Table of Contents

Version 1.33.12

Postmodern is a Common Lisp library for interacting with PostgreSQL databases. Features are:

The biggest differences between this library and clsql or cl-dbi are that Postmodern has no intention of being portable across different SQL implementations (it embraces non-standard PostgreSQL features), and approaches extensions like lispy SQL and database access objects in a quite different way. This library was written because the CLSQL approach did not really work for me. Your mileage may vary.


The reference manuals for the different components of Postmodern are kept in separate files. For using the library in the most straightforward way, you only really need to read the Postmodern reference and glance over the S-SQL reference. The simple-date reference explains the time-related data types included in Postmodern, and the CL-postgres reference might be useful if you just want a low-level library for talking to a PostgreSQL server.

Some specific topics in more detail


The library depends on usocket (except on SBCL and ACL, where the built-in socket library is used), md5, closer-mop, bordeaux-threads if you want thread-safe connection pools, and CL+SSL when SSL connections are needed.

As of version 1.3 it also depends on ironclad, base64 and uax-15 because of the need to support scram-sha-256 authentication.

Postmodern itself is split into four different packages, some of which can be used independently:

  • Simple-date is a very basic implementation of date and time objects, used to support storing and retrieving time-related

SQL types. It is not loaded by default and you can use local-time instead.

  • CL-postgres is the low-level library used for interfacing with a PostgreSQL server over a socket.
  • S-SQL is used to compile s-expressions to strings of SQL code, escaping any Lisp values inside, and doing as much as

possible of the work at compile time. Finally,

  • Postmodern itself is a wrapper around these packages and provides higher level functions, a very simple data access object that can be mapped directly to database tables and some convient utilities. It then tries to put all these things together into a convenient programming interface.itself is the library that tries to put all these things together into a convenient programming interface.


Postmodern is released under a zlib-style license. Which approximately means you can use the code in whatever way you like, except for passing it off as your own or releasing a modified version without indication that it is not the original.

The functions execute-file.lisp were ported from pgloader with grateful thanks to Dimitri Fontaine and are released under a BSD-3 license.

Download and installation

We suggest using for installation.

A git repository with the most recent changes can be viewed or checked out at:

> git clone


This quickstart is intended to give you a feel of the way coding with Postmodern works. Further details about the workings of the library can be found in the reference manuals linked below.

Assuming you have already installed quicklisp, load postmodern.

(ql:quickload :postmodern)
(use-package :postmodern)


Single Long Life Connections With No Multi-threading or Executable Creation

If you have a PostgreSQL server running on localhost, with a database called 'testdb' on it, which is accessible for user 'foucault' with password 'surveiller', there are two basic ways to connect to a database. If your role/application/database(s) looks like a 1:1 relationship and you are not using threads and you are not going to create an executable, you can connect like this:

(connect-toplevel "testdb" "foucault" "surveiller" "localhost")

This will establish a connection to be used by all code, except for that wrapped in a with-connection form, which takes the same arguments but only establishes the connection within that lexical scope. This method is often used in development or debugging.

Connect-toplevel will maintain a single connection for the life of your running lisp instance.

If the server is not on localhost, replace that string with a string containing the ip address of the server:

(connect-toplevel "testdb" "foucault" "surveiller" "")

If the Postgresql server is running on a port other than 5432, you would also pass the appropriate keyword port parameter. E.g.:

(connect-toplevel "testdb" "foucault" "surveiller" "localhost" :port 5434)

Ssl connections would similarly use the keyword parameter :use-ssl and pass :no, :try, :require, :yes, or :full

  • :try means if the server supports it
  • :require means use provided ssl certificate with no verification
  • :yes means verify that the server cert is issued by a trusted CA, but does not verify the server hostname
  • :full means expect a CA-signed cert for the supplied hostname and verify the server hostname

When using ssl, you can set the cl-postgres exported variables *ssl-certificate-file*, *ssl-key-file* and *ssl-root-ca-file* to provide client key, certificate files and root ca files. They can be either NIL, for no file, or a pathname.

Multiple Connections, Multi-threading or Executable Creation

If you have multiple roles connecting to one or more databases, i.e. 1:many or many:1, (in other words, changing connections) or you are using threads (each thread must have its own connection) or you are going to create an executable, then you can use the with-connection form which establishes a connection with a lexical scope is more appropriate.

(with-connection '("testdb" "foucault" "surveiller" "localhost")

The same additional parameters apply to specifying ports or establishing an ssl connection

For other connection options, please see

If you are creating a database, you need to have established a connection to a currently existing database (typically "postgres"). Assuming the foucault role is a superuser and you want to stay in a development connection with your new database afterwards, you would first use with-connection to connect to postgres, create the database and then switch to connect-toplevel for development ease.

(with-connection '("postgres" "foucault" "surveiller" "localhost")
  (create-database 'testdb :limit-public-access t
                     :comment "This database is for testing silly theories"))

(connect-toplevel "testdb" "foucault" "surveiller" "localhost")

Note: (create-database) functionality is new to postmodern v. 1.32. Setting the :limit-public-access parameter to t will block connections to that database from anyone who you have not explicitly given permission (except other superusers).

Pooling Connections

A word about Postgresql connections. Postgresql connections are not lightweight threads. They actually consume about 10 MB of memory per connection. In addition, any connections which require security (ssl or scram authentication) will take additiona time and create more overhead.

Postgresql can be tuned to limit the number of connections allowed at any one time. It defaults to 100. The parameter is set in the postgresql.conf file. Depending on the size of your server and what you are doing, the sweet spot generally seems to be between 200-400 connections before you need to bring in connection pooling.

If your application is threaded, each thread should use its own connection. Connections are stateful and attempts to use the same connection for multiple threads will likely have problems.

If you have an application like a web app which will make many connections, you also generally do not want to create and drop connections for every query. The usual solution is to use connection pools so that the application is grabbing an already existing connection and returning it to the pool when finished, saving connection time and memory.

To use postmodern's simple connection pooler, the with-connection call would look like:

(with-connection '("testdb" "foucault" "surveiller" "localhost" :pooled-p t)

The maximum number of connections in the pool is set in the special variable *max-pool-size*, which defaults to nil (no maximum).

Basic Queries

Now for a basic sanity test which does not need a database connection at all:

(with-connection '("testdb" "foucault" "surveiller" "localhost")
    (query "select 22, 'Folie et déraison', 4.5"))
;; => ((22 "Folie et déraison" 9/2))

Query is the basic way to send queries to the database. Please see the documentation for query for details on return types, parameterized queries, etc.

The same query can be expressed in s-sql like this:

(query (:select 22 "Folie et déraison" 4.5))
;; => ((22 "Folie et déraison" 9/2))

In many contexts, query strings and lists starting with keywords can be used interchangeably. The lists will be compiled to SQL. The S-SQL manual describes the syntax used by these expressions and provides many examples. Lisp values occurring in them are automatically escaped. In the above query, only constant values are used, but it is possible to transparently use run-time values as well:

(defun database-powered-addition (a b)
  (query (:select (:+ a b)) :single))

(database-powered-addition 1030 204)
;; => 1234

That last argument, :single, indicates that we want the result not as a list of lists (for the result rows), but as a single value, since we know that we are only selecting one value. Some other options are :rows, :row, :column, :alists, :plists, :array-hash, :json-strs, :json-str, :json-array-str, :dao, :vectors and :none. These, and others, and their precise effect is documented in the Postmodern reference manual under Queries

You do not have to pull in the whole result of a query at once, you can also iterate over it with the doquery macro:

(doquery (:select 'x 'y :from 'some-imaginary-table) (x y)
  (format t "On this row, x = ~A and y = ~A.~%" x y))

DAO Classes

You can work directly with the database or you can use a simple database-access-class (aka dao) which would cover all the fields in a row. This is what a database-access class looks like:

(defclass country ()
  ((name :col-type string :initarg :name
         :reader country-name)
   (inhabitants :col-type integer :initarg :inhabitants
                :accessor country-inhabitants)
   (sovereign :col-type (or db-null string) :initarg :sovereign
              :accessor country-sovereign))
  (:metaclass dao-class)
  (:keys name))

The above defines a class that can be used to handle records in a table named 'country' with three columns: name, inhabitants, and sovereign. The :keys parameter specifies which column(s) are used for the primary key. Once you have created the class, you can return an instance of the country class by calling

(get-dao 'country "Croatia")

You can also define classes that use multiple columns in the primary key:

(defclass points ()
  ((x :col-type integer :initarg :x
      :reader point-x)
   (y :col-type integer :initarg :y
      :reader point-y)
   (value :col-type integer :initarg :value
          :accessor value))
  (:metaclass dao-class)
  (:keys x y))

In this case, retrieving a points record would look like the following where 12 and 34 would be the values you are looking to find in the x column and y column respectively.:

(get-dao 'points 12 34)

Consider a slightly more complicated version of country:

(defclass country-c ()
  ((id :col-type integer :col-identity t :accessor id)
   (name :col-type string :col-unique t :check (:<> 'name "")
         :initarg :name :reader country-name)
   (inhabitants :col-type integer :initarg :inhabitants
                :accessor country-inhabitants)
   (sovereign :col-type (or db-null string) :initarg :sovereign
              :accessor country-sovereign)
   (region-id :col-type integer :col-references ((regions id))
              :initarg :region-id :accessor region-id))
  (:metaclass dao-class)
  (:table-name countries))

In this example we have an id column which is specified to be an identity column. Postgresql will automatically generate a sequence of of integers and this will be the primary key.

We have a name column which is specified as unique and is not null and the check will ensure that the database refuses to accept an empty string as the name.

We have a region-id column which references the id column in the regions table. This is a foreign key constraint and Postgresql will not accept inserting a country into the database unless there is an existing region with an id that matches this number. Postgresql will also not allow deleting a region if there are countries that reference that region's id. If we wanted Postgresql to delete countries when regions are deleted, that column would be specified as:

(region-id :col-type integer :col-references ((regions id) :cascade)
  :initarg :region-id :accessor region-id)

Now you can see why the double parens.

We also specify that the table name is not "country" but "countries". (Some style guides recommend that table names be plural and references to rows be singular.)

More detailed information on DAO classes is found here: Database Access Object (Dao) Classes

Define-Dao-Class Macro (New to version 1.33.12)

New to Postmodern version 1.33.12 (thank you Killianmh) is a macro that makes defining a dao class slightly easier. It is like defclass except two postmodern specific changes:

  1. The dao-class metaclass options is automatically added.
  2. If second value in a slot is not a keyword, it is assumed to be col-type.


(define-dao-class id-class ()
((id integer :initarg :id :accessor test-id)
 (email :col-type text :initarg :email :accessor email))
(:keys id))

Table Creation

With SQL or S-SQL

You can create tables directly without the need to define a class, and in more complicated cases, you may need to use the s-sql :create-table operator or plain vanilla sql. Staying with examples that will match our slightly more complicated dao-class above (but ignoring the fact that the references parameter would actually require us to create the regions table first) and using s-sql rather than plain vanilla sql would be the following:

(query (:create-table 'countries
      ((id :type integer  :primary-key t :identity-always t)
       (name :type string :unique t :check (:<> 'name ""))
       (inhabitants :type integer)
       (sovereign :type (or db-null string))
       (region-id :type integer :references ((regions id))))))

Restated using vanilla sql:

(query "CREATE TABLE countries (
           name TEXT NOT NULL UNIQUE CHECK (NAME <> E''),
           inhabitants INTEGER NOT NULL,
           sovereign TEXT,
           region_id INTEGER NOT NULL REFERENCES regions(id)

Let's look at a slightly different example:

(query (:create-table so-items
         ((item-id :type integer)
          (so-id :type (or integer db-null) :references ((so-headers id)))
          (product-id :type (or integer db-null))
          (qty :type (or integer db-null))
          (net-price :type (or numeric db-null)))
         (:primary-key item-id so-id)))

Restated using plain sql:

(query "CREATE TABLE so_items (
           item_id INTEGER NOT NULL,
           so_id INTEGER REFERENCES so_headers(id)
           product_id INTEGER,
           qty INTEGER,
           net_price NUMERIC,
           PRIMARY KEY (item_id, so_id)

In the above case, the new table's name will be so_items because sql does not allow hyphens and plain vanilla sql will require that. Postmodern will generally allow you to use the quoted symbol 'so-items. This is also true for all the column names. The column item-id is an integer and cannot be null. The column so-id is also an integer, but is allowed to be null and is a foreign key to the id field in the so-headers table so-headers. The primary key is actually a composite of item-id and so-id. (If we wanted the primary key to be just item-id, we could have specified that in the form defining item-id.)

For more detail and examples on building tables using the s-sql approach, see create-tables.html

With a Previously Created DAO

You can also use a previously defined dao to create a table as well. The dao-table-definition function examines a dao class and generates the plain vanilla sql for creating a table. That can be passed on to the execute function to create a table. For example the simple country dao would generate:

(dao-table-definition 'country)

  (name TEXT NOT NULL,
   inhabitants INTEGER NOT NULL,
   sovereign TEXT DEFAULT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (name))"

(execute (dao-table-definition 'country))

(Execute works like query, but does not expect any results back.)

The slightly more complicated country-c version would generate:

(dao-table-definition 'country-c)

;; => "CREATE TABLE countries (
;;       id INTEGER NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY generated always as identity,
;;       name TEXT NOT NULL UNIQUE,
;;       inhabitants INTEGER NOT NULL,
;;       sovereign TEXT DEFAULT NULL,
;;       region_id INTEGER NOT NULL REFERENCES regions(id)

(execute (dao-table-definition 'country-c))

For the rest of the discussion on this page, we will use the simpler version and save the more complicated version for the postmodern manuals.

Inserting Data

Similarly to table creation, you can insert data using the s-sql wrapper, plain vanilla sql or daos.

The s-sql approach would be:

(query (:insert-into 'country :set 'name "The Netherlands"
                                   'inhabitants 16800000
                                   'sovereign "Willem-Alexander"))

(query (:insert-into 'country :set 'name "Croatia"
                                   'inhabitants 4400000))

You could also insert multiple rows at a time but that requires the same columns for each row:

(query (:insert-rows-into 'country :columns 'name 'inhabitants 'sovereign
                                   :values '(("The Netherlands" 16800000 "Willem-Alexander")
                                             ("Croatia" 4400000 :null))))

The sql approach would be:

(query "insert into country (name, inhabitants, sovereign)
                            values ('The Netherlands', 16800000, 'Willem-Alexander')")

(query "insert into country (name, inhabitants)
                            values ('Croatia', 4400000)")

The multiple row sql approach would be:

(query "insert into country (name, inhabitants, sovereign)
                              ('The Netherlands', 16800000, 'Willem-Alexander'),
                              ('Croatia', 4400000, NULL)")

Using dao classes would look like: Let us go back to our approach using a dao class and add a few countries:

(insert-dao (make-instance 'country :name "The Netherlands"
                                    :inhabitants 16800000
                                    :sovereign "Willem-Alexander"))
(insert-dao (make-instance 'country :name "Croatia"
                                    :inhabitants 4400000))

Postmodern does not yet have an insert-daos (plural) function.

Staying with the dao class approach, to update Croatia's population, we could do this:

(let ((croatia (get-dao 'country "Croatia")))
  (setf (country-inhabitants croatia) 4500000)
  (update-dao croatia))
(query (:select '* :from 'country))

;; => (("The Netherlands" 16800000 "Willem-Alexander")
;;     ("Croatia" 4500000 :NULL))

Please see the documentation for s-sql for more examples of using s-sql rather than daos.

Next, to demonstrate a bit more of the S-SQL syntax, here is the query the utility function list-tables uses to get a list of the tables in a database:

(sql (:select 'relname :from '
      :inner-join ' :on (:= 'relnamespace
      :where (:and (:= 'relkind "r")
                   (:not-in 'nspname (:set "pg_catalog" "pg_toast"))
                   ( 'pg-class.oid))))

;; => "(SELECT relname FROM pg_catalog.pg_class
;;      INNER JOIN pg_catalog.pg_namespace ON (relnamespace = pg_namespace.oid)
;;      WHERE ((relkind = 'r') and (nspname NOT IN ('pg_catalog', 'pg_toast'))
;;             and pg_catalog.pg_table_is_visible(pg_class.oid)))"

sql is a macro that will simply compile a query, it can be useful for seeing how your queries are expanded or if you want to do something unexpected with them.

As you can see, lists starting with keywords are used to express SQL commands and operators (lists starting with something else will be evaluated and then inserted into the query). Quoted symbols name columns or tables (keywords can also be used but might introduce ambiguities). The syntax supports subqueries, multiple joins, stored procedures, etc. See the S-SQL reference manual for a complete treatment.

Finally, here is an example of the use of prepared statements:

(defprepared sovereign-of
  (:select 'sovereign :from 'country :where (:= 'name '$1))
(sovereign-of "The Netherlands")
;; => "Willem-Alexander"

The defprepared macro creates a function that takes the same amount of arguments as there are $X placeholders in the given query. The query will only be parsed and planned once (per database connection), which can be faster, especially for complex queries.



Postmodern can use either md5 or scram-sha-256 authentication. Scram-sha-256 authentication is obviously more secure, but slower than md5, so take that into account if you are planning on opening and closing many connections without using a connection pooling setup..

Other authentication methods have not been tested. Please let us know if there is a authentication method that you believe should be considered.

Data Types

Data Types

For a short comparison of lisp and Postgresql data types (date and time datatypes are described in the next section)

SQL type Description
smallint -32,768 to +32,768 2-byte storage
integer -2147483648 to +2147483647 integer, 4-byte storage
bigint -9223372036854775808 to 9223372036854775807 8-byte storage
numeric(X, Y) User specified, see notes below
real float, 6 decimal digit precision 4-byte storage
double-precision floating, 15 decimal digit precision 8-byte storage
text variable length string, no limit specified
char(X) char(length), blank-padded string, fixed storage length
varchar(X) varchar(length), non-blank-padded string, variable storage length
boolean boolean, 'true'/'false', 1 byte
bytea binary string allowing non-printable octets
date date range: 4713 BC to 5874897 AD
interval See interval
array See discussion at array-notes.html

Numeric and decimal are variable storage size numbers with user specified precision. Up to 131072 digits before the decimal point; up to 16383 digits after the decimal point. The syntax is numeric(precision, scale). Numeric columns with a specified scale will coerce input values to that scale. For more detail, see

PG Type Sample Postmodern Return Value Lisp Type (per sbcl)
boolean T BOOLEAN
boolean NIL (Note: within Postgresql this will show 'f') BOOLEAN
int2 273 (INTEGER 0 4611686018427387903)
int4 2 (INTEGER 0 4611686018427387903)
varchar id&wl;19 (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
numeric 78239/100 RATIO
json { "customer": "John Doe", "items": {"product": "Beer","qty": 6}} (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
jsonb {"title": "Sleeping Beauties", "genres": ["Fiction", "Thriller", "Horror"]} (VECTOR CHARACTER 128)
float 782.31 SINGLE-FLOAT
point (0.0d0 0.0d0) CONS
lseg ((-1.0d0 0.0d0) (2.0d0 4.0d0)) CONS
path ((1,0),(2,4)) (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
box ((1.0d0 1.0d0) (0.0d0 0.0d0)) CONS
polygon ((21,0),(2,4)) (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
line {2,-1,0} (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
double_precision 2.38921379231d8 DOUBLE-FLOAT
double_float 2.3892137923231d8 DOUBLE-FLOAT
circle <(0,0),2> (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
interval #<INTERVAL P1Y3H20m> INTERVAL
int4range [11,24) (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
uuid 40e6215d-b5c6-4896-987c-f30f3678f608 (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
text_array #(text one text two text three) (SIMPLE-VECTOR 3)
integer_array #(3 5 7 8) (SIMPLE-VECTOR 4)
bytea #(222 173 190 239) (SIMPLE-ARRAY (UNSIGNED-BYTE 8) (4))
text Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
enum_mood happy *Note: enum_mood was defined as 'sad','ok' or 'happy' (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)

Passing Parameters as Text or Binary

To avoid sql injection attacks you should be using parameterized queries. They also help avoid the hassle of worrying about double quotes and single quotes. They are also a required part of prepared queries. The following shows an example of parameterized query in regular sql and s-sql.

(query "select name, address from customers where id = $1" 237)

(query (:select 'name 'address :from 'customers :where (:= 'id '$1)) 237)

Postmodern defaults to passing query parameters as text. In an example like the above, Postgresql would look at the customer table, see that "id" must be an integer or big integer and proceed accordingly. If Postgresql does not have a table column which would allow it to determine the appropriate data type and you do not specify the date type in the query, Postgresql treats the parameter as text. The following example in plain sql demonstrates:

(query "select $1" 1 :single)
(query "select $1" 1.5 :single)
(query "select $1" T :single)
(query "select $1" nil :single)
(query "select $1" :NULL :single)

You can specify the type and Postgresql will attempt to follow that:

(query "select $1::integer" 1 :single)

As of version 1.33, Postmodern provides an optional setting in the database connection object which will cause Postmodern to pass parameters to Postgresql in binary format if that format is available for that datatype. Currently this means int2, int4, int8, float, double-float (except clisp) and boolean. Rational numbers continue to be passed as text.

The default for cl-postgres/Postmodern is to continue to pass parameters to Postgresql as text (not in binary format) in order to avoid breaking existing user code. If you want to pass parameters to Postgresql in binary format, you can either provide the keyword parameter :use-binary in creating a connection like so:

(connect "test-db" "test-user" "test-password" ""
         :port 5434 :pooled-p t :use-ssl try :application-name "test-app" :use-binary t)

or use the postmodern with-connection macro:

(with-connection '("database-name" "user-name" "user-password" "localhost or IP address"
                   :use-binary t [any other keyword parameters you want to apply])

You can also change the flag after the connection is established with the use-binary-parameters function, passing T to use binary parameters or nil to use text parameters:

(use-binary-parameters *database* t)

(use-binary-parameters some-database-connection t)

Using binary parameters the results has the following results:

(query "select $1" 1 :single)
(query "select $1" 1.5 :single)
(query "select $1" T :single)
(query "select $1" nil :single)
(query "select $1" :NULL :single)

Using binary parameters does tighten type checking when using prepared queries. You will not be able to use prepared queries with varying formats. In other words, if you have a prepared query that you pass an integer as the first parameter and a string as the second parameter the first time it is used, any subsequent uses of that prepared query during that session will also have to pass an integer as the first parameter and a string as the second parameter.

Benchmarking does indicate a slight speed and consing benefit to passing parameters as binary, but your mileage will vary depending on your use case.

Caveats and to-dos

Timezones and Simple-Date and Local-Time

It is important to understand how postgresql (not postmodern) handles timestamps and timestamps with time zones. Postgresql keeps everything in UTC, it does not store a timezone even in a timezone aware column. If you use a timestamp with timezone column, postgresql will calculate the UTC time and will normalize the timestamp data to UTC. When you later select the record, postgresql will look at the timezone for the postgresql session, retrieve the data and then provide the data recalculated from UTC to the timezone for that postgresql session. There is a good writeup of timezones at and

Without simple-date or local-time properly loaded and without use of the Postgresql to_char function, sample date and time data from postgresql will look like:

PG Type Sample Return Value Lisp Type
date 3798576000 (INTEGER 0 4611686018427387903)
time_wo_tz ((HOURS 9) (MINUTES 47) (SECONDS 9) (MICROSECONDS 926531)) CONS
time_w_tz 09:47:16.510459-04 (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
timestamp_wo_tz 3798611253 (INTEGER 0 4611686018427387903)
timestamp_w_tz 3798625647 (INTEGER 0 4611686018427387903)


Assume a data table with columns "col_timestamp_without_time_zone", "col_timestamp_with_time_zone", "col_timestamptz", "col_timestamp", "col_time" and "col_date".

First, just basic sql. In this example we ask for the timestamp_with_time_zone field three times to show differences in the result dealing with time zones. First we do not add a timezone parameter to the pattern, the second time we ask for the time zone using TZ, the third time we ask for the offset from UTC and get back -04. We would get the same result using those additional parameters with the col_timestamptz field.

