How to Generate a CREATE TABLE Statement for an Existing Table in PostgreSQL


PostgreSQL doesn't directly offer a way to programmatically generate the "CREATE TABLE" statement for an existing table. However, you can achieve this using a built-in function called information_schema.information_schema.sql_define_table.

Here's how it works:

  1. This function takes the table name as input.
  2. It analyzes the existing table structure, including columns, data types, constraints, and keys.
  3. It then generates the corresponding "CREATE TABLE" statement based on the analysis.

Important points to remember:

  • The function provides the statement for the table definition only. It won't include any data currently present in the table.
  • You can use this within SQL code or through a client tool like pgAdmin or phpPgAdmin. These tools often have a built-in feature to generate the CREATE TABLE statement for a selected table.

Here are some resources for further reference:

Absolutely, here are a couple of code examples to demonstrate how to generate the "CREATE TABLE" statement for an existing table in PostgreSQL:

Example 1: Using information_schema.sql_define_table

SELECT information_schema.sql_define_table('your_table_name');

Replace 'your_table_name' with the actual name of the table you want to generate the CREATE statement for. This code will return a string containing the complete CREATE TABLE statement for the specified table.

Example 2: Using pg_catalog functions (more advanced)

This example utilizes several functions from the pg_catalog schema to achieve the same result. It might be slightly more complex but offers more granular control.

WITH column_data AS (
  SELECT a.attname AS column_name,
         pg_catalog.format_type(a.atttypid, a.atttypmod) AS data_type,
         a.attnotnull AS not_null,
         pg_catalog.pg_get_expr(d.adbin, d.adrelid) AS default_value
  FROM pg_catalog.pg_attribute a
  JOIN pg_class c ON a.attrelid = c.oid
  LEFT JOIN pg_catalog.pg_attrdef d ON d.adrelid = a.attrelid AND d.adnum = a.attnum
  WHERE c.relname = 'your_table_name'
  AND a.attnum > 0
  AND NOT a.attisdropped
  AND c.relkind = 'r'
SELECT 'CREATE TABLE ' || c.relname || '(' ||
       string_agg(column_data.column_name || ' ' || column_data.data_type ||
                  CASE WHEN column_data.not_null THEN ' NOT NULL' ELSE '' END ||
                  CASE WHEN column_data.default_value IS NOT NULL THEN ' DEFAULT ' || column_data.default_value ELSE '' END, ', ') ||
       ')' AS create_table_statement
FROM pg_class c
JOIN column_data ON c.relname = 'your_table_name'
GROUP BY c.relname;

This code first retrieves information about the table's columns using functions like pg_catalog.format_type and pg_catalog.pg_get_expr. Then it aggregates the data and builds the final CREATE TABLE statement.


  • Replace 'your_table_name' with the actual table name in both examples.
  • These examples won't include constraints like primary or foreign keys defined on the table. You might need additional queries to capture those.

Absolutely, here are some alternate methods to generate the CREATE TABLE statement for an existing table in PostgreSQL besides using functions within SQL code:

Using Graphical User Interface (GUI) tools:

  • Many PostgreSQL client tools offer a built-in feature to generate the CREATE TABLE statement for a selected table. This is often the most user-friendly approach.
    • Some popular options include pgAdmin, phpPgAdmin, DataGrip, and TablePlus.
    • Look for functionalities like "Script Table Definition," "Generate CREATE TABLE," or similar options within these tools.

Using pg_dump (with limitations):

  • While pg_dump is primarily used for backing up entire databases, it can be used with specific options to generate the CREATE TABLE statement for a single table. However, this approach has limitations:
    • It will include the data present in the table, which might not be desirable in all cases.
    • You'll need to filter the output to extract only the CREATE TABLE statement.

Here's a basic example using pg_dump:

pg_dump -h your_host -U your_username your_database -t your_table_name -n | grep CREATE TABLE


  • Replace placeholders like your_host, your_username, your_database, and your_table_name with your actual credentials.
  • The grep CREATE TABLE part filters the output to capture only the relevant line.

Choosing the right method:

  • If you're comfortable with SQL and want programmatic control, using information_schema.sql_define_table is a good option.
  • For a quick and user-friendly approach, GUI tools are ideal.
  • If you need to script the process or are comfortable with command-line tools, pg_dump (with filtering) can be used, but be aware of its limitations regarding data inclusion.


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