Merge Two History tables

Migration script in PostgreSQL to merge two history tables into a single one

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History tables hold the past state of an entity by saving all the values of the original entity along with a date and time range field that specify when these values were valid, I will refer to this field as “validity”. This pattern is used when you need to remember the changes an entity went through over time, it is often used with, for example, pricing data, so that you can track changes of some price as time passes.

The problem

At the company I currently work at we wanted to reduce unnecessary complexity that got introduced as our business case evolved, this required merging two tables into a single one, which also required to to merge their corresponding history tables as well. These two history tables have different periods of validity, as they’ve been changed at different times in history, so the merged history table must properly reflect changes in both tables. This is a bit difficult to explain with words so here’s a graph.

Lets say that we have a products table (A) and a pricing table (B) and the final result we are looking for after the migration is to merge these two into a single AB table.



At A1 point in time we created our product, then at B1 we created our price and assigned it to the product A, then a bit later we updated the product at A2. After migration, our history table should have show all values from A with null fields that belong to values B since it has not been created yet, and validity filed holding [A1, infinity). Then, once B is created at B1 the new history entity should have all values from A and B and validity field holding [B1, infinity) as well as update the previous validity field with [A1, B1) meaning this history entity is now only valid in between times A1 and B1 or AB1 and AB2.

The setup

Here is some demo data to explain with code what I fail to explain with words.

CREATE TABLE "price_history"
  "id"       INT     NOT NULL,
  "amount"   MONEY   NOT NULL,
  "validity" TSRANGE NOT NULL

CREATE TABLE "product_history"
  "id"       INT     NOT NULL,
  "price_id" INT     NOT NULL,
  "name"     TEXT    NOT NULL,
  "validity" TSRANGE NOT NULL

INSERT INTO "product_history"
VALUES (1, 1, 'Apple', '[2020-01-02 00:00, 2020-01-10 00:00)'),
       (1, 1, 'Green Apple', '[2020-01-10 00:00, infinity)'),
       (2, 1, 'Ornage', '[2020-01-20 00:00, 2020-01-23 00:00)'),
       (2, 1, 'Orange', '[2020-01-23 00:00, 2020-01-29 00:00)'),
       (2, 1, 'Blood Orange', '[2020-01-29 00:00, infinity)');

INSERT INTO "price_history"
VALUES (1, 20.00, '[2020-01-01 00:00, 2020-01-15 00:00)'),
       (1, 10.00, '[2020-01-15 00:00, 2020-01-25 00:00)'),
       (1, 20.00, '[2020-01-25 00:00, infinity)');

And we want to migrate the contents of these two tables into a single table that looks like this

CREATE TABLE "product_v2_history"
  "id"       INT     NOT NULL,
  "name"     TEXT    NOT NULL,
  "price"    MONEY   NOT NULL,
  "validity" TSRANGE NOT NULL

At the end of the migration we expect the content of the product_v2_history table to be like this

id       name            price       validity
1        "Apple"         "20.00"     [2020-01-02 00:00, 2020-01-10 00:00)
1        "Green Apple"   "20.00"     [2020-01-10 00:00, 2020-01-15 00:00)
1        "Green Apple"   "10.00"     [2020-01-15 00:00, 2020-01-25 00:00)
1        "Green Apple"   "20.00"     [2020-01-25 00:00, infinity)
2        "Ornage"        "10.00"     [2020-01-20 00:00, 2020-01-23 00:00)
2        "Orange"        "10.00"     [2020-01-23 00:00, 2020-01-25 00:00]
2        "Orange"        "20.00"     [2020-01-25 00:00, 2020-01-29 00:00]
2        "Blood Orange"  "20.00"     [2020-01-29 00:00, infinity]

Take a look at the validity field in the new table and how it reflects to validity fields old tables product_history and price_history.

The solution

So, you can make this work with a script that looks something like this

INSERT INTO product_v2_history
           WHEN UPPER(price_history.validity) = 'infinity'
             THEN UPPER(product_history.validity)
           WHEN UPPER(product_history.validity) = 'infinity'
             THEN UPPER(price_history.validity)
           ELSE LEAST(UPPER(product_history.validity),
FROM product_history
       FULL JOIN price_history
                 ON product_history.price_id = AND
                    product_history.validity && price_history.validity
ORDER BY product_history.validity;

The Postgres operator that helps us a bunch here is && which returns true if two ranges given intersect.

If you want to keep the name of one of the older tables and merge the data of the other history table into it, the simplest way to achieve this is to create a new history table anyway, and afterwards delete the old table and rename the new one.

When I first thought about how to do this, I imagined the solution will be much more trouble, but as I played around with test data, it turned out to be quite a simple one to do. If you want to play around with this, you can use this repo