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As part of the countdown to Postgres Conference 2024, learn more about the engaging content and our speakers for this year in our Speaker Spotlight Series.

Tracy Jenkins is a Database Solutions Architect with Amazon Web Services. She enjoys working with databases and helping customers architect performant, highly available, and scalable solutions while making recommendations on reliability, cost, and security.

Tracy Jenkins will present PostgreSQL Architecture Considerations for Application Developers. Read what Tracy has to say about Postgres and why to attend their session:

Why should attendees come to your talk at Postgres Conference 2024? What would you like for them to take away from your session?

It's a session to present and discuss beginning your journey into PostgreSQL and discussing some of the database-specific terms.

What is your favorite aspect of Postgres Conference?
The community getting together to network and help others working with the engine.

What advice would you have for a Computer Science graduate or entry-level developer who is interested in learning and engaging with Postgres and other open source technologies?
If you have any questions, ask.

How do you see the use of open source technologies evolving over the next five years?
I see its use increasing more and more because for PostgreSQL to be an open source engine, it's very powerful and the world is noticing.

Check out the full schedule for PostgresConf US 2024. Learn more about our conference here and buy your tickets soon!

 

Debra Cerda     April 11, 2024     postgres speaker spotlight architecture

 

As part of the countdown to Postgres Conference 2024, learn more about the engaging content and our speakers for this year in our Speaker Spotlight Series.

Relevant Logic President/CEO Guyren Howe is a web developer, trainer, database expert, technical writer, and more specializing in PostgreSQL, Flutter, and Rails. Guyren will present “Postgres’s Type System” at Postgres Conference 2024. Read what Guyren has to say about Postgres and why to attend his session:

Why should attendees come to your talk at Postgres Conference 2024?

What would you like for them to take away from your session? Learn the important details of Postgres's type system: the built-in types, extension types, domains, arrays and custom types.

What is your favorite aspect of Postgres Conference?

My talk :)

What advice would you have for a Computer Science graduate or entry level developer who are interested in learning and engaging with Postgres and other open source technologies?

Follow the pgsql-general list. Learn relational theory. Don't listen to the database haters.

How do you see the use of open source technologies evolving over the next five years?

I foresee an open source boom as AI technologies can work with open source much better than closed.

 

Check out the full schedule for PostgresConf US 2024. Learn more about our conference here and buy your tickets soon!

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As part of the countdown to Postgres Conference 2024 learn more about the engaging content and our speakers for this year in our Speaker Spotlight Series.

NEXTGRES founder Jonah Harris is a developer with expertise in database internals, high-performance systems, and near-real-time machine learning optimizations. Recognized for contributions to Oracle Database and PostgreSQL, with leadership roles at MariaDB, The Meet Group, and EnterpriseDB.

Jonah Harris will present The Future of MySQL is Postgres.  Read what Jonah has to say about Postgres and why to attend their session:

Why should attendees come to your talk at Postgres Conference 2024?  What would you like for them to take away from your session?

Attendees will leave this session understanding how PostgreSQL offers superior performance, reliability, and a richer set of features for modern application development over MySQL, and how this extension simplifies and accelerates the migration process, ensuring transparent compatibility. 

What is your favorite aspect of Postgres Conference?

My favorite aspect of Postgres conferences is the collaborative spirit, where developers, administrators, and enthusiasts come together to share their knowledge and solve real-world challenges.

What advice would you have for a Computer Science graduate or entry level developer who are interested in learning and engaging with Postgres and other open source technologies?

I advise diving into hands-on projects and contributing to the OSS communities with an open mind; this offers invaluable experience and broad networking opportunities within open source communities, specifically PostgreSQL.

How do you see the use of open source technologies evolving over the next five years?

I see open source technologies becoming even more integral to innovation, driving collaboration and accessibility in emerging fields as well as traditional industries.

What considerations should be taken for the adoption and use of Postgres and related open source technologies? 

I always consider matching a technology's strengths to a project's needs. Whether it's Postgres or another OSS technology, evaluate it for its full capabilities and best fit first. Once those capabilities and fit are evaluated, assess the organization's ability to manage it.

Check out the full schedule for PostgresConf US 2024. Learn more about our conference here and buy your tickets soon!

Since at least 2021 there has been a disagreement between Postgres related non-profit organizations. On one side are two affiliate non-profits for Postgresql.org; on the other is a relatively unknown non-profit out of Spain. Lines have been drawn, feet have dug in, and a lot of unproductive discourse has occurred. This has culminated in legal action, bad blood, and some poor decisions. 

As one of the Founders of United States PostgreSQL, a former Director of Software in the Public Interest (one of the NPOs behind Postgresql.org), a former committer (web), former major contributor, President of the oldest PostgreSQL company still independent in North America, and the Founder of Postgres Conference (in the U.S.), I thought I would offer a knowledgeable perspective. 


I have had long discussions with one of the primary people within the Fundacion PostgreSQL  (Alvaro) and his heart is in the best interest of the community, even if Postgresql.org, PGEU and PGCAC do not agree. You can see this demonstrated within Fundacion’s trademark policy. That said, Fundacion PostgreSQL did go about their actions in an incorrect way. There should have been an open discussion and they should have provided PGCAC the opportunity to resolve the trademark issues on their own. It is also true that while I believe PGEU and PGCAC believe they are protecting the community, if they were interested in positive community growth and collaboration, they would not be taking the approach they currently are. The current path has far reaching implications that PGEU and PGCAC do not see.


Further, the PostgreSQL Community Association of Canada and Fundacion PostgreSQL have resorted to terrible language in representing what is actually going on within the disagreement. Using language such as, “An attack on our community” or “PostgreSQL attacks the community” is immature at best and at worst an intentional decision to use good faith and mindshare against what is largely just a disagreement that could be solved with an active mediator and a few phone calls. If this disagreement is about the best interest of the PostgreSQL community, shouldn’t that involve discourse, honesty, transparency, and kind communication?

Some facts:


  1. The first appearance of a PostgreSQL trademark outside of Canada wasn’t until 2018.
  2. The trademark PostgreSQL in the European Union was not registered until 2018.
  3. The trademark in Canada was registered in 2003 (filed in 1999).
  4. The trademark in Canada does not accurately represent PostgreSQL as the services it was registered under are:

(1) Internet consulting.

(2) Internet presence provider- DNS hosting.

(3) Commercial internet support for database applications development and implementation including the ability to host internet domains (as an internet service provider) and provide a wide range of web site development, programming and information technology services, namely computer software architecture, design and/or development services.

(4) Computer hardware sales and service.

The solution

The solution to the whole problem is simple; a single contract that states:

  1. That the term PostgreSQL is trademarked by the PostgreSQL Community Association of Canada
  2. That the Fundacion PostgreSQL relinquishes all property and rights to the mark PostgreSQL held in Spain and assigns them to the PostgreSQL Community Association of Canada
  3. The PostgreSQL Community Association of Canada forgoes any punitive damages or secondary costs
  4. That the Fundacion PostgreSQL forgoes any punitive damages or secondary costs

The contract should not contain language in regards to future potential filings that involve but are not exclusive to the word Postgres or PostgreSQL. There are already a number of filings worldwide that use Postgres or PostgreSQL as part of an overall mark inclusively such as Postgres Pro, Postgres Plus, Postgres Always On and Postgres Enterprise Manager, all of which are not owned but PGCAC or PGEU.

Why forgo punitive damages or secondary costs

Because it is the right thing to do. Otherwise this whole affair is going to end up costing one entity or another way too much money for no purpose. There is no clear distinction on who would legally win, and in either situation the main sufferers are the PostgreSQL community. Let’s have the parties show an act of kindness for the betterment of everyone involved.



Joshua D. Drake     September 05, 2023

As part of the countdown to PostgresConf Silicon Valley 2023, learn more about the engaging content and our speakers for this year in our Speaker Spotlight Series.

