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Build Postgres Extensions with Rust!

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pgrx is a framework for developing PostgreSQL extensions in Rust and strives to be as idiomatic and safe as possible.

pgrx supports Postgres 12 through Postgres 16.

Feel free to join our Discord Server.

Key Features

  • A fully managed development environment with cargo-pgrx
    • cargo pgrx new: Create new extensions quickly
    • cargo pgrx init: Install new (or register existing) PostgreSQL installs
    • cargo pgrx run: Run your extension and interactively test it in psql (or pgcli)
    • cargo pgrx test: Unit-test your extension across multiple PostgreSQL versions
    • cargo pgrx package: Create installation packages for your extension
    • More in the!
  • Target Multiple Postgres Versions
    • Support from Postgres 12 to Postgres 16 from the same codebase
    • Use Rust feature gating to use version-specific APIs
    • Seamlessly test against all versions
  • Automatic Schema Generation
  • Safety First
    • Translates Rust panic!s into Postgres ERRORs that abort the transaction, not the process
    • Memory Management follows Rust's drop semantics, even in the face of panic! and elog(ERROR)
    • #[pg_guard] procedural macro to ensure the above
    • Postgres Datums are Option<T> where T: FromDatum
      • NULL Datums are safely represented as Option::<T>::None
  • First-class UDF support
    • Annotate functions with #[pg_extern] to expose them to Postgres
    • Return pgrx::iter::SetOfIterator<'a, T> for RETURNS SETOF
    • Return pgrx::iter::TableIterator<'a, T> for RETURNS TABLE (...)
    • Create trigger functions with #[pg_trigger]
  • Easy Custom Types
    • #[derive(PostgresType)] to use a Rust struct as a Postgres type
      • By default, represented as a CBOR-encoded object in-memory/on-disk, and JSON as human-readable
      • Provide custom in-memory/on-disk/human-readable representations
    • #[derive(PostgresEnum)] to use a Rust enum as a Postgres enum
    • Composite types supported with the pgrx::composite_type!("Sample") macro
  • Server Programming Interface (SPI)
    • Safe access into SPI
    • Transparently return owned Datums from an SPI context
  • Advanced Features
    • Safe access to Postgres' MemoryContext system via pgrx::PgMemoryContexts
    • Executor/planner/transaction/subtransaction hooks
    • Safely use Postgres-provided pointers with pgrx::PgBox<T> (akin to alloc::boxed::Box<T>)
    • #[pg_guard] proc-macro for guarding extern "C" Rust functions that need to be passed into Postgres
    • Access Postgres' logging system through eprintln!-like macros
    • Direct unsafe access to large parts of Postgres internals via the pgrx::pg_sys module
    • New features added regularly!

System Requirements

PGRX has been tested to work on x86_64⹋ and aarch64⹋ Linux and aarch64 macOS targets. It is currently expected to work on other "Unix" OS with possible small changes, but those remain untested. So far, some of PGRX's build tooling works on Windows, but not all.

  • A Rust toolchain: rustc, cargo, and rustfmt. The recommended way to get these is from
  • git
  • libclang 5.0 or greater (required by bindgen)
    • Ubuntu: apt install libclang-dev or apt install clang
    • RHEL: yum install clang
  • GCC 7 or newer
  • PostgreSQL's build dependencies
    • Debian-likes: sudo apt-get install build-essential libreadline-dev zlib1g-dev flex bison libxml2-dev libxslt-dev libssl-dev libxml2-utils xsltproc ccache pkg-config
    • RHEL-likes: sudo yum install -y bison-devel readline-devel zlib-devel openssl-devel wget ccache && sudo yum groupinstall -y 'Development Tools'

† PGRX has no MSRV policy, thus may require the latest stable version of Rust, available via Rustup

‡ A local PostgreSQL server installation is not required. cargo pgrx can download and compile PostgreSQL versions on its own.

⹋ PGRX has not been tested to work on 32-bit: the library assumes an 8-byte pg_sys::Datum which may result in unexpected behavior on 32-bit, like dropping 4 bytes of data from int8 and double. This may not be "unsound" in itself, as it is "merely" illogical, but it may undermine otherwise-reasonable safety assumptions of PGRX extensions. We do not plan to add support without considerable ongoing technical and financial contributions.

How to: GCC 7 on CentOS 7

It is not recommended to use CentOS 7 for PGRX development, even if it works.

