Bertrand Drouvot

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Tags:   postgresql (170)   opensource (20)   france (20)  
Category:   Interviews   
Interview conducted by: Andreas Scherbaum

PostgreSQL is the World’s most advanced Open Source Relational Database. The interview series “PostgreSQL Person of the Week” presents the people who make the project what it is today. Read all interviews here.

Please tell us about yourself, and where you are from.

I live in France (near the Luxembourg border).

I’m an IT professional for about 20 years, mainly focusing on (relational) databases. I’m an OakTable member, have been active in the Oracle community since 2012 and a regular speaker at Europe conferences. As I like to contribute and build stuff, I’m currently having a lot of interest around open source and mainly PostgreSQL (contributing to extensions, bug fixes and new features).

Bertrand Drouvot

Bertrand Drouvot

How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies?

I’m a basketball fan (mainly the French league and the Euroleague). I spend my free time watching basketball games (or TV shows), building cool stuff with Lego, learning Chess or riding my bicycle.

Any Social Media channