Debezium Blog

Let’s talk about TOAST. Toast? No, TOAST!

So what’s that? TOAST (The Oversized-Attribute Storage Technique) is a mechanism in Postgres which stores large column values in multiple physical rows, circumventing the page size limit of 8 KB.


Typically, TOAST storage is transparent to the user, so you don’t really have to care about it. There’s an exception, though: if a table row has changed, any unchanged values that were stored using the TOAST mechanism are not included in the message that Debezium receives from the database, unless they are part of the table’s replica identity. Consequently, such unchanged TOAST column value will not be contained in Debezium data change events sent to Apache Kafka. In this post we’re going to discuss different strategies for dealing with this situation.

It is a common requirement for business applications to maintain some form of audit log, i.e. a persistent trail of all the changes to the application’s data. If you squint a bit, a Kafka topic with Debezium data change events is quite similar to that: sourced from database transaction logs, it describes all the changes to the records of an application. What’s missing though is some metadata: why, when and by whom was the data changed? In this post we’re going to explore how that metadata can be provided and exposed via change data capture (CDC), and how stream processing can be used to enrich the actual data change events with such metadata.

back to top