Assuming that the test suite runs successfully, you are now ready to install. You'll typically need superuser privileges to do run this command:

    make install

Now you should be able to link your own programs with libpqxx.

If something went wrong along the way, or what you have isn't quite what you want, it's time to move on to that fineprint that we hinted at earlier.

1. Configure

A word on the configure script. It needs to find the C header and the binary for libpq, the C-level client library, so that the libpqxx build procedure can make use of them.

The configure script finds these files by running a script called pg_config that comes with PostgresQL. If you have postgres installed, pg_config should be somewhere on your system. It will "know" where the relevant files are. The configure script just needs to run it.

Make sure that the folder containing pg_config is in your executable path before you run the configure script, or it will fail with a message like:

configure: error: PostgreSQL configuration script pg_config was not found.

If you don't want to have pg_config in your path for whatever reason, or you have multiple PostgreSQL installations on your system (each with their own copy of pg_config) and wish to override the default version, add an option like


to your "configure" command line. Here /home/me/postgres/bin/pg_config is just an example of where your preferred copy of pg_config might be. This would tell the configure script that you wish to build a libpqxx based on the postgres version found in /home/me/postgres.

About installing: if you wish to install libpqxx in a custom location, such as your home directory /home/me, you can specify this to the configure script before you build libpqxx. You select the installation location using the configure script's --prefix option, e.g.:

    ./configure --prefix=/home/me

A custom location can be useful to keep locally-build software separate from packaged software. Conventional installation locations for custom software on Unix-like systems are /usr/local and /opt.

Custom installation locations can also be handy if you don't have administrator rights on the machine you're working on!

The configure scripts supports many other options to tweak how and where libpqxx is to be built and installed; try the --help option to get an overview if you're interested.

If configuration just absolutely plain won't work for whatever reason: take a look in the config/sample-headers/ directory. Here you will find configuration headers for various compilers and libpq versions. Pick the config-internal-*.h and config-public-*.h headers for the compiler and libpq version most closely matching your own, and see if they work for you. You may also want to tweak them manually.

2. Make

One problem some people have run into at this stage is that the header files for PostgreSQL need the OpenSSL header files to be installed. If this happens to you, make sure openssl is installed and its headers are in your compiler's include path.

3. Make Check

"Make check" is where you compile and run the test suite that verifies the library's functionality.

The "make check" procedure needs a database to play with. It will create and drop various tables in that database. Use a throwaway database for this or risk losing data!

(Actually the test only manipulates tables whose names start with "pqxx" so in practice the risk will be small. But better safe than sorry: use a disposable test database separate from your own data.)

To direct the test suite to the right database, set some or all of the following environment variables as needed for "make check":

    PGDATABASE  (name of database; defaults to your user name)
    PGHOST      (database server; defaults to local machine)
    PGPORT      (TCP port to connect to; default is 5432)
    PGUSER      (your PostgreSQL user ID; defaults to your login name)
    PGPASSWORD  (your PostgreSQL password, if needed)

Further environment variables that may be of use to you are documented in the libpq documentation and in the manpage for Postgres' command-line client, psql.

Setting environment variables works differently depending on your shell, but try one of these:

    export VARIABLE


    set VARIABLE=value

Try printing the variable afterwards to make sure. The command is normally

    echo $VARIABLE

If you set the variable successfully, it should print the value you assigned. It will print nothing if you failed to set the variable.

On Unix-like systems, postgres may be listening on a Unix domain socket instead of a TCP port. The socket will appear as a file somewhere in the filesystem with a name like .s.PGSQL.5432. To connect to this type of socket, set PGHOST to the directory where you find this file, as an absolute path. For example, it may be "/tmp" or "/var/run" or "/var/run/postgresql". The leading slash tells libpq that this is not a network address but a local Unix socket.

4. Make Install

This is where you install the libpqxx library and header files to your system.

Assuming this succeeds, you should now be able to build your own programs by adding the location of the header files (e.g. /usr/local/pqxx/include) to your compiler's include path when compiling your application. Similarly, add the location of the library binary (e.g. /usr/local/pqxx/lib) to your library search path when linking your application. See the documentation and the test programs for more information on using libpqxx.

If you link with the dynamic version of the library, you may find that your program fails to run because the run-time loader cannot find the library.

There are several ways around that. Pick the first option that works for you: (i) by linking to the static version of the library, or (ii) adding a link to the dynamic libpqxx library somewhere in your system's standard library locations, or (iii) adding libpqxx's lib/ directory to your loader's search path before running your program.

On Unix-like systems including GNU/Linux, the loader's search path can be extended by setting the LD_LIBRARY_PATH variable.


On Microsoft Windows

Project files for Visual C++ are provided in the win32 directory, along with some other Windows-specific material. You'll need at least version 2010 of the VC compiler.

Instead of going this route, you may want to try if the Unix build procedure works for you instead, e.g. using the Cygwin tools. In theory it should be possible to run the configure script and build with Visual C++ or any other compiler.

If you do proceed without the configure script, you'll need to copy the most appropriate compile-time configuration files from various subdirectories in config/example-headers/ to include/pqxx. You may need to tweak them manually to define the exact features your system, compiler, and PostgreSQL versions support. Normally the configure script would do this for you.

Before trying to compile with Visual C++, you'll at least need to copy the file win32/common-sample to win32/common, and edit the latter to reflect the proper paths to your PostgreSQL headers and the libpq library. See the win32 subdirectory for more documentation.