(query "(SELECT to_char(col_timestamp_with_time_zone, E'YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS'),
                to_char(col_timestamp_with_time_zone, E'YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS TZ'),
                to_char(col_timestamp_with_time_zone, E'YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS OF'),
                to_char(col_timestamptz, E'YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS'),
                to_char(col_timestamp, E'YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS'),
                to_char(col_time, E'HH24:MI:SS'),
                to_char(col_date, E'YYYY-MM-DD')
         FROM short_data_type_tests
         WHERE (id = 1))")
(("2020-10-30 19:30:54" "2020-10-30 19:30:54 EDT" "2020-10-30 19:30:54 -04"
"2020-10-30 19:30:54" "2020-10-30 19:30:54" "19:30:54" "2020-10-30"))

Now the s-sql version:

(query (:select  (:to-char 'col_timestamp_with_time_zone "YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS TZ")
                 (:to-char 'col_timestamp_with_time_zone "YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS OF")
                 (:to-char 'col_timestamptz "YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS")
                 (:to-char 'col_timestamp "YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS")
                 (:to-char 'col_time "HH24:MI:SS")
                 (:to-char 'col_date "YYYY-MM-DD")
        :from 'short-data-type-tests
        :where (:= 'id 1)))

(("2020-10-30 19:30:54 EDT" "2020-10-30 19:30:54 -04" "2020-10-30 19:30:54"
  "2020-10-30 19:30:54" "19:30:54" "2020-10-30"))

Simple-Date Library Use

The Simple-date add-on library (not enabled by default) provides types (CLOS classes) for dates, timestamps, and intervals similar to the ones SQL databases use, in order to be able to store and read these to and from a database in a straighforward way. A few obvious operations are defined on these types.

To use simple-date with cl-postgres or postmodern, load simple-date-cl-postgres-glue and register suitable SQL readers and writers for the associated database types.

(ql:quickload :simple-date/postgres-glue)

(setf cl-postgres:*sql-readtable*

With simple date loaded, the same data will look like this:

PG Type Sample Return Value Lisp Type
date #<DATE 16-05-2020> DATE
time_without_timezone #<TIME-OF-DAY 09:47:09.926531> TIME-OF-DAY
time_with_timezone 09:47:16.510459-04 (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
timestamp_without_timezone #<TIMESTAMP 16-05-2020T09:47:33,315> TIMESTAMP
timestamp_with_timezone #<TIMESTAMP 16-05-2020T13:47:27,855> TIMESTAMP

You can export these as json-strings with the encode-json-to-string function. E.g.

(encode-json-to-string (query (:select 'timestamp-without-time-zone
                               :from 'test-data
                               :where (:= 'id 1))
"\"2020-12-30 13:30:54:0\""

Or more simply with passing one of the json result type parameters to the query function. E.g.

(query (:select 'timestamp-with-time-zone
        :from 'test-data
        :where (:< 'id 3))

'("{\"timestampWithTimeZone\":\"2019-12-30 18:30:54:0\"}"
  "{\"timestampWithTimeZone\":\"1919-12-30 18:30:54:0\"}")

To get back to the default cl-postgres reader:

(setf cl-postgres:*sql-readtable*

However Simple-date has no concept of time zones. Many users use another library, local-time, which solves the same problem as simple-date, but does understand time zones. One thing to remember is that PostgreSQL doesn't store timezone information when using `timestamp with time zone`. Time zone information only used to convert it to proper UTC timestamp.

Local-Time Library Use

For those who want to use local-time, to enable the local-time reader:

(ql:quickload :cl-postgres+local-time)

With that set postgresql time datatype returns look like: With local-time loaded and local-time:set-local-time-cl-postgres-readers run, the same sample data looks like:

PG Type Sample Return Value Lisp Type
date 2020-05-15T20:00:00.000000-04:00 TIMESTAMP
time_without_timezone 2000-03-01T04:47:09.926531-05:00 TIMESTAMP
time_with_timezone 09:47:16.510459-04 (VECTOR CHARACTER 64)
timestamp_without_timezone 2020-05-16T05:47:33.315622-04:00 TIMESTAMP
timestamp_with_timezone 2020-05-16T09:47:27.855146-04:00 TIMESTAMP

Similarly to simple-date timestamps, these can be exported as json-strings with the encode-json-to-string function. E.g.

