On Mon, Sep 4, 2017 at 4:15 PM, Tom Lane <t...@sss.pgh.pa.us> wrote:
> Also, the main thing that we need xact.c's involvement for in the first
> place is the fact that implicit transaction blocks, unlike regular ones,
> auto-cancel on an error, leaving you outside a block not inside a failed
> one.  So I don't exactly see how savepoints would fit into that.

I think this hits the nail on the head and should have a place in the
official docs as I now realize I didn't grasp this distinction before
I read this. My mental model was always "sending a bunch of semicolon
separated queries without BEGIN/COMMIT/ROLLBACK; in one PQexec is like
sending them one by one preceeded by a BEGIN; and followed by a
COMMIT; except you only get the response from the last one". Also,
explain what happens when there are BEGIN/ROLLBACK/COMMIT inside that
multiquery string, that's still not completely clear to me and I don't
want to reverse engineer it from your patch.

> Now admittedly, the same set of issues pops up if one uses an
> explicit transaction block in a multi-query string:
>
> begin\; insert ...\; savepoint\; insert ...\; release savepoint\; insert 
> ...\; commit;

According to my mental model described above, this would be exactly
the same as without the begin; and commit; which is not the case so I
think the distinction is worth explaining.

I think the lack of a more detailed explanation about the stuff above
confuses *a lot* of people, especially newcomers, and the confusion is
only increased by what client drivers do on top (like issuing implicit
BEGIN if configured in various modes specified by
language-specific-DB-independent specs like Python's DBAPI or Java's
JDBC) and one's background from other DBs that do it differently.

Speaking of the above, psql also doesn't explicitly document how it
groups lines of the file it's executing into PQexec calls. See below
for a personal example of the confusions all this generates.

I also encountered this FATAL a month ago in the context of "we have
some (migration schema) queries in some files and want to orchestrate
running them for testing". Initially we started with calling psql but
then we needed some client side logic for some other stuff and
switched to Python and Psycopg2. We did "read the whole file in a
Python string" and then call Psycopg2's execute() on that string. Note
that Psycopg2 only uses PQexec to issue queries. We had some SAVEPOINT
statements in the file which lead to the backend stopping and the next
Psycopg2 execute() on that connection saying Connection closed.
It was already confusing why Psycopg2 behaves differently than psql
(because we were issuing the whole file in one PQexec vs. psql
splitting on ; and issuing multiple PQexecs and SAVEPOINTs working
there) and the backend stopping only added to that confusion. Add on
top of that "Should we put BEGIN; and COMMIT; in the file itself? Or
is a single Psycopg2 execute() enough to have this schema migration be
applied transactionally? Is there a difference between the two?".

I searched the docs for existing explanations of multiquery strings
and found these references but all of them are a bit hand wavy:
- psql's reference explaining -c
- libpq's PQexec explanation
- the message flow document in the FE/BE protocol description


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