PostgreSQL: cannot call json_to_recordset on a scalar

I have a nullable JSON column in a PostgreSQL table. Data stored in the column is an array with key/value objects which have to be converted into records at some point. It’s a job for json_to_recordset, which takes a JSON array as input and returns the records.

create table people (
	properties json

insert into people values (null), ('[{"key": "a"}, {"key": "b"}]');

select * from people;

select key
	json_to_recordset(properties) as properties(key text);

But JSON also allows ‘null’ as value. And I don’t mean it allows null values because it’s a nullable column, it actually allows the string ‘null’, which is recognized as a null JSON value.

insert into people values ('null');

The value of the properties column in the new row is not null, so now json_to_recordset will complain about being passed a scalar.

Be careful when updating a JSON column, make sure you really set it to null if you want no value.