PostgreSQL offers several options for displaying and querying tree like structures.
In Using Recursive Common Table Expressions (CTE) to represent tree structures
we demonstrated how to use common table expressions to display a tree like structure. Common Table Expressions required PostgreSQL 8.4 and above but was fairly ANSI standards compliant. In addition to that
approach you have the option of using recursive functions. There is yet another common approach for this which is specific to PostgreSQL. This is using the ltree contrib datatype
that has been supported for sometime in PostgreSQL. For one of our recent projects, we chose ltree over the other approaches because the performance is much better when you need to do ad-hoc queries over the tree since it can take advantage of btree and gist indexes
and also has built-in tree query expressions that make ad-hoc queries simpler to do; similar in concept to the tsearch query syntax for querying text.
In this article we'll demonstrate how to use ltree and along the way also show the PostgreSQL 9.0 new features conditional triggers and ordered aggregates.