firebird_fdw 1.3.0

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firebird_fdw 1.3.0
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A PostgreSQL foreign data wrapper (FDW) for Firebird
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firebird_fdw 1.3.0
A PostgreSQL foreign data wrapper (FDW) for Firebird


Installing firebird_fdw on CentOS/Redhat
Installing firebird_fdw on Debian/Ubuntu
Installing firebird_fdw on OS X
PostgreSQL and Firebird character set encoding compatibility


Firebird Foreign Data Wrapper for PostgreSQL

This is a foreign data wrapper (FDW) to connect PostgreSQL to Firebird. It provides both read (SELECT) and write (INSERT/UPDATE/DELETE) support, as well as pushdown of some operations. While it appears to be working reliably, please be aware this is still very much work-in-progress; USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

firebird_fdw is designed to be compatible with PostgreSQL 9.5 ~ 15. The range of firebird_fdw options available for a particular PostgreSQL version depends on the state of the Foreign Data Wrapper (FDW) API for that version; the more recent the version, the more features will be available. However, not all FDW API features are currently supported.

firebird_fdw supports Firebird 2.5 and later. It will probably work with Firebird 2.0 or later, and may work with earlier versions if the disable_pushdowns option is set (see below), but has never been tested with those versions.

firebird_fdw is developed against the core PostgreSQL community version and may not be compatible with commercial forks.

This README represents the documentation for the current development version of firebird_fdw. Stable documentation for previous releases is available at the following links:


  1. Features
  2. Supported platforms
  3. Installation
  4. Usage
  5. Functions
  6. Identifier case handling
  7. Generated columns
  8. Character set handling
  9. Examples
  10. Limitations
  11. TAP tests
  12. Development roadmap
  13. Useful links


  • UPDATE and DELETE statements use Firebird's row identifier RDB$DB_KEY to operate on arbitrary rows
  • ANALYZE support
  • pushdown of some WHERE clause conditions to Firebird (including translation of built-in functions)
  • Connection caching
  • Supports triggers on foreign tables
  • Supports IMPORT FOREIGN SCHEMA (PostgreSQL 9.5 and later)
  • Supports COPY and partition tuple routing (PostgreSQL 11 and later)
  • Supports TRUNCATE operations (PostgreSQL 14 and later)

Supported platforms

firebird_fdw was developed on Linux and OS X, and should run on any reasonably POSIX-compliant system.

While in theory it should work on Windows, I am not able to support that platform. I am however happy to accept any assistance with porting it to Windows.


Specific installation instructions for the following operating systems are provided separately:

Source installation


  • Firebird client library and API header file (ibase.h)
  • libfq, a libpq-like API wrapper for the Firebird C API; see:

    NOTE the latest libfq version should be used with the current firebird_fdw version, as the two are usually developed in tandem.

The Firebird include/library files often end up in non-standard locations; PG_CPPFLAGS and SHLIB_LINK can be used to provide the appropriate flags. The Firebird utility fb_config can assist with locating the appropriate locations.

firebird_fdw is installed as a PostgreSQL extension; it requires the pg_config binary for the target installation to be in the shell path.

USE_PGXS=1 make install should take care of the actual compilation and installation.

IMPORTANT: you must build firebird_fdw against the PostgreSQL version it will be installed on.



firebird_fdw accepts the following options via the CREATE SERVER command:

  • address

    The Firebird server's address (default: localhost)

  • port

    The Firebird server's port (default: 3050)

  • database

    The name of the Firebird database to connect to.

  • updatable

    A boolean value indicating whether the foreign server as a whole is updatable. Default is true. Note that this can be overridden by table-level settings.

  • disable_pushdowns

    Turns off pushdowns of WHERE clause elements to Firebird. Useful mainly for debugging and benchmarking.

  • quote_identifiers

    Quote all identifiers (table and column names) by default. This can be overridden with quote_identifier = 'false' for individual table and column names.

    See "Identifier case handling" for details.

    firebird_fdw 1.2.0 and later.

  • implicit_bool_type

    Turns on implicit conversion of Firebird integer types to PostgreSQL BOOLEAN types. This is an experimental feature and is disabled by default. See column option implicit_bool_type for details.

    firebird_fdw 1.2.0 and later.