Meet Tatiana Krupenya, CEO of DBeaver. DBeaver provides a GUI interface that "connects to all data sources and stores, enables special extensions for big data databases, and includes supplemental features like a data viewer, an editor, mock data generator, metadata browsing and visual query builders, enabling users to dynamically access all of their databases while working within one environment."

Tatiana will present "Let robots help with queries" at this year's conference. Read more about Tatiana below:

 

Why Postgres? Tell us about your involvement with the greater Postgres community. 

DBeaver is one of the most popular UI tools for Postgres administration and data management. We support not only PostgreSQL itself but all popular forks and Postgres-based data sources, like Greenplum, Yugabyte, Redshift and others.

Why should attendees come to your talk at Postgres Conference Silicon Valley 2023? What would you like for them to take away from your session?

We have gotten used to thinking that working with databases is for database administrators and developers. However, thanks to modern technologies, people from other professional areas can also do this. It's data engineers, data architects, financial analysts, machine learning specialists, and others. The only thing that we need is to provide them with a safe and convenient infrastructure. In my talk, I would like to show how OpenAI can help with that.

What is your favorite aspect of Postgres Conference?

The best thing is the atmosphere. You can meet interesting people, learn about cutting-edge technologies, find new partners, and all of these in a friendly and positive environment.

Check out the full schedule for Postgres Conference Silicon Valley 2023. Walk-up registration is still available. Learn more here!

Debra Cerda     April 20, 2023     speaker spotlight

As part of the countdown to PostgresConf Silicon Valley 2023, learn more about the engaging content and our speakers for this year in our Speaker Spotlight Series.

Meet Dave Stokes, Technology Evangelist for Percona. Dave Stokes is the author of MySQL & JSON - A Practical Programming Guide. He resides in Texas with the mandated pickup truck, hound dog, and guitars.

Read what Dave has to say about Postgres and why to attend his sessions which include "MERGE() - A Quick Introduction" and "PostgreSQL High Availability: The Considerations and the Candidates."

 

Why Postgres? Tell us about your involvement with the greater Postgres community. (How long have you been involved? How have you contributed? How else would you want to contribute?)

I have been mainly involved in the MySQL Community for a long time but am now exploring PostgreSQL. I have started a series on PostgreSQL for MySQL DBAs that is very popular

What new features of PostgreSQL 15 are you most excited about?

Merge()!

What features do you believe should be developed/improved and released in the next major upgrade?

JSON_TABLE()!! Please, please, pretty please!!

Why should attendees come to your talk at Postgres Conference Silicon Valley 2023? What would you like for them to take away from your session?

From the Merge() talk, I hope they will go away understanding how transaction log processing works. For the HA talk, I do not expect them to walk away as they will be so filled with brain energy that they sort of levitate away!

What is your favorite aspect of Postgres Conference?

The people.

What advice would you have for a Computer Science graduate or entry level developer who are interested in learning and engaging with Postgres and other open source technologies?

Open source !- free. It provides a flexibility to innovate.

What's your top suggested readings for 2023?

Anything by Tim Dorsey.

What do you believe are the major achievements of open source and Postgres over the last decade?

Open-source software has proven that good code comes from more than just semi-benevolent corporations. And PostgreSQL has proven the power of the mailing list!

Check out the full schedule for Postgres Conference Silicon Valley 2023, and buy your tickets soon!

Debra Cerda     April 17, 2023

As part of the countdown to PostgresConf Silicon Valley 2023, learn more about the engaging content and our speakers for this year in our Speaker Spotlight Series.

Meet Ry Walker, Founder and CEO of CoreDB, which is currently in private beta. CoreDB "provides provides a fully-managed, secure, scalable Postgres cluster with access to an ecosystem of extensions, expanding the capabilities of a database." Ry is a long-time coder, founder investor and champion of open source. He enjoys nature, science, art, tennis, platform tennis, golf, basketball, fishing and indie game development.

Read what he has to say about Postgres and why to attend his keynote session "The Growing Postgres Ecosystem" on Thursday, April 20th:

 

Why Postgres? Tell us about your involvement with the greater Postgres community.

