A developer's braindump

PostgreSQL - new jsonb feature exploration - insert, query, index

In this post, I will explore the (not really new) postgreSQL jsonb feature as my objective is to compare nosql performance in real scenarii.

  • postgreSQL 9.4.4 installed (you can check by issuing the following : select version();)
  • pgAdmin installed
  • this runs on a HP probook 6560b

    • Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2520M CPU @ 2.50GHz, 2501 Mhz, 2 Core(s), 4 Logical Processor(s)
    • 16 G of ram
  • create the database.
  • import some data (1M of contact records)
  • query without index
  • add a gin index
  • query after index
  • create specific index on field
  • query on indexed fields

1. Create the database

Connect to your postgres installation with pgAdmin and issue the following to create the table. I've create a schema, but you're not required to.


CREATE TABLE business."Contact"
  "ID" bigint NOT NULL,
  first_name character varying(100),
  last_name character varying(100),
  extended json,
  niss character varying(11),
  CONSTRAINT "Contact_pkey" PRIMARY KEY ("ID")
ALTER TABLE business."Contact"
  OWNER TO postgres;

This simply creates a table Contact with ID as primary key, some columns and a field extended of type jsonb. No index for now.

2. Import data

This might be improved, but as I had some code to import my files in the DB, I just used it.

Just create a Console project in visual studio 2015.

install nuget packages : CsvHelper, Newtonsoft.Json and Npgsql

I've used these:

  <package id="CsvHelper" version="" targetFramework="net45" />
  <package id="Newtonsoft.Json" version="9.0.1-beta1" targetFramework="net45" />
  <package id="Npgsql" version="3.1.4" targetFramework="net45" />

copy paste the code below and run the project. (It took about 50 minutes and I am sure there are better ways to import these data)

[code lang=csharp] namespace PGImport { class Program { static void Main(string[] args) { Stopwatch watch = new Stopwatch(); watch.Start(); ImportContact(@"C:\projects\learn\Neo4j\sandbox\sample-data\contact-list-1.csv"); ImportContact(@"C:\projects\learn\Neo4j\sandbox\sample-data\contact-list-2.csv"); ImportContact(@"C:\projects\learn\Neo4j\sandbox\sample-data\contact-list-3.csv"); ImportContact(@"C:\projects\learn\Neo4j\sandbox\sample-data\contact-list-4.csv"); ImportContact(@"C:\projects\learn\Neo4j\sandbox\sample-data\contact-list-5.csv"); ImportContact(@"C:\projects\learn\Neo4j\sandbox\sample-data\contact-list-6.csv"); ImportContact(@"C:\projects\learn\Neo4j\sandbox\sample-data\contact-list-7.csv"); ImportContact(@"C:\projects\learn\Neo4j\sandbox\sample-data\contact-list-8.csv"); ImportContact(@"C:\projects\learn\Neo4j\sandbox\sample-data\contact-list-9.csv"); ImportContact(@"C:\projects\learn\Neo4j\sandbox\sample-data\contact-list-10.csv"); watch.Stop(); Console.WriteLine(watch.ElapsedMilliseconds / 1000 + "sec"); Console.ReadLine(); }

    public static void ImportContact(string filePath)
        using (var reader = File.OpenText(filePath))
            NpgsqlConnection conn = new 

                var csv = new CsvReader(reader);
                while (csv.Read())
                    var seq = csv.GetField<int>("seq");
                    var first = csv.GetField<string>("first");
                    var last = csv.GetField<string>("last");
                    var age = csv.GetField<int>("age");
                    var street = csv.GetField<string>("street");
                    var city = csv.GetField<string>("city");
                    var state = csv.GetField<string>("state");
                    var zip = csv.GetField<string>("zip");
                    var birthday = csv.GetField<string>("birthday");
                    var domain = csv.GetField<string>("pick");
                    var gender = csv.GetField<string>("gender");
                    var phone = csv.GetField<string>("phone");
                    var niss1 = new Random().Next(500101, 999999);
                    var niss2 = new Random().Next(11111, 99999);
                    string niss = niss1.ToString() + niss2.ToString();

                    var streetNumber = 1;
                    IFormatProvider culture = new System.Globalization.CultureInfo("fr-FR", true);
                    var birthdayeAsdate = Convert.ToDateTime(birthday, culture);
                    var email = $"{first}.{last}@{domain}";