  • batch_size

    Specifies the number of rows which should be inserted in a single INSERT operation. This setting can be overridden for individual tables.

    firebird_fdw 1.3.0 and later / PostgreSQL 14 and later.


firebird_fdw accepts the following options via the CREATE USER MAPPING command:

  • username

    The Firebird username to connect as (not case-sensitive).

  • password

    The Firebird user's password.


firebird_fdw accepts the following table-level options via the CREATE FOREIGN TABLE command:

  • table_name

    The Firebird table name, if different to the PostgreSQL foreign table name. Cannot be used together with the query option.

  • quote_identifier

    Pass the table name to Firebird as a quoted identifier. See "Identifier case handling" for details. firebird_fdw 1.2.0 and later.

  • query

    A Firebird SQL statement producing a result set which can be treated like a read-only view. Cannot be used together with the table_name option.

  • updatable

    A boolean value indicating whether the table is updatable. Default is true. Note that this overrides the server-level setting. Cannot be set for the query option.

  • estimated_row_count

    An integer indicating the expected number of rows in the Firebird table, or rows which would be returned by the statement defined in query. If not set, an attempt will be made to determine the number of rows by executing SELECT COUNT(*) FROM ..., which can be inefficient, particularly for queries.

The following column-level options are available:

  • column_name

    The Firebird column name, if different to the column name defined in the foreign table. This can also be used for foreign tables defined with the query option.

  • quote_identifier

    Pass the column name to Firebird as a quoted identifier. See section See "Identifier case handling" for details. firebird_fdw 1.2.0 and later.

  • implicit_bool_type

    Set this option on a BOOLEAN column to true to indicate that the corresponding column in the Firebird table is a integer column which should be treated as an implicit BOOLEAN type.

    It is assumed that the Firebird column contains one of:

    • 0 to indicate FALSE
    • any other value to indicate TRUE
    • NULL

    The implied boolean values will be transparently translated to PostgreSQL BOOLEAN values. WHERE clauses with implicit boolean expressions will be pushed down to Firebird in the same way as normal boolean expressions.

    Note that firebird_fdw will currently not push down a boolean scalar array operation expression such as WHERE boolcol IN (TRUE, NULL). However the semantically equivalent WHERE boolcol IS NOT FALSE will be pushed down.

    This is an experimental feature in firebird_fdw 1.2.0 and requires that the server-level option implicit_bool_type is also set to true (Firebird 3.0 and later).

    If the Firebird server is version 2.5.x, this option does not need to be set and firebird_fdw will automatically assume that the Firebird column represents an implicit boolean. This functionality may work on earlier Firebird versions but has not been tested with them.

  • batch_size

    See CREATE SERVER options section for details.

    firebird_fdw 1.3.0 and later / PostgreSQL 14 and later.

Note that while PostgreSQL allows a foreign table to be defined without any columns, firebird_fdw will raise an error as soon as any operations are carried out on it.


firebird_fdw supports IMPORT FOREIGN SCHEMA (when running with PostgreSQL 9.5 or later) and accepts the following custom options:

  • import_not_null

    Determines whether column NOT NULL constraints are included in the definitions of foreign tables imported from a Firebid server. The default is true.

  • import_views

    Determines whether Firebird views are imported as foreign tables. The default is true.

  • updatable

    If set to false, mark all imported foreign tables as not updatable. The default is true.

  • verbose

    Logs the name of each table or view being imported at log level INFO.

IMPORT FOREIGN SCHEMA will quote Firebird table column names if required, and if the Firebird name is entirely lower-case, will add the appropriate quote_identifier option to the PostgreSQL table definition.

Note that when specifying the LIMIT TO option, any quoted table names will result in the corresponding PostgreSQL foreign table being created with a quoted table name. This is due to PostgreSQL's foreign data wrapper API, which filters the table definitions passed back from the foreign data wrapper on the basis of the table name provided in the IMPORT FOREIGN SCHEMA command. However, Firebird table names which are entirely lower-case can currently not be provided as quoted column names as PostgreSQL considers these as unquoted by default and the foreign data wrapper has no way of knowing whether they were originally quoted.

