Alterable subprogram attributes

Configuration parameter

This term denotes parameters like timezone that you can set, within the scope of a single session, and for no longer than the session's duration, with the set statement. You observe the current value with the show statement or the current_setting() built-in function.

You can execute a set statement in the source text of a subprogram's subprogram_implementation. But you might prefer to make such a setting a property of the subprogram like this:

drop function if exists f() cascade;
create function f()
  returns text
  set timezone = 'America/New_York'
  language sql
as $body$
  select current_setting('timezone');

select f();

This is the result:


It's useful to define a setting using a subprogram's configuration parameter when you want the value to remain in force for the duration of the callee subprogram's execution. The value of the setting that is in force just before the call is saved on entry. And then, when control returns to the caller, the saved value is restored. Because using a configuration parameter meets your requirement declaratively, doing this is preferred to writing your own code to save the caller's value on entry to the callee and to restore it on return to the caller. Here's an example: you want to lock the two rows that you'll change before changing either of them; you want to specify the value for lock_timeout; but you don't want the value that you set to endure .

create table t(k int primary key, v int not null);
insert into t(k, v) values (17, 1234), (42, 5678);

create procedure p(k1 in int, k2 in int, a in int)
  set lock_timeout = 50
  language plpgsql
as $body$
  raise info 'current lock_timeout: %', current_setting('lock_timeout');

  perform * from t where k in (k1, k2) for update;
  update t set v = v - a where k = k1;
  update t set v = v + a where k = k2;

set lock_timeout = 0;
call p(17, 42, 9999);
show lock_timeout;


The security attribute determines the identity of the effective role (as is observed with the current_role built-in function) with which SQL issued by a subprogram executes. The allowed values are definer and invoker. The default is invoker.

  • A security definer subprogram executes with the privileges of the subprogram's owner. The general use-case is to allow a low-privileged invoking role to execute specific intended actions that require privileges (or role attributes) that the invoker does not possess.
  • A security invoker subprogram executes with the privileges of the session_user.

It's important to understand how unqualified names in SQL statements in a subprogram's implementation are resolved. This is explained in the section Name resolution within anonymous blocks and user-defined subprograms.

Try the following demonstration. It connects to the database demo and relies on two roles, u1 (which owns the schema called u1) and u2 (which doesn't need to own a schema).

First connect as u1 and create the artifacts that the demonstration needs:

\c demo u1
grant usage on schema u1 to u2;

drop table if exists u1.t cascade;
drop function if exists u1.security_definer_result(int) cascade;
drop function if exists u1.security_invoker_result(int) cascade;

create table u1.t(k int primary key, v text not null);
insert into  u1.t(k, v) values(42, 'Selected value of "v" in "u1.t"');

create function u1.security_definer_result(k_in in int)
  returns table(z text)
  language plpgsql
  security definer
as $body$
  z := 'session_user: '||session_user;          return next;
  z := 'current_role: '||current_role;          return next;
  z := (select v from u1.t where k = k_in);     return next;

grant execute on function security_definer_result(int) to u2;

create function u1.security_invoker_result(k_in in int)
  returns table(z text)
  security invoker
  language plpgsql
as $body$
  z := 'session_user: '||session_user;                               return next;
  z := 'current_role: '||current_role;                               return next;
  z := (select v from u1.t where k = k_in);                          return next;
  when insufficient_privilege then
    z := current_role||' has no privilege to select from u1.t';      return next;

grant execute on function security_invoker_result(int) to u2;

Now connect as u2 to see the behavior difference between a subprogram that has security definer and one that has security invoker:

\c demo u2

select u1.security_definer_result(42);
select u1.security_invoker_result(42);

This is the result:

 session_user: u2
 current_role: u1
 Selected value of "v" in "u1.t"

 session_user: u2
 current_role: u2
 u2 has no privilege to select from u1.t

The optional 'external' keyword is allowed just for SQL conformance.

Unlike in some SQL systems, external applies to all functions—and not just to external ones. So it actually has no effect. Yugabyte therefore recommends that you omit it.