Motivation

PostgREST is a standalone web server that turns your PostgreSQL database directly into a RESTful API. The structural constraints and permissions in the database determine the API endpoints and operations.

Using PostgREST is an alternative to manual CRUD programming. Custom API servers suffer problems. Writing business logic often duplicates, ignores or hobbles database structure. Object-relational mapping is a leaky abstraction leading to slow imperative code. The PostgREST philosophy establishes a single declarative source of truth: the data itself.

Declarative Programming

It’s easier to ask PostgreSQL to join data for you and let its query planner figure out the details than to loop through rows yourself. It’s easier to assign permissions to db objects than to add guards in controllers. (This is especially true for cascading permissions in data dependencies.) It’s easier to set constraints than to litter code with sanity checks.

Leak-proof Abstraction

There is no ORM involved. Creating new views happens in SQL with known performance implications. A database administrator can now create an API from scratch with no custom programming.

Embracing the Relational Model

In 1970 E. F. Codd criticized the then-dominant hierarchical model of databases in his article A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks. Reading the article reveals a striking similarity between hierarchical databases and nested http routes. With PostgREST we attempt to use flexible filtering and embedding rather than nested routes.

One Thing Well

PostgREST has a focused scope. It works well with other tools like Nginx. This forces you to cleanly separate the data-centric CRUD operations from other concerns. Use a collection of sharp tools rather than building a big ball of mud.

Shared Improvements

As with any open source project, we all gain from features and fixes in the tool. It’s more beneficial than improvements locked inextricably within custom code-bases.

Ecosystem

PostgREST has a growing ecosystem of examples, and libraries, experiments, and users. Here is a selection.

External Notification

These are PostgreSQL bridges that propagate LISTEN/NOTIFY to external queues for further processing. This allows stored procedures to initiate actions outside the database such as sending emails.

Example Apps

Extensions

Commercial

  • subZero - Automated GraphQL & REST API with built-in caching (powered in part by PostgREST)

Testimonials

“It’s so fast to develop, it feels like cheating!”

—François-G. Ribreau

“I just have to say that, the CPU/Memory usage compared to our Node.js/Waterline ORM based API is ridiculous. It’s hard to even push it over 60/70 MB while our current API constantly hits 1GB running on 6 instances (dynos).”

—Louis Brauer

“I really enjoyed the fact that all of a sudden I was writing microservices in SQL DDL (and v8 javascript functions). I dodged so much boilerplate. The next thing I knew, we pulled out a full rewrite of a Spring+MySQL legacy app in 6 months. Literally 10x faster, and code was super concise. The old one took 3 years and a team of 4 people to develop.”

—Simone Scarduzio

Getting Support

The project has a friendly and growing community. Join our chat room for discussion and help. You can also report or search for bugs/features on the Github issues page.