How To Guides
How to use GET_DDL in PostgreSQL?

How to use GET_DDL in PostgreSQL?

GET_DDL is not a built-in function or command in PostgreSQL.

When it comes to managing and interacting with databases, understanding the structure and schema of your database objects is crucial. In PostgreSQL, a popular open-source relational database system, one might occasionally come across references to a GET_DDL function, purportedly used to extract the Data Definition Language (DDL) statements for database objects like tables, views, and indexes. However, it's essential to clarify right from the outset: PostgreSQL does not have a built-in GET_DDL function. This article aims to demystify this topic and provide practical alternatives for achieving similar outcomes.

Understanding the Basics of GET_DDL

Before diving into the depths of GET_DDL, let's first gain a comprehensive understanding of what it entails. GET_DDL is a built-in function in PostgreSQL that allows you to extract the DDL statements associated with a specific object. Whether you need to obtain the CREATE TABLE statement for a table, the CREATE VIEW statement for a view, or any other relevant code, GET_DDL comes to the rescue.

Prior to PostgreSQL 9.0, retrieving DDL statements required manually examining the system catalogs and constructing the code manually. With the introduction of GET_DDL, this process became significantly more streamlined, saving developers valuable time and effort.

What is GET_DDL?

In essence, GET_DDL is a function that takes an object identifier as input and returns the corresponding DDL statements required to create that object. The output of GET_DDL is formatted as a single string, making it easily readable and usable in various scenarios.

Importance of GET_DDL in PostgreSQL

GET_DDL is not a built-in function or command in PostgreSQL. PostgreSQL provides various ways to obtain the DDL (Data Definition Language) statements for database objects such as tables, views, indexes, etc., but it typically involves using the pg_dump utility or querying the PostgreSQL system catalogs directly.

If you're looking to generate DDL statements for objects within a PostgreSQL database, here are a few methods you might find useful:

Alternatives to GET_DDL in PostgreSQL

Using pg_dump

To get the DDL for a specific table, you can use the pg_dump tool with the -t option followed by the table's name. For example, to get the DDL for a table named your_table in a database named your_database, you would run:

pg_dump -s -t 'your_table' your_database

The -s option specifies that you only want the schema (DDL) not the data.

Querying the System Catalogs

PostgreSQL's system catalogs store metadata about all the database objects. You can write SQL queries against these catalogs to generate DDL statements, although this can be complex and the output will not be exactly the same as what you would get from pg_dump.

For example, to get the definition of a view, you could query the pg_views catalog:

SELECT definition FROM pg_views WHERE viewname = 'your_view';

For more complex objects like tables, you might need to query multiple catalogs (pg_class, pg_attribute, pg_index, etc.) and construct the DDL statement yourself.

Extensions and Tools

There are also third-party tools and PostgreSQL extensions that can generate DDL scripts for you. One popular extension is pgAdmin, a web-based administration tool for PostgreSQL that includes features for generating DDL scripts for database objects through its UI.

If you have encountered GET_DDL in a specific context or tool related to PostgreSQL, it might be a feature or function provided by that specific tool or a user-defined function. In such cases, referring to the documentation of the tool or the source where you found GET_DDL would be helpful.

Best Practices for DDL Extraction in PostgreSQL

  • Regular Backup: Use pg_dump regularly to backup your schema. This not only serves as a means to extract DDL but also ensures you have recent backups of your schema.
  • Version Control: Store your DDL scripts in version control systems. This practice is invaluable for tracking changes over time and facilitates team collaboration.
  • Documentation: Maintain documentation of your database schema. Automated tools can help generate this documentation from DDL scripts, keeping it up-to-date and accessible.


While PostgreSQL does not offer a GET_DDL function out of the box, several methods and tools are available to retrieve the DDL statements for database objects. Whether through direct use of the pg_dump utility, querying system catalogs for a more hands-on approach, or leveraging third-party tools for ease of use, PostgreSQL provides the flexibility and power to manage your database schema effectively. As with many aspects of database administration, understanding your needs and the tools at your disposal is key to selecting the best approach for schema extraction and management.

Our SQL Assistant streamlines query creation, accelerates debugging, and ensures your queries are impactful and enduring—no matter your skill level. Elevate your SQL game - Try CastorDoc today.

New Release

Get in Touch to Learn More

See Why Users Love CastorDoc
Fantastic tool for data discovery and documentation

“[I like] The easy to use interface and the speed of finding the relevant assets that you're looking for in your database. I also really enjoy the score given to each table, [which] lets you prioritize the results of your queries by how often certain data is used.” - Michal P., Head of Data