Two years ago I wrote a post explaining how to determine relative log position in order to determine which replica was furthest ahead. This is so you can choose the "best" replica to fail over.
Thanks to the miracle of PostgreSQL rapid development (Thanks Euler!), those complicated calculations are no longer necessary if you're using PostgreSQL 9.2 or later. Particularly, this function makes your life much easier:
So, reprising my old post, we want to determine three things, and can now do it in three one-liners:
Determine the absolute position in the transaction log, so that all replicas can be compared:
SELECT pg_xlog_location_diff ( pg_current_xlog_location(), '0/0000000' );
Determine the replay lag in megabytes, to see roughly how long it'll take this replica to "catch up":
SELECT pg_xlog_location_diff ( pg_last_xlog_receive_location(), pg_last_xlog_replay_location() ) / 1000000;
Determine if a server is completely "caught up":
SELECT pg_xlog_location_diff ( pg_last_xlog_receive_location(), pg_last_xlog_replay_location() ) = 0;
See, things have gotten much simpler!
BTW, the above has just been incorporated into HandyRep, in the select_replica_furthest_ahead plugin.