Storing Semi-Structured Data in PostgreSQL

Traditionally, relational databases required all tables to have a fixed data schema, i.e. a set of attributes (such as a “user” table with attributes “firstName”, “lastName” and “email”). You could change the schema by adding and removing attributes, but the available attributes were always know at a given point in time.

For many use cases, this was acceptable. However, some applications have the need to store semi-structured data: entries where the attributes are not known ahead of time.

Since 2012, PostgreSQL allows to store semi-structured data inside tables in the JSON notation:

  "ID": "123",
  "Country": "Denmark",
  "Title": "How to store JSON in PostgreSQL"

This allows having different sets of attributes for different rows in your table while leaving your table schema constant.

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Send JSON objects via POST to Spring Boot Controllers

Creating and persisting business objects using Spring Boot is amazingly easy. Assume you create an API for simple CRUD methods and want to create an entity based on data entered by your frontend users. In the old times, you would probably populate several POST fields in a key-value style and create your business object manually from those fields.

Spring Boot offers an easier solution. As long as your internal data model equals the frontend’s data model, you can use the @Valid On @RequestBody Controller Method Arguments to automatically create the object from a JSON-serialized request and execute the necessary validation logic.

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