The Postgres system catalog is a voluminous tome of intriguing metadata both obvious and stupendously esoteric. When inheriting a Postgres database infrastructure from another DBA, sometimes it falls upon us to dig into the writhing confines to derive a working knowledge of its lurking denizens. The trick is to do this before they burst forth and douse us with the database’s sticky innards and it experiences a horrible untimely demise.
Every good database engine has a system catalog that describes the myriad of structures that model and preserve our data. Of course this is expected, as it would be somewhat silly for a database system not to use tables to represent its internal mechanisms. But that doesn’t mean they have to be humanly readable, or even make sense without a series of views or esoteric functions to decipher them. The information_schema standard serves a necessary role in that regard, and the Postgres implementation is extremely comprehensive.