3.11 Custom Data Types — Domains

In Firebird, the concept of a user-defined data type is implemented in the form of the domain. Creating a domain does not truly create a new data type, of course. A domain provides the means to encapsulate an existing data type with a set of attributes and make this capsule available for multiple usage across the whole database. If several tables need columns defined with identical or nearly identical attributes, a domain makes sense.

Domain usage is not limited to column definitions for tables and views. Domains can be used to declare input and output parameters and variables in PSQL code.

3.11.1 Domain Attributes

A domain definition contains required and optional attributes. The data type is a required attribute. Optional attributes include:

  • a default value

  • to allow or forbid NULL

  • CHECK constraints

  • character set (for character data types and text BLOB fields)

  • collation (for character data types)

Sample domain definition

CREATE DOMAIN BOOL3 AS SMALLINT
  CHECK (VALUE IS NULL OR VALUE IN (0, 1));

See alsoExplicit Data Type Conversion for the description of differences in the data conversion mechanism when domains are specified for the TYPE OF and TYPE OF COLUMN modifiers.

3.11.2 Domain Override

While defining a column using a domain, it is possible to override some of the attributes inherited from the domain. Table 3.9 summarises the rules for domain override.

Table 3.11.2.1 Rules for Overriding Domain Attributes in Column Definition
AttributeOverride?Comments

Data type

No

 

Default value

Yes

 

Text character set

Yes

It can be also used to restore the default database values for the column

Text collation sequence

Yes

 

CHECK constraints

Yes

To add new conditions to the check, you can use the corresponding CHECK clauses in the CREATE and ALTER statements at the table level.

NOT NULL

No

Often it is better to leave domain nullable in its definition and decide whether to make it NOT NULL when using the domain to define columns.

3.11.3 Creating and Administering Domains

A domain is created with the DDL statement CREATE DOMAIN.

Short Syntax

CREATE DOMAIN name [AS] <type>
  [DEFAULT {<const> | <literal> | NULL | <context_var>}]
  [NOT NULL] [CHECK (<condition>)]
  [COLLATE <collation>]

See alsoCREATE DOMAIN in the Data Definition Language (DDL) section.

3.11.3.1 Altering a Domain

To change the attributes of a domain, use the DDL statement ALTER DOMAIN. With this statement you can:

  • rename the domain

  • change the data type

  • drop the current default value

  • set a new default value

  • drop the NOT NULL constraint

  • set the NOT NULL constraint

  • drop an existing CHECK constraint

  • add a new CHECK constraint

Short Syntax

ALTER DOMAIN name
  [{TO new_name}]
  [{SET DEFAULT { <literal> | NULL | <context_var> } |
    DROP DEFAULT}]
  [{SET | DROP} NOT NULL ]
  [{ADD [CONSTRAINT] CHECK (<dom_condition>) |
    DROP CONSTRAINT}]
  [{TYPE <datatype>}]

Example

ALTER DOMAIN STORE_GRP SET DEFAULT -1;

When changing a domain, its dependencies must be taken into account: whether there are table columns, any variables, input and/or output parameters with the type of this domain declared in the PSQL code. If you change domains in haste, without carefully checking them, your code may stop working!

☝︎
Important

When you convert data types in a domain, you must not perform any conversions that may result in data loss. Also, for example, if you convert VARCHAR to INTEGER, check carefully that all data using this domain can be successfully converted.

See alsoALTER DOMAIN in the Data Definition Language (DDL) section.

3.11.3.2 Deleting (Dropping) a Domain

The DDL statement DROP DOMAIN deletes a domain from the database, provided it is not in use by any other database objects.

Syntax

DROP DOMAIN name

Example

DROP DOMAIN Test_Domain

See alsoDROP DOMAIN in the Data Definition Language (DDL) section.