YSQL - Yugabyte SQL for distributed databases

Yugabyte Structured Query Language (YSQL)


Yugabyte Structured Query Language (YSQL) is an ANSI SQL, fully-relational API that is best fit for scale-out RDBMS applications that need ultra resilience, massive write scalability, and geographic data distribution. The YugabyteDB SQL processing layer is built by using the PostgreSQL code (starting with version 11.2) directly. The result of this approach is that YSQL is fully compatible with PostgreSQL by construction.

YSQL therefore supports all of the traditional relational modeling features, such as referential integrity (implemented using a foreign key constraint from a child table to a primary key to its parent table), joins, partial indexes, triggers, and stored procedures. It extends the familiar transactional notions into the YugabyteDB Distributed SQL Database architecture.

The main components of YSQL include the data definition language (DDL), the data manipulation language (DML), the data control language (DCL), built-in SQL functions, and the PL/pgSQL procedural language for stored procedures. These components depend on underlying features like the data type system (common for both SQL and PL/pgSQL), expressions, database objects with qualified names, and comments. Other components support purposes such as system control, transaction control and performance tuning.


If you don't find what you're looking for in the YSQL documentation, you might find answers in the relevant PostgreSQL documentation. Successive YugabyteDB releases honor PostgreSQL syntax and semantics, although some features (for example those that are specific to the PostgreSQL monolithic SQL database architecture) might not be supported for distributed SQL. The YSQL documentation specifies the supported syntax and extensions.

To find the version of the PostgreSQL processing layer used in YugabyteDB, you can use the version() function. The following YSQL query displays only the first part of the returned value:

select rpad(version(), 18)||'...' as v;

For the "preview" release series of YugabyteDB, as reflected in this main documentation URL, the query result shows that the PostgreSQL version is 11.2:

 PostgreSQL 11.2-YB...

Quick Start

You can explore the basics of the YSQL API using the Quick Start steps.

The SQL language

The section The SQL language describes of all of the YugabyteDB SQL statements. Each statement has its own dedicated page. Each page starts with a formal specification of the syntax: both as a railroad diagram; and as a grammar using the PostgreSQL convention. Then it explains the semantics and illustrates the explanation with code examples.

Supporting language elements

This section lists the main elements that support the YugabyteDB SQL language subsystem.

Make sure that you have your own sandbox YugabyteDB cluster

It always helps to have access to a sandbox YugabyteDB cluster where you can, when you need to, do whatever you want without considering any risk of doing harm. Here are the kinds of things you'll want to do:

  • Connect as the postgres role and create and drop other superusers, and regular roles.
  • Create and drop databases
  • Create and drop extensions
  • Create and drop objects of all other kinds

With these freedoms, you'll be able to set up any regime that you need to help you illustrate, or test, a hypothesis about how things work.

Moreover, for some experiments, you'll need operating system access so that you can make changes to various configuration files (like the one that determines the default values for session parameters).

It also helps to have a vanilla PostgreSQL installation on the same server so that you can confirm for yourself that the SQL systems of each (at least for the functionality that application developers use, and in the overwhelming majority of cases) are syntactically and semantically identical.

To do all this confidently, you need to be sure that nobody else can use your sandbox so that you know that everything that you observe will be explained by what you deliberately did. Occasionally, you'll even want to destroy a cluster at one version and replace it with a cluster at a different version

The simplest way to achieve this ideal sandbox regime is to use your own laptop. The Quick Start section shows you how to do this.