LISTEN registers the current PostgreSQL backend as a listener on the notify condition name.
Whenever the command NOTIFY name is invoked, either by this backend or another one connected to the same database, all the backends currently listening on that notify condition are notified, and each will in turn notify its connected frontend application. See the discussion of NOTIFY for more information.
A backend can be unregistered for a given notify condition with the UNLISTEN command. Also, a backend's listen registrations are automatically cleared when the backend process exits.
The method a frontend application must use to detect notify events depends on
which PostgreSQL application programming interface it
uses. With the libpq library, the application issues
LISTEN as an ordinary SQL command, and then must
periodically call the routine
PQnotifies to find out
whether any notify events have been received. Other interfaces such as
libpgtcl provide higher-level methods for handling notify events; indeed,
with libpgtcl the application programmer should not even issue
LISTEN or UNLISTEN directly. See the
documentation for the library you are using for more details.
NOTIFY contains a more extensive discussion of the use of LISTEN and NOTIFY.
name can be any string valid as a name; it need not correspond to the name of any actual table. If notifyname is enclosed in double-quotes, it need not even be a syntactically valid name, but can be any string up to 63 characters long.
In some previous releases of PostgreSQL, name had to be enclosed in double-quotes when it did not correspond to any existing table name, even if syntactically valid as a name. That is no longer required.
Configure and execute a listen/notify sequence from psql:
LISTEN virtual; NOTIFY virtual; Asynchronous NOTIFY 'virtual' from backend with pid '8448' received.