10 PostgreSQL Schema Best Practices

PostgreSQL schemas let you organize your database objects into logical groups. Here are 10 best practices for using schemas in PostgreSQL.

PostgreSQL is a powerful, open-source object-relational database system. It is used by many organizations to store and manage their data. To ensure that the data is stored and managed efficiently, it is important to follow best practices when designing the PostgreSQL schema.

In this article, we will discuss 10 best practices for designing PostgreSQL schemas. Following these best practices will help you create a well-structured and optimized database that can be easily maintained and queried.

1. Use schemas to group related objects together

When you use schemas, it makes it easier to find and manage related objects. For example, if you have a schema for customer data, then all of the tables, views, functions, and other objects related to customers will be in one place. This makes it much easier to keep track of what’s going on with your database.

It also helps with security. By using schemas, you can grant access to certain users or groups to only certain parts of the database. This way, you can ensure that sensitive information is kept secure from unauthorized users.

2. Use a naming convention for your schema names

When you have multiple schemas in your database, it can be difficult to keep track of which schema contains what data. By using a consistent naming convention for your schemas, you make it easier to identify and locate the data you need quickly. For example, if all of your customer-related data is stored in a schema called “customers”, then you know exactly where to look when you need to access that information. This also makes it easier for other developers to understand how your database is structured.

3. Don’t use the public schema as a dumping ground

The public schema is a special schema that’s available to all users in the database. This means that any objects created in this schema are accessible by everyone, which can lead to security issues and data integrity problems.

To avoid these issues, it’s best practice to create separate schemas for each user or application. This way, you can control who has access to what data and ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive information. Additionally, creating separate schemas makes it easier to manage your database since you don’t have to worry about conflicting object names between different users or applications.

4. Create separate schemas for different applications

When you have multiple applications running on the same database, it can be difficult to keep track of which tables belong to which application. By creating separate schemas for each application, you can easily identify which tables are associated with which application and make sure that changes made to one application don’t affect another.

Additionally, having separate schemas makes it easier to manage permissions since you can grant access to a specific schema instead of granting access to all of the tables in the database. This helps ensure that users only have access to the data they need and nothing more.

5. Create a schema for each user or role

When you create a schema for each user or role, it allows you to easily control access to the data. You can grant and revoke privileges on individual schemas, which makes it easier to manage permissions than if all of your users had access to the same database. It also helps keep your data organized by allowing you to group related objects together in one place. Finally, it’s more secure since it reduces the risk of accidental data leakage between different users.

6. Keep track of which users own which schemas

When a user creates a schema, they become the owner of that schema. This means that only the owner can make changes to it or delete it. If you don’t keep track of which users own which schemas, then you may find yourself in a situation where you need to make changes to a schema but don’t have access because you don’t know who owns it.

To avoid this problem, create a system for tracking which users own which schemas. You could use a spreadsheet, database table, or even just a text file. Make sure to update it whenever someone creates a new schema or transfers ownership of an existing one.

7. Grant privileges on schemas, not tables

When you grant privileges on a table, the user will have access to all of the data in that table. This can be dangerous if the user has malicious intent or is careless with their actions. By granting privileges on schemas instead, you limit the user’s access to only the tables within that schema. This way, they won’t be able to accidentally modify or delete data from other tables.

It’s also important to note that when you grant privileges on a schema, it applies to any new tables created within that schema as well. So, once you’ve granted privileges on a schema, you don’t need to worry about updating permissions for each individual table.

8. Avoid using search_path in application code

The search_path is a PostgreSQL setting that determines which schemas are searched when an object name is not qualified with a schema. This means that if you use the search_path in your application code, it can lead to unpredictable results because different users may have different settings for their search_path.

Instead of using the search_path in your application code, always qualify objects with the appropriate schema. This will ensure that your queries always return the expected results regardless of the user’s search_path setting.

9. Use views to simplify access control

Views are virtual tables that contain the results of a query. They can be used to restrict access to certain columns or rows in a table, and they also make it easier to grant permissions on specific data sets without having to manage individual column-level permissions.

For example, if you have an employee table with sensitive information like salary and performance reviews, you could create a view that only shows name and department for all users. This way, you can easily grant read-only access to this view while still protecting the underlying data. Views also help simplify complex queries by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable pieces.

10. Consider using temporary tables

Temporary tables are a great way to store data temporarily, and they can be used for many different purposes. For example, you can use them to store intermediate results of complex queries or to store the result of an expensive query that needs to be reused multiple times.

Temporary tables also help improve performance by reducing disk I/O operations since the data is stored in memory instead of on disk. Additionally, temporary tables can be used to isolate changes made during transactions so that if something goes wrong, it won’t affect other parts of the system. Finally, using temporary tables can make your code more readable and maintainable since you don’t have to repeat the same query over and over again.


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