Recommended Linux distributions include recent Debian, Fedora, and Ubuntu.

In order to use GCC 7, install scl and enter the GCC 7 development environment:

yum install centos-release-scl
yum install devtoolset-7
scl enable devtoolset-7 bash
How to: Homebrew on macOS

As macOS provides no package manager, it is recommended to use for C dependencies.

In particular, you will probably need these if you don't have them already:

brew install git icu4c pkg-config

Getting Started

Before anything else, install the system dependencies.

Now install the cargo-pgrx sub-command.

cargo install --locked cargo-pgrx

Once cargo-pgrx is ready you can initialize the "PGRX Home" directory:

cargo pgrx init

The init command downloads all currently supported PostgreSQL versions, compiles them to ${PGRX_HOME}, and runs initdb.

It's also possible to use an existing (user-writable) PostgreSQL install, or install a subset of versions, see the of cargo-pgrx for details.

Now you can begin work on a specific pgrx extension:

cargo pgrx new my_extension
cd my_extension

This will create a new directory for the extension crate.

$ tree 
├── Cargo.toml
├── my_extension.control
├── sql
└── src

2 directories, 3 files

The new extension includes an example, so you can go ahead and run it right away.

cargo pgrx run

This compiles the extension to a shared library, copies it to the specified Postgres installation, starts that Postgres instance and connects you to a database named the same as the extension.

Once cargo-pgrx drops us into psql we can load the extension and do a SELECT on the example function.

my_extension=# CREATE EXTENSION my_extension;

my_extension=# SELECT hello_my_extension();
 Hello, my_extension
(1 row)

For more details on how to manage pgrx extensions see Managing pgrx extensions.


As new Postgres versions are supported by pgrx, you can re-run the pgrx init process to download and compile them:

cargo pgrx init

Mapping of Postgres types to Rust

Postgres Type Rust Type (as Option<T>)
bytea Vec<u8> or &[u8] (zero-copy)
text String or &str (zero-copy)
varchar String or &str (zero-copy) or char
"char" i8
smallint i16
integer i32
bigint i64
oid u32
real f32
double precision f64
bool bool
json pgrx::Json(serde_json::Value)
jsonb pgrx::JsonB(serde_json::Value)
date pgrx::Date
time pgrx::Time
timestamp pgrx::Timestamp
time with time zone pgrx::TimeWithTimeZone
timestamp with time zone pgrx::TimestampWithTimeZone
anyarray pgrx::AnyArray
anyelement pgrx::AnyElement
box pgrx::pg_sys::BOX
point pgrx::pg_sys::Point
tid pgrx::pg_sys::ItemPointerData
cstring &core::ffi::CStr
inet pgrx::Inet(String) -- TODO: needs better support
numeric pgrx::Numeric<P, S> or pgrx::AnyNumeric
void ()
ARRAY[]::<type> Vec<Option<T>> or pgrx::Array<T> (zero-copy)
int4range pgrx::Range<i32>
int8range pgrx::Range<i64>
numrange pgrx::Range<Numeric<P, S>> or pgrx::Range<AnyRange>
daterange pgrx::Range<pgrx::Date>
tsrange pgrx::Range<pgrx::Timestamp>
tstzrange pgrx::Range<pgrx::TimestampWithTimeZone>
NULL Option::None
internal pgrx::PgBox<T> where T is any Rust/Postgres struct
uuid pgrx::Uuid([u8; 16])

There are also IntoDatum and FromDatum traits for implementing additional type conversions, along with #[derive(PostgresType)] and #[derive(PostgresEnum)] for automatic conversion of custom types.

Note that text and varchar are converted to &str or String, so PGRX assumes any Postgres database you use it with has UTF-8-compatible encoding. Currently, PGRX will panic if it detects this is incorrect, to inform you, the programmer, that you were wrong. However, it is best to not rely on this behavior, as UTF-8 validation can be a performance hazard. This problem was previously assumed to simply not happen, and PGRX may decide to change the details of how it does UTF-8 validation checks in the future in order to mitigate performance hazards.

The default Postgres server encoding is SQL_ASCII, and it guarantees neither ASCII nor UTF-8 (as Postgres will then accept but ignore non-ASCII bytes). For best results, always use PGRX with UTF-8, and set database encodings explicitly upon database creation.