Manual Configuration: config-*-*.h

Normally, on any vaguely Unix-like system, the configuration headers (called config-internal-*.h for the library's internal use, config-public-*.h for both the library and client programs) are generated from All these files, once generated, are situated in the include/pqxx/ directory.

The configitems file lists all configuration items and where they go; but see win32/INSTALL.txt for a detailed description of how these files work.

Getting the compiler-related configuration right can take several stages of trying to build, looking at error messages, looking for configuration items that may be related, changing them, and building again. If nothing seems to help, try the libpqxx mailing list or register a bug report or support request on the website. Be sure to read the FAQ though, because there are some known problems with various compilers.

Windows-Specific Build Problems

If you're using Microsoft's compiler, you may find that some features of the library are left out in order to work around compiler limitations. Several other workarounds for compiler bugs are automatically enabled when using Visual C++, regardless of whether you use the configure script.

Another problem specific to Windows is that apparently it doesn't let you free memory in a DLL that was allocated in the main program or in another DLL, or vice versa. This can cause trouble when setting your own notice handlers to process error or warning output. For this reason, among others, recommended practice is to build libpqxx as a static library, not a DLL.


The doc/ directory contains API reference documentation and a tutorial, both in HTML format. These are also available online.

For more detailed information, look at the header files themselves. These are in the include/pqxx/ directory. The reference documentation is extracted from the headers using a program called Doxygen.

When learning about programming with libpqxx, you'll want to start off by reading about the connection_base class and its children, as well as the transaction_base class.

For programming examples, take a look at the test programs in the test/ directory. If you don't know how a certain function or class is used, try searching the test programs for that name.

Programming with libpqxx

Your first program will involve the libpqxx classes "connection" (see headers pqxx/connection_base.hxx and pqxx/connection.hxx), and work (a convenience typedef for transaction<> which conforms to the interface defined in pqxx/transaction_base.hxx).

These *.hxx headers are not the ones you include in your program. Instead, include the versions without filename suffix (i.e. pqxx/connection_base etc.) and they will include the .hxx files for you. This was done so that includes are in standard C++ style (as in <iostream> etc.), but an editor will still recognize them as files containing C++ code.

Continuing the list of classes, you will most likely also need the result class (pqxx/result.hxx). In a nutshell, you create a connection based on a Postgres connection string (see below), create a work in the context of that connection, and run one or more queries on the work which return result objects. The results are containers of rows of data, each of which you can treat as an array of strings: one for each field in the row. It's that simple.

Here is a simple example program to get you going, with full error handling:

#include <iostream>
#include <pqxx/pqxx>

int main()
        pqxx::connection C;
        std::cout << "Connected to " << C.dbname() << std::endl;
        pqxx::work W(C);

        pqxx::result R = W.exec("SELECT name FROM employee");

        std::cout << "Found " << R.size() << "employees:" << std::endl;
        for (auto row: R)
            std::cout << row[0].c_str() << std::endl;

        std::cout << "Doubling all employees' salaries..." << std::endl;
        W.exec("UPDATE employee SET salary=salary*2");

        std::cout << "Making changes definite: ";
        std::cout << "ok." << std::endl;
    catch (const std::exception &e)
        std::cerr << e.what() << std::endl;
        return 1;
    return 0;

Connection strings

Postgres connection strings state which database server you wish to connect to, under which username, using which password, and so on. Their format is defined in the documentation for libpq, the C client interface for PostgreSQL. Alternatively, these values may be defined by setting certain environment variables as documented in e.g. the manual for psql, the command line interface to PostgreSQL. Again the definitions are the same for libpqxx-based programs.

The connection strings and variables are not fully and definitively documented here; this document will tell you just enough to get going. Check the PostgreSQL documentation for authoritative information.

The connection string consists of attribute=value pairs separated by spaces, e.g. "user=john password=1x2y3z4". The valid attributes include:

host Name of server to connect to, or the full file path (beginning with a slash) to a Unix-domain socket on the local machine. Defaults to "/tmp". Equivalent to (but overrides) environment variable PGHOST.

hostaddr IP address of a server to connect to; mutually exclusive with "host".

port Port number at the server host to connect to, or socket file name extension for Unix-domain connections. Equivalent to (but overrides) environment variable PGPORT.

dbname Name of the database to connect to. A single server may host multiple databases. Defaults to the same name as the current user's name. Equivalent to (but overrides) environment variable PGDATABASE.

user User name to connect under. This defaults to the name of the current user, although PostgreSQL users are not necessarily the same thing as system users.

requiressl If set to 1, demands an encrypted SSL connection (and fails if no SSL connection can be created).

Settings in the connection strings override the environment variables, which in turn override the default, on a variable-by-variable basis. You only need to define those variables that require non-default values.

Linking with libpqxx

To link your final program, make sure you link to both the C-level libpq library and the actual C++ library, libpqxx. On most Unix-style compilers, this can be done using the options

    -lpq -lpqxx

while linking. Note that both libraries must be in your link path, so the linker knows where to find them. Any dynamic libraries you use must also be in a place where the loader can find them when loading your program at runtime.

Some users have reported problems using the above syntax, however, particularly when multiple versions of libpqxx are partially or incorrectly installed on the system. If you get massive link errors, try removing the "-lpqxx" argument from the command line and replacing it with the name of the libpqxx library binary instead. That's typically libpqxx.a, but you'll have to add the path to its location as well, e.g. /usr/local/pqxx/lib/libpqxx.a. This will ensure that the linker will use that exact version of the library rather than one found elsewhere on the system, and eliminate worries about the exact right version of the library being installed with your program..