(encode-json-to-string (query (:select 'timestamp-with-time-zone
                               :from 'test-data
                               :where (:= 'id 1))

Or more simply with passing one of the json result type parameters to the query function. E.g.

(query (:select 'timestamp-with-time-zone
        :from 'test-data
        :where (:< 'id 3))



The Lisp code in Postmodern is theoretically portable across implementations, and seems to work on all major ones as well as some minor ones such as Genera. It is regularly tested on ccl, sbcl, ecl, abcl and cmucl.

ABCL version 1.8.0 broke the dao class inheritance. See Everything other than dao-classes works.

Clisp currently has issues with executing a file of sql statements (Postmodern's execute-file function).

Implementations that do not have meta-object protocol support will not have DAOs, but all other parts of the library should work (all widely used implementations do support this).

The library is not likely to work for PostgreSQL versions older than 8.4. Other features only work in newer Postgresql versions as the features were only introduced in those newer versions.

Reserved Words

It is highly suggested that you do not use words that are reserved by Postgresql and the sql standard as identifiers (e.g. table names, columns). The reserved words are:

"all" "analyse" "analyze" "and" "any" "array" "as" "asc" "asymmetric" "authorization" "between" "binary" "both" "case" "cast" "check" "collate" "column" "concurrently" "constraint" "create" "cross" "current-catalog" "current-date" "current-role" "current-schema" "current-time" "current-timestamp" "current-user" "default" "deferrable" "desc" "distinct" "do" "else" "end" "except" "false" "fetch" "filter" "for" "foreign" "freeze" "from" "full" "grant" "group" "having" "ilike" "in" "initially" "inner" "intersect" "into" "is" "isnull" "join" "lateral" "leading" "left" "like" "limit" "localtime" "localtimestamp" "natural" "new" "not" "notnull" "nowait" "null" "off" "offset" "old" "on" "only" "or" "order" "outer" "overlaps" "placing" "primary" "references" "returning" "right" "select" "session-user" "share" "similar" "some" "symmetric" "table" "then" "to" "trailing" "true" "union" "unique" "user" "using" "variadic" "verbose" "when" "where" "window" "with"

Things that should be implemented

Postmodern is under active maintenance so issues and feature requests should be flagged on Postmodern's site on github.


Running tests

Postmodern uses FiveAM for testing. The different component systems of Postmodern have tests defined in corresponding test systems, each defining a test suite. The test systems and corresponding top-level test suites are:

  • `:postmodern` in `postmodern/tests`,
  • `:cl-postgres` in `cl-postgres/tests`,
  • `:s-sql` in `s-sql/tests`, and
  • `:simple-date` in `simple-date/tests`.

Before running the tests make sure PostgreSQL is running and a test database is created. By default tests use the following connection parameters to run the tests:

  • Database name: test
  • User: test
  • Password: <empty>
  • Hostname: localhost
  • Port: 5432
  • Use-SSL :NO

If connection with these parameters fails then you will be asked to provide the connection parameters interactively. The parameters will be stored in `cl-postgres-tests:*test-connection*` variable and automatically used on successive test runs. This variable can also be set manually before running the tests.

To test a particular component one would first load the corresponding test system, and then run the test suite. For example, to test the `postmodern` system in the REPL one would do the following:

(ql:quickload "postmodern/tests")
(5am:run! :postmodern)

    ;; ... test output ...

It is also possible to test multiple components at once by first loading test systems and then running all tests:

(ql:quickload '("cl-postgres/tests" "s-sql/tests"))

    ;; ... test output ...

To run the tests from command-line specify the same forms using your implementation's command-line syntax. For instance, to test all Postmodern components on SBCL, use the following command:

env DB_USER=$USER sbcl –noinform \ –eval '(ql:quickload "postmodern/tests")' \ –eval '(ql:quickload "cl-postgres/tests")' \ –eval '(ql:quickload "s-sql/tests")' \ –eval '(ql:quickload "simple-date/tests")' \ –eval '(progn (setq 5am:*print-names* nil) (5am:run-all-tests))' \ –eval '(sb-ext:exit)'

As you can see from above, database connection parameters can be provided using environment variables:

  • `DB_NAME`: database name,
  • `DB_USER`: user,
  • `DB_PASS`: password,
  • `DB_HOST`: hostname.