I've been a user since the beginning, recently started CoreDB which will provide a managed Postgres SaaS.

Why should attendees come to your talk at PostgresConf US 2023?  What would you like for them to take away from your session?

Learn about exciting Postgres extensions and what CoreDB is planning to contribute to the ecosystem

What is your favorite aspect of Postgres Conference?

I'm a first timer :)

What advice would you have for a Computer Science graduate or entry level developer who are interested in learning and engaging with Postgres?

Blog about your journey.

 What's your top suggested readings for 2023?  Books, blogs -- from fiction to non-fiction to technical, anything you enjoy?

The Hobbit :)

What do you believe are the major achievements of open source and Postgres over the last decade?

The rise of open source and open core companies is exciting!

 

Check out the full schedule for Postgres Conference Silicon Valley 2023, and buy your tickets soon!

Debra Cerda     April 12, 2023     postgres speaker spotlight

 

As part of the countdown to PostgresConf Silicon Valley 2023, learn more about the engaging content and our speakers for this year in our Speaker Spotlight Series.

Bryn Llewellyn is a Technical Product Manager at Yugabyte, Inc., which offers an open source, cloud native distributed SQL database that looks like PostgreSQL to the developer. Bryn’s speciality is SQL and stored procedures in the context of distributed SQL.

Bryn has worked in the software field for more than forty years. He started working with SQL when he joined Oracle UK in 1990. He relocated to Oracle HQ (Redwood Shores, CA) in 1996 and his last role, before leaving, was as the Product Manager for PL/SQL. He left Oracle in April 2019 to join YugaByte, Inc.

Bryn started off doing image analysis and pattern recognition at Oxford University (programming in FORTRAN) and then worked in Oslo, first at the Norwegian Computing Center and then in a startup. In Norway, Bryn programmed in Simula—recognized as the first object-oriented programming language and as the inspiration for C++.

Bryn will be presenting a mini-tutorial on Friday, April 21st at 9:30am Pacific Time on "How to configure a PostgreSQL cluster for multitenancy." Read what he has to say about Postgres and why to attend his session:

 

Why Postgres? Tell us about your involvement with the greater Postgres community.

I work for Yugabyte, Inc. (Learn more about Bryn's background). YugabyteDB uses the PostgreSQL query processing code “as is” on top of its own open source Spanner-like distributed storage system. I started at Yugabyte four years ago. And that’s when I first started to learn and to use PostgreSQL. My job is to document YugabyteDB’s SQL and PL/pgSQL functionality. This, by construction, has the same syntax and semantics as does vanilla PostgreSQL. I therefore ask lots of questions on the “pgsql-general” mailing list and, very occasionally, discover bugs in vanilla PostgreSQL.

What new features of PostgreSQL 15 are you most excited about?

Actually it’s a feature that’s new in Version 14: the new syntax for “language sql” functions that lets you define the body without making it a text literal so that it’s parsed at “create” time—allowing proper dependency tracking (and other benefits).

What features do you believe should be developed/improved and released in the next major upgrade?

I would dearly like to see new functionality for "language plpgsql" subprograms that’s comparable to PL/SQL’s “package” construct (in Oracle Database).

Why should attendees come to your talk at PostgresConf US 2023?  What would you like for them to take away from your session?

I describe a practical solution to a genuine problem. And I make all the code easily available for download from the GitHub repo.

What is your favorite aspect of Postgres Conference?

Meeting real PostgreSQL practitioners and talking with them about their real-world use cases.

What advice would you have for a Computer Science graduate or entry level developer who are interested in learning and engaging with Postgres?

Get a job where you use the technology on a daily basis.

 What's your top suggested readings for 2023?  Books, blogs -- from fiction to non-fiction to technical, anything you enjoy?

Our Yugabyte blog!

What do you believe are the major achievements of open source and Postgres over the last decade?

How YugabyteDB has made the familiar PostgreSQL functionality available as an open source, cloud native, massively scalable and fault tolerant, distributed SQL database system. (Of course, I would say this!) 