                    Contact c = new Contact()
                        Street = street,
                        StreetNumber = streetNumber,
                        City = city,
                        State = state,
                        Zip = zip,
                        Age = age,
                        BirthDay = birthdayeAsdate,
                        Gender = gender,
                        Phone = phone,
                        Email = email

                    var serialized = Ser(c);
                    var query = $"insert into business.\"Contact\"( \"ID\", first_name, last_name, niss, extended) values({seq}, '{first}', '{last}', '{niss}','{serialized}' )";

                    NpgsqlCommand cmd = new NpgsqlCommand(query, conn);

    public static string Ser(object obj)
        using (var stringWriter = new StringWriter())
            using (var writer = new JsonTextWriter(stringWriter)
                //add some options if needed
                new JsonSerializer { NullValueHandling = NullValueHandling.Ignore }.Serialize(writer, obj);
            var res = stringWriter.ToString();

            return res;


public class Contact
    public Int32? Id { get; set; }
    public String FirstName { get; set; }
    public String LastName { get; set; }
    public Int32? Age { get; set; }
    public String Street { get; set; }
    public String City { get; set; }
    public String State { get; set; }
    public String Zip { get; set; }
    public Int32? StreetNumber { get; set; }
    public String Email { get; set; }
    public String Phone { get; set; }
    public DateTime? BirthDay { get; set; }
    public String Gender { get; set; }

} [/code]

3. Query without and with index

The listing below collects the queries I used to perform my tests and comparison. You can copy/paste the listing below to execute the queries on your own machine one by one. At the end of the file, you can find the statement used to create the indexes.

I issued the queries in the following order:

  • with column of type json
  • after converting to jsonb
  • with gin index
  • with index on specific fields
-- simple select
SELECT "ID", extended->>'Zip' as zip FROM business."Contact" limit 100;
--field type json (no index):13ms
--field type jsonb 
--no index : 12ms
--with gin index : 12ms
--with indexes on email and zip : 12ms

-- select with cast to int and greater then
SELECT "ID", extended->>'Zip' as zip, extended->>'Email' as email  FROM business."Contact"
WHERE CAST(extended->>'Zip' AS integer) > 2000
Order by zip desc
limit 100
--field type json (no index) : 9267ms
--field type jsonb 
--no index : 1731ms
--with gin index : 1837ms
--with indexes on email and zip : 13ms

-- select with cast to int and greater then
SELECT "ID", extended->>'Zip' as zip, extended->>'Email' as email  FROM business."Contact"
WHERE (extended->>'Zip')::int > 2000
Order by zip desc
limit 100
--field type json (no index):9278
--field type jsonb 
--no index : 1634ms
--with gin index : 1822ms
--with indexes on email and zip : 14ms

-- select containment
SELECT "ID", extended->>'Zip' as zip, extended->>'Email' as email  FROM business."Contact"
WHERE extended @> '{"Email": "Harriett.Thornton@twitter.com"}'
--field type json (no index) : does not support containment -> @>
--field type jsonb 
--no index : 623ms
--with gin index : 12ms
--with indexes on email and zip : 13ms

-- select with like
SELECT "ID", extended->>'Zip' as zip, extended->>'Email' as email  FROM business."Contact"
WHERE extended->>'Email' Like '%W%' AND (extended->>'Zip')::int > 2000
order by email desc limit 100
--field type json (no index):4130ms
--field type jsonb 
--no index 1014ms
--with gin index : 1073ms
--with indexes on email and zip : 13ms

--Index creation
-- change to jsonb
ALTER TABLE business."Contact"
  ALTER COLUMN extended
  USING extended::jsonb;
-- Gin 
CREATE INDEX extended_data_gin ON business."Contact" USING GIN (extended);
-- index on field zip
CREATE INDEX ON business."Contact" ((extended->>'Zip'));
-- index on field email
CREATE INDEX ON business."Contact" ((extended->>'Email'));

4. Conclusions so far

  • even without index, I found that the elapsed time was reasonable.
  • converting from json to jsonb greatly enhanced the performance.
  • after creating the GIN index, only the query with '@>' (containment) was faster, the other stayed the same.
  • after creating index on fields... well... it was very fast for all queries

TODO Next:

  • usage of more complex queries (SUM, AVG, Distinct...)
  • why were the queries not faster after creating the GIN index.
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