Digging Deeper

Caveats & Known Issues

There's probably more than are listed here, but a primary things of note are:

  • Threading is not really supported. Postgres is strictly single-threaded. As such, if you do venture into using threads, those threads MUST NOT call any internal Postgres function, or otherwise use any Postgres-provided pointer. There's also a potential problem with Postgres' use of sigprocmask. This was being discussed on the -hackers list, even with a patch provided, but the conversation seems to have stalled (
  • How to correctly interact with Postgres in an async context remains unexplored.
  • pgrx wraps a lot of unsafe code, some of which has poorly-defined safety conditions. It may be easy to induce illogical and undesirable behaviors even from safe code with pgrx, and some of these wrappers may be fundamentally unsound. Please report any issues that may arise.
  • Not all of Postgres' internals are included or even wrapped. This isn't due to it not being possible, it's simply due to it being an incredibly large task. If you identify internal Postgres APIs you need, open an issue and we'll get them exposed, at least through the pgrx::pg_sys module.
  • Windows is not supported. It could be, but will require a bit of work with cargo-pgrx and figuring out how to compile pgrx's "cshim" static library.
  • Sessions started before ALTER EXTENSION my_extension UPDATE; will continue to see the old version of my_extension. New sessions will see the updated version of the extension.
  • pgrx is used by many "in production", but it is not "1.0.0" or above, despite that being recommended by SemVer for production-quality software. This is because there are many unresolved soundness and ergonomics questions that will likely require breaking changes to resolve, in some cases requiring cutting-edge Rust features to be able to expose sound interfaces. While a 1.0.0 release is intended at some point, it seems prudent to wait until it seems like a 2.0.0 release would not be needed the next week and the remaining questions can be deferred.


There's a few things on our immediate TODO list

  • Automatic extension schema upgrade scripts
  • Improved unit testing framework
  • Better/Safer API for Datum management
  • Improved generated bindings organization
  • Safely wrap more Postgres internal APIs
  • More examples -- especially around memory management and the various derive macros #[derive(PostgresType/Enum)]

Feature Flags

PGRX has optional feature flags for Rust code that do not involve configuring the version of Postgres used, but rather extend additional support for other kinds of Rust code. These are not included by default.

"unsafe-postgres": Allow compilation for Postgres forks that have a different ABI

As of Postgres 15, forks are allowed to specify they use a different ABI than canonical Postgres. Since pgrx makes countless assumptions about Postgres' internal ABI it is not possible for it to guarantee that a compiled pgrx extension will probably execute within such a Postgres fork. You, dear compiler runner, can make this guarantee for yourself by specifying the unsafe-postgres feature flag. Otherwise, a pgrx extension will fail to compile with an error similar to:

error[E0080]: evaluation of constant value failed
   --> pgrx/src/
151 | /     assert!(
152 | |         same_slice(pg_sys::FMGR_ABI_EXTRA, b"xPostgreSQL\0"),
153 | |         "Unsupported Postgres ABI. Perhaps you need `--features unsafe-postgres`?",
154 | |     );
    | |_____^ the evaluated program panicked at 'Unsupported Postgres ABI. Perhaps you need `--features unsafe-postgres`?', pgrx/src/


We are most definitely open to contributions of any kind. Bug Reports, Feature Requests, Documentation, and even sponsorships.

If you'd like to contribute code via a Pull Request, please make it against our develop branch. The master branch is no longer used.

Providing wrappers for Postgres' internals is not a straightforward task, and completely wrapping it is going to take quite a bit of time. pgrx is generally ready for use now, and it will continue to be developed as time goes on. Your feedback about what you'd like to be able to do with pgrx is greatly appreciated.


If you're hacking on pgrx and want to ensure your test will run correctly, you need to have the current implementation of cargo-pgrx (from the revision you're working on) in your PATH.

An easy way would be to install cargo-local-install:

cargo install cargo-local-install

and then run cargo local-install to install cargo-pgrx as specified in top-level's Cargo.toml.

Don't forget to prepend /path/to/pgrx/bin to your PATH!

This approach can also be used in extensions to ensure a matching version of cargo-pgrx is used.


Portions Copyright 2019-2021 ZomboDB, LLC.  
Portions Copyright 2021-2023 Technology Concepts & Design, Inc.
Portions Copyright 2023 PgCentral Foundation, Inc.

All rights reserved.
Use of this source code is governed by the MIT license that can be found in the LICENSE file.