Anything else to add?

I’m excited to be attending (again), and speaking (again) at the Postgres Conference Silicon Valley.

 

Check out the full schedule for Postgres Conference Silicon Valley 2023, and buy your tickets soon!

Debra Cerda     April 11, 2023     postgres speaker spotlight
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Are you interested in learning about the latest developments and best practices in PostgreSQL? 

Then you won’t want to miss next week’s Postgres Conference Silicon Valley 2023! This annual conference brings together experts and enthusiasts from around the world to share their knowledge and experiences with the PostgreSQL community.

This year's conference will be held in San Jose April 20 and 21, 2023, at the San Jose Hilton, and promises to be another exciting and informative event. Attendees can expect a wide range of presentations, mini-tutorials, and networking opportunities, covering Postgres and open source related topics such as high availability, migration, security, machine learning, AI and much more.

Whether you're a seasoned PostgreSQL developer, a database administrator, or just curious about this powerful open-source database system, Postgres Conference Silicon Valley is the perfect place to learn and connect with like-minded individuals.

So why should you attend? For starters, you'll get to hear from some of the brightest minds in the PostgreSQL community. You'll learn about the latest trends and technologies, and gain valuable insights from real-world use cases and case studies. Check out our full program.

In addition, you'll have the opportunity to network with other PostgreSQL professionals and enthusiasts, and build relationships that can benefit you and your organization long after the conference is over. 

Be sure to stop by the exhibit area and chat with our incredible sponsors and partners, including our Conference sponsors CoreDB and Amazon Web Services (AWS) as well as our Cloud sponsor Google Cloud and Distributed SQL Summit (DSS) sponsor YugabyteDB. Our Conference Partners for this year include Airbyte, Command Prompt, Inc., DBeaver, Fujitsu, Neon, Nutanix, Percona, pgEdge and Community Partner OnGres.

Postgres Conference Silicon Valley is also a great chance to explore the local area, with plenty of opportunities for sightseeing, dining, and entertainment. A Welcome Reception will be hosted by YugabyteDB on Thursday evening for all registered attendees. 

So if you're looking to expand your knowledge of PostgreSQL, connect with other experts and enthusiasts, and have some fun along the way, be sure to register for Postgres Conference Silicon Valley today. We can't wait to see you there!

 

Debra Cerda     April 10, 2023

The future of community in light of Babelfish

(adapted from PGConf NYC 2021 Keynote)

 

Ryan Booz

Director, Developer Advocacy

Timescale

Twitter: @ryanbooz

Email: ryan@timescale.com



On December 1, 2020, at its annual re:Invent conference, Amazon AWS announced Babelfish -  an open source PostgreSQL translation layer that allows SQL Server applications to work natively, and transparently, with PostgreSQL. To be honest, as someone that's spent a significant part of my career using both SQL Server and PostgreSQL, this wasn't actually a very “exciting” development.

 

I'm not sure that most people in either community really gave it that much notice a year ago. In fact, my first thought was that Babelfish is just an oversized Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) framework that wasn't tied to any specific development language. While these tools have proven to be hugely useful to many developers, nearly every DBA has first-hand war stories that demonstrate the challenge that automated query generation can impose on a complex system. Frankly, the thought terrifies me a bit.

 

Until recently, however, all we knew about Babelfish was based on Amazon published content. But in October 2021, Babelfish was finally released for public access and preview at https://babelfishpg.org/

 

Not long after the release was announced, I had the opportunity to participate in a video call with some members of the European PostgreSQL community for a first look at Babelfish in real life. It was interesting, and kind of exciting to see what worked and what didn't. However, I didn't leave that call any less concerned about the struggles my SQL Server friends will have as their management teams mandate switching to PostgreSQL using Babelfish. It also got me thinking - why SQL Server? 

 

I decided to look at DB-engines.com to see if the engagement metrics that they track would shed any light on it. Although the website doesn't disclose the specific method for determining database engine rank, we know that social engagement and search engine trends play a role in the rankings. 