TRUNCATE support

firebird_fdw implements the foreign data wrapper TRUNCATE API, available from PostgreSQL 14.

As Firebird does not provide a TRUNCATE command, it is simulated with a simple unqualified DELETE operation.

Following restrictions apply:

  • TRUNCATE ... CASCADE is not supported
  • TRUNCATE ... RESTART IDENTITY is not supported
  • Firebird tables with foreign key references cannot be truncated

These restrictions may be removed in future releases.


As well as the standard firebird_fdw_handler() and firebird_fdw_validator() functions, firebird_fdw provides the following user-callable utility functions:

  • firebird_fdw_version()

    Returns the version number as an integer.

  • firebird_fdw_close_connections()

    Closes all cached connections from PostgreSQL to Firebird in the current session.

  • firebird_fdw_server_options(servername TEXT)

    Returns the server-level option settings for the named server (either the options provided to CREATE SERVER or if not provided, the respective default values); example:

    postgres=# SELECT * FROM firebird_fdw_server_options('firebird_server'); name | value | provided --------------------+----------------------------------------------+---------- address | localhost | t port | 3050 | f database | /var/lib/firebird/data/firebird_fdw_test.fdb | t updatable | true | f quote_identifiers | false | f implicit_bool_type | false | f disable_pushdowns | false | t (7 rows)

    (firebird_fdw 1.2.0 and later)

  • firebird_fdw_diag()

    Returns ad-hoc information about the Firebird FDW in key/value form, example:

    postgres=# SELECT * FROM firebird_fdw_diag(); name | setting -----------------------------+--------- firebird_fdw_version | 10100 firebird_fdw_version_string | 1.1.0 libfq_version | 400 libfq_version_string | 0.4.0 cached_connection_count | 1 (5 rows)

  • firebird_version()

    Returns the Firebird version numbers for each firebird_fdw foreign server defined in the current database, for example:

    postgres=# SELECT * FROM firebird_version(); server_name | firebird_version | firebird_version_string -----------------+------------------+------------------------- firebird_server | 30005 | 3.0.5 (1 row)

    Note that this function will open a connection to each Firebird server if no previously cached connection exists. It will return a row for each user mapping defined, even if those map to the same Firebird server.

    (firebird_fdw 1.2.0 and later)

Identifier case handling

As PostgreSQL and Firebird take opposite approaches to case folding (PostgreSQL folds identifiers to lower case by default, Firebird to upper case), it's important to be aware of potential issues with table and column names.

When defining foreign tables, PostgreSQL will pass any identifiers which do not require quoting to Firebird as-is, defaulting to lower-case. Firebird will then implictly fold these to upper case. For example, given the following table definitions in Firebird and PostgreSQL:


  col1 INT
SERVER fb_test

and given the PostgreSQL query:

SELECT col1 FROM casetest1

firebird_fdw will generate the following Firebird query:

SELECT col1 FROM casetest1

which is valid in both PostgreSQL and Firebird.

By default, PostgreSQL will pass any identifiers which do require quoting according to PostgreSQL's definition as quoted identifiers to Firebird. For example, given the following table definitions in Firebird and PostgreSQL:

  "Col1" INT

  "Col1" INT
SERVER fb_test

and given the PostgreSQL query:

SELECT "Col1" FROM "CASEtest2"

firebird_fdw will generate the following Firebird query:

SELECT "Col1" FROM "CASEtest2"

which is also valid in both PostgreSQL and Firebird.

The same query will also be generated if the Firebird table and column names are specified as options:

  col1 INT OPTIONS (column_name 'Col1')
SERVER fb_test
OPTIONS (table_name 'CASEtest2')

However PostgreSQL will not quote lower-case identifiers by default. With the following Firebird and PostgreSQL table definitions:

CREATE TABLE "casetest3" (
  "col1" INT

  "col1" INT
SERVER fb_test

any attempt to access the foreign table casetest3 will result in the Firebird error Table unknown: CASETEST3, as Firebird is receiving the unquoted PostgreSQL table name and folding it to upper case.

To ensure the correct table or column name is included in queries sent to Firebird, from firebird_fdw 1.2.0 the table or column-level option quote_identifier can be provided, which will force the table or column name to be passed as a quoted identifier. The preceding foreign table should be defined like this:

  col1 INT OPTIONS (quote_identifier 'true')
SERVER fb_test
OPTIONS (quote_identifier 'true')

and given the PostgreSQL query:

SELECT col1 FROM casetest3

firebird_fdw will generate the following Firebird query:

SELECT "col1" FROM "casetest3"

The server-level option quote_identifiers can be set to true to quote all identifiers (table and column names) by default. This setting can be overridden for individual table and column names by setting the respective quote_identifier option to false.

Generated columns

firebird_fdw (1.2.0 and later) provides support for PostgreSQL's generated columns (PostgreSQL 12 and later).

Note that while firebird_fdw will insert or update the generated column value in Firebird, there is nothing to stop the value being modified within Firebird, and hence no guarantee that in subsequent SELECT operations the column will still contain the expected generated value. This limitation also applies to postgres_fdw.

For more details on generated columns see:

Character set handling

When firebird_fdw connects to a Firebird database, it will set the client encoding to the PostgreSQL database's server encoding. As there is a broad overlap between PostgreSQL and Firebird character set encodings, mostly this will succeed, particularly with the more common encodings such as UTF8 and LATIN1. A small subset of PostgreSQL encodings for which Firebird provides a corresponding encoding but no matching name or alias will be rewritten transparently by firebird_fdw. For more details see the file PostgreSQL and Firebird character set encoding compatibility.


Install the extension:

CREATE EXTENSION firebird_fdw;

Create a foreign server with appropriate configuration:

CREATE SERVER firebird_server
    address 'localhost',
    database '/path/to/database'

Create an appropriate user mapping:

  OPTIONS(username 'sysdba', password 'masterke');

Create a foreign table referencing the Firebird table fdw_test:

  val VARCHAR(2048)
SERVER firebird_server
  table_name 'fdw_test'

As above, but with aliased column names:

  id SMALLINT OPTIONS (column_name 'test_id'),
  val VARCHAR(2048) OPTIONS (column_name 'test_val')
SERVER firebird_server
  table_name 'fdw_test'

Create a foreign table as a Firebird query:

  val VARCHAR(2048)
SERVER firebird_server
  query $$ SELECT id, val FROM fdw_test $$

Import a Firebird schema:

  LIMIT TO (sometable)
  FROM SERVER firebird_server
  INTO public;

  FROM SERVER firebird_server
  INTO public
  OPTIONS (verbose 'true', import_views 'false');

Note: someschema has no particular meaning and can be set to an arbitrary value.


  • Works with Firebird 3.x, but does not yet support all 3.x features
  • No support for Firebird ARRAY datatype
  • The result of the Firebird query is copied into memory before being processed by PostgreSQL; this could be improved by using Firebird cursors

TAP tests

Simple TAP tests are provided in the t/ directory. These require a running Firebird database to be available; provide connection details for this with the standard Firebird environment variables ISC_DATABASE, ISC_USER and ISC_PASSWORD. Additionally, the non-standard environment variable ISC_PORT can be provided to specify a non-default port number.

The tests are designed for PostgreSQL 9.5 and later, and require it to have been compiled with the --enable-tap-tests option.

Run with

make prove_installcheck

The TAP tests will create temporary tables in the Firebird database and remove them after test completion.

Development roadmap

Haha, nice one. I should point out that firebird_fdw is an entirely personal project carried out by myself in my (limited) free time for my own personal gratification. While I'm happy to accept feedback, suggestions, feature requests, bug reports and (especially) patches, please understand that development is entirely at my own discretion depending on (but not limited to) available free time and motivation.

However if you are a commercial entity and wish to have any improvements etc. carried out within a plannable period of time, this can be arranged via my employer.

Having said that, things I would like to do are:

  • improve support for Firebird 3.0 features
  • add support for missing data types
  • improve support for recent features added to the PostgreSQL FDW API.


  • (public mirror)

Blog (including release notes)


General FDW Documentation


Other FDWs


If you appreciate PostgreSQL's psql client, why not try fbsql, a psql-style client for Firebird? See: for details.