HTTP client for PostgreSQL, retrieve a web page from inside the database.
C PLpgSQL Makefile
Latest commit 70fbafa Oct 11, 2016 @pramsey committed on GitHub Update

PostgreSQL HTTP Client


Wouldn't it be nice to be able to write a trigger that called a web service? Either to get back a result, or to poke that service into refreshing itself against the new state of the database?

This extension is for that.


> SELECT urlencode('my special string''s & things?');

(1 row)

> SELECT content FROM http_get('http://localhost');

 <html><body><h1>It works!</h1></body></html>
(1 row)

> SELECT status, content_type, content FROM http_get('http://localhost');

 status | content_type |                   content                    
    200 | text/html    | <html><body><h1>It works!</h1></body></html>
(1 row)

> SELECT (unnest(headers)).* FROM http_get('http://localhost');

      field       |                                value                                 
 Date             | Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:47:27 GMT
 Server           | Apache/2.2.26 (Unix) DAV/2 PHP/5.4.30 mod_ssl/2.2.26 OpenSSL/0.9.8za
 Content-Location | index.html.en
 Vary             | negotiate
 TCN              | choice
 Last-Modified    | Sat, 30 Nov 2013 03:48:45 GMT
 ETag             | "a2961-2c-4ec5cd2d28140"
 Accept-Ranges    | bytes
 Content-Length   | 44
 Connection       | close
 Content-Type     | text/html
 Content-Language | en

> SELECT status,content FROM http_put('http://localhost/resource', 'some text', 'text/plain');

 status |                                content                                
    405 | <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN">                   +
        | <html><head>                                                         +
        | <title>405 Method Not Allowed</title>                                +
        | </head><body>                                                        +
        | <h1>Method Not Allowed</h1>                                          +
        | <p>The requested method PUT is not allowed for the URL /resource.</p>+
        | </body></html>                                                       +

> SELECT status, content FROM http_delete('http://localhost');

 status |                                    content                                    
    405 | <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN">                           +
        | <html><head>                                                                 +
        | <title>405 Method Not Allowed</title>                                        +
        | </head><body>                                                                +
        | <h1>Method Not Allowed</h1>                                                  +
        | <p>The requested method DELETE is not allowed for the URL /index.html.en.</p>+
        | </body></html>                                                               +

To POST to a URL using a data payload instead of parameters embedded in the URL, use the application/x-www-form-urlencoded content type.

SELECT status, content 
  FROM http_post('http://localhost/myform',

Remember to URL encode content that includes any "special" characters (really, anything other than a-z and 0-9).

SELECT status, content 
  FROM http_post('http://localhost/myform',
                 'myvar=' || urlencode('my special string & things?'),

To access binary content, you must coerce the content from the default varchar representation to a bytea representation using the textsend function. Using the default varchar::bytea cast will not work, as the cast will stop the first time it hits a zero-valued byte (common in binary data).

  http AS ( 
    SELECT * FROM http_get('http://localhost/PoweredByMacOSXLarge.gif') 
  headers AS (
    SELECT (unnest(headers)).* FROM http
  length(textsend(http.content)) AS length_binary, 
  headers.value AS length_headers 
FROM http, headers 
WHERE field = 'Content-Length';

 content_type | length_binary | length_headers 
 image/gif    |         31958 | 31958


Every HTTP call is a made up of an http_request and an http_response.

     Composite type "public.http_request"
    Column    |       Type        | Modifiers 
 method       | http_method       | 
 uri          | character varying | 
 headers      | http_header[]     | 
 content_type | character varying | 
 content      | character varying | 

    Composite type "public.http_response"
    Column    |       Type        | Modifiers 
 status       | integer           | 
 content_type | character varying | 
 headers      | http_header[]     | 
 content      | character varying | 

The utility functions, http_get(), http_post(), http_put(), and http_delete() are just wrappers around a master function, http(http_request) that returns http_response.

The headers field for requests and response is a PostgreSQL array of type http_header which is just a simple tuple.

  Composite type "public.http_header"
 Column |       Type        | Modifiers 
 field  | character varying | 
 value  | character varying | 

As seen in the examples, you can unspool the array of http_header tuples into a result set using the PostgreSQL unnest() function on the array. From there you select out the particular header you are interested in.


By default each request uses a fresh connection and assures that the connection is closed when the request is done. This behavior reduces the chance of consuming system resources (sockets) as the extension runs over extended periods of time.

High-performance applications may wish to enable keep-alive and connection persistence to reduce latency and enhance throughput. The following GUC variable changes the behavior of the http extension to maintain connections as long as possible:

http.keepalive = 'on'


By default a 5 second timeout is set for the completion of a request. If a different timeout is desired the following GUC variable can be used to set it in milliseconds:

http.timeout_msec = 200


  • http_header(field VARCHAR, value VARCHAR) returns http_header
  • http(request http_request) returns http_response
  • http_get(uri VARCHAR) returns http_response
  • http_post(uri VARCHAR, content VARCHAR, content_type VARCHAR) returns http_response
  • http_put(uri VARCHAR, content VARCHAR, content_type VARCHAR) returns http_response
  • http_delete(uri VARCHAR) returns http_resonse
  • urlencode(string VARCHAR) returns text



If you have PostgreSQL devel packages and CURL devel packages installed (>= 0.7.20), you should have pg_config and curl-config on your path, so you should be able to just run make, then make install, then in your database CREATE EXTENSION http.

If you already installed version 1.0 and you just want to upgrade, then ALTER EXTENSION http UPDATE TO '1.1'.


There is a build available at postgresonline, not maintained by me.

Why This is a Bad Idea

  • "What happens if the web page takes a long time to return?" Your SQL call will just wait there until it does. Make sure your web service fails fast.
  • "What if the web page returns junk?" Your SQL call will have to test for junk before doing anything with the payload.
  • "What if the web page never returns?" I've found this code can really hang a back-end hard. The curl timeout settings need more testing and tweaking for faster failure and timeout.

To Do

  • The new background worker support could be used to set up an HTTP request queue, so that pgsql-http can register a request and callback and then return immediately.
  • Inevitably some web server will return gzip content (Content-Encoding) without being asked for it. Handling that gracefully would be good.