 

When I zoomed in on the four "major" relational database engines, utilizing the last 9 years of data, two things jumped out at me.

 

  1. Only PostgreSQL has seen consistent increases in popularity and engagement over the 9 years of tracking
  2. While the three other engines have had some steady decline over the same period, SQL Server seems to have the biggest drop off compared to Oracle and MySQL

While I can posit many reasons why Amazon AWS chose to go directly after SQL Server for this transparent compatibility tool, the reasons to use PostgreSQL as the solution to the problem is obvious to the PostgreSQL community. PostgreSQL:

  • is the fastest growing, relational database engine on the planet
  • has a proven foundation
  • is easy to enhance through extensibility

 

Regardless of how we feel about this new turn of events or the potential onslaught of new support needs by users of SQL Server, there's not much we can do about it. The proverbial cat is already out of the bag.

 

Whether the necessary patches are included in the core PostgreSQL code or not, AWS Aurora, at least, will still offer this functionality as a service. I believe this means that over the next 2-4 years, the community will grow from a base of users that have a lot of database experience but have little footing for how to approach a similar, but different, database. And regardless of how we feel about the new demands, this will put on this community, it's a group of people that still want to do their job well and contribute back to the community.

Why do I care?

So, why do I care? Well, if you were to put my 20+ years of database experience into a word cloud of sorts, SQL Server would occupy the largest portion of space. For nearly 15 of the last 21 years, I was primarily a Microsoft data platform user. And while PostgreSQL has occupied the second largest (and longest) portion of my database landscape, I really came of age as a database professional within the SQL Server community. In fact, since coming back into the PostgreSQL community almost 4 years ago, I've continued to look for ways to foster a community and learning modeled after what I knew and experienced through SQL Server and the Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS) community. And I can say, without a doubt, that I'm not the only one looking for the same thing.

 

Let me ask you something then.

 

When was the last time you had to join a new community?

 

Is the first thing that comes to mind a technical community (data, programming language, visualization tools, etc.) or something else? Whatever community that was, how did you feel after first stepping through the proverbial door?

 

Did you have a crowd of people ready to cheer you on, eager to see you succeed, and ready to support you?

Or, did you feel like an outsider looking in, trying to figure out how to find the right help, from the right people? Did you feel like everyone else always knew how to connect with the people around you but you struggled to find comradery and resources?

Depending on where you fall, what could have made it better for others or for yourself?

 

Let's bring this same thought experiment a little closer to home. What about the PostgreSQL community? What was your "onboarding" experience like and how does that compare to some of the newest members you've met recently?

 

It just so happens that we have some feedback from the larger community based on The State of PostgreSQL survey Timescale orchestrated this past April. There were 500 respondents that ranged in experience levels from novice, newly joined developers, to users with 20+ years of experience. Of those 500 respondents, 49.5% have used PostgreSQL for 5 years or less, and 50.5% had PostgreSQL for 6 years or more.

It would make sense, then, that about 50% of the survey participants felt like it was a bit difficult to use PostgreSQL and get involved with the community.

And yet, the other 50% of participants seem to have a very different experience with PostgreSQL the longer they stay connected.

The real goal, then, is to determine ways to improve the user experience within the PostgreSQL community earlier in the cycle, rather than hoping folks stick around for more than 5 years so that they can begin to have a more positive outlook on the community at large.

 

As a Developer Advocate at Timescale, one of my primary responsibilities is to engage with the PostgreSQL community so that we can figure out how to tackle these issues head-on. I'm excited to contribute to the efforts, learning better methods to teach people how to use this technology well and help them be successful.

 

And, as a former SQL Server professional and community member, I want to prepare for what I believe will be a growing number of database professionals joining the Slack channel, Twitter conversations, and conferences trying to improve their craft and give back to the community.

 

To do this, we have at least two options in the months and years ahead.

 

The first option is to take sides. Unfortunately, this happens all too often in technical communities. Whether it's a database engine or the newest development language, this approach is an option. "We're better! You're not!"

Or… we could choose to just sit around the table, share a meal, and learn from one another about how we can build a better, shared community based on the best parts of what each community offers.


Quite honestly, we could ensure that we're treating the community more like our beloved namesake - Slonik the elephant.

It turns out that Elephants are close-knit communities. They care for each other, they actively accept orphans and elephants that are in need, and they're generational - passing down knowledge and community expectations from one generation to the next. Not a bad example to follow, right?

 

Five initial options for building a better PostgreSQL community

Let me present you with 5 quick, high-level thoughts on ideas we could reuse from the SQL Server community that might begin the process of improving participation and engagement.

(1) Lead with empathy and curiosity

What does it mean to lead with empathy and curiosity? When the posture of the community starts with empathy, it means that we remember what it was like to be new to a community ourselves. When we start conversations from a place of curiosity, we avoid choosing sides and instead join new users where they are. Here are a few things to keep in mind in regards to the SQL Server community that might start to show up in greater numbers soon, although I think these are good things to remember regardless of the user.

 

Expect confusion from users that already know SQL. Oftentimes these users honestly don't know that the dialect of SQL they've been using (T-SQL in this case) isn't a standard. They know concepts but not direct comparisons to the SQL standard or pl/pgsql.

 

Remember that you were a newbie once. Remember when I asked you to think of the last new community you joined? ;-) 

 

Assume positive intent and that they have tried to search out a solution first. Again, many users coming from the SQL Server community have a good network of people and resources they've grown accustomed to (we'll touch on that next!). But that community has also fostered good habits for finding solutions and asking better questions. Assume the best!

 

Prepare resources to meet their specific needs. This doesn't mean that we craft all documentation, blogs, and help forums for a specific user base. But, if we know many people will be joining this community with the same understanding of a feature or topic, we can provide them a better foundation for transferring their knowledge into PostgreSQL. It would reduce support overall and foster better community involvement.

 

Let me give you one really simple example from my own experience (and that of many SQL Server users that try PostgreSQL for the first time).

 

It is a common practice in nearly every T-SQL script I've written, seen, or used to create and use variables and control logic directly in the flow of a script. Because all SQL is executed by default as T-SQL, there is no need for code blocks to do data-specific logic. This really simple T-SQL example is incredibly common in the day-to-day workflow of a SQL Server DBA or developer.

In PostgreSQL, however, I can't do this in the midst of my migration scripts or maintenance tasks directly. This was a constant source of frustration for me during the release of my first feature at a new company that was using PostgreSQL (but had very few developers that understood databases). I knew what I wanted to do, but I couldn't get any IDE or migration script to do what I wanted.

Eventually, I found a post that talked about anonymous functions within a SQL script for ad hoc processing. Although I didn't like the added complexity, I could finally write my migrations correctly.

Having proactive examples in the documentation that acknowledge this difference could be a game-changer for developer success.

(2) Lower the bar for entry-level #pghelp

More than 10 years ago, someone in the SQL Server community had the idea of using #sqlhelp  Twitter hashtag to provide help. At the time, the size limit for a tweet was 140 characters so they understood it could only provide short, really succinct triage-like help. In some ways, I think this limitation has actually helped the community learn how to ask better questions that will draw valuable answers. This is evidenced by two things in my opinion. 

 

First, not every question gets an answer. It's a community-led initiative and so the quality of the question and respect for the "free" nature of the help influence overall engagement. And second, the SQL Server community actively protects the use of this hashtag. That's not always taken kindly by outsiders, and I'm not even sure how much I agree that a community can "own" a hashtag, but it produces valuable community around a specific technology that has proven to be helpful for thousands of users over the years. 

Like the PostgreSQL community, SQL Server users also have a community Slack channel that is active and more long-form. But today, more than 10 years after the community started using it, #sqlhelp is an active channel of connecting with the larger community to give and receive timely help.

 

Could we do something similar with a #pghelp hashtag?

 

(3) Support new members by cultivating more leaders

As the PostgreSQL community grows, we can only support users if we build a growing group of leaders. A few of the leaders in the SQL Server community realized this same need over a decade ago and proactively sought ways to build new leaders, content creators, and community advocates. One successful example of this is an initiative called "T-SQL Tuesday", a worldwide monthly "blog fest".

 

The idea is simple. Each month, someone volunteers to be the host, they announce the topic at least a week in advance, and then anyone from around the world can contribute to the conversation by publishing a blog on that topic. Some of the topics are technical (replication, HA, query tuning success), while some are more soft-skill-focused (best/worst SQL interview experience, how to avoid burnout in the SQL field).

 

As I said, it was specifically started as an initiative to get more people in the community to contribute to the conversation. Of almost any initiative that this community has undertaken in the last 10-15 years, T-SQL Tuesday has done more than anything else to cultivate new community leaders, alter careers, and bring collaboration across the globe. The most intriguing part of this for me is that it's free to run and participate in, and Microsoft has had nothing to do with it. It is completely community-led. 

 

Starting in April 2022, a few PostgreSQL community members are going to start "PSQL Phriday", a monthly community blogging initiative. To learn more about it, the monthly topics, and how you can participate, watch the blogging feeds at planet.postgresql.org and monitor the #psqlphriday on Twitter. I'm excited to see this get started and can't wait to learn from many others in the community!

 

(4) Seek leaders proactively

As new members join the community and it grows, many of them will come with a desire to contribute in some way. Some of that has happened in meaningful ways around tooling that have dramatically improved the day-to-day tasks of every SQL Server DBA.

 

One of the best examples of this in recent years has been the DBATools project. This is a PowerShell toolkit of hundreds of commands that can help backup a database or migrate an entire cluster of servers, no UI necessary. It is heavily supported by the community and they're always looking for opportunities to grow, learn, and contribute. Finding these developer-focused initiatives could be a great way to enlist help and add additional support resources as the community grows.

 

(5) Develop Consistent messaging around community

Lastly, I think it would be helpful to consider ways to consistently articulate the best methods and practices for accessing help within the PostgreSQL community. Although the Community page on the PostgreSQL.org website does list many avenues for getting help, it still requires a fair amount of cognitive load to figure out which avenue is best suited for a given need.

 

  • When do I use the email lists? What if I don't want to subscribe long-term?
  • If I join the Slack channel, how do I best ask for help? Can I mention specific people to try and get help? Create new rooms?
  • Why would I use IRC or Discord over Slack?
  • Is there a #pghelp Twitter hashtag, and if so, what kind of questions are best asked there?

 

As a new user in the PostgreSQL community, I wanted this kind of guidance because I didn't want to overuse a resource or direct questions to the wrong group of people. If we had more consistent guidance on how to interface with the community across the plethora of channels, then other leaders within the PostgreSQL community could give the same consistent message. I appreciate how leaders like Brent Ozar, a leader in the SQL Server community, doesn't feel obligated to answer every question thrown their way. They have clear instructions on their blog that describe the best ways for someone to actually get effective help and they often direct them there. "Hey, thanks for reaching out. That sounds like a great question for #sqlhelp. Check out this link for instructions on how to use it!"

 

When people feel heard, they're more likely to stay connected and involved. Even if the answer often points them to good documentation of how to get help, they're still acknowledged and included.

Wrap up

I'd like to leave you with a small twist on a common adage.

 

"You can't pick your family… but you can influence who becomes your friends." 

 

As this community grows, are we prepared to provide some new ways of engaging with them? These specific ideas might not all fit within the PostgreSQL community, but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about ways we can better incorporate the skills and talents of the community we already have to prepare for the future. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@ryanbooz), through email (ryan@timescale.com), or in our Timescale Slack channel (https://slack.timescale.com).


One last thing! The 2022 State of PostgreSQL survey will open later this spring. Take some time to review the results from last year, and then sign up at the bottom of the report to be notified when the new survey is ready. The more feedback we receive, the better we can understand our community, what's working well, and what can be improved in the years to come.

 

PostgresConf Organizers     March 28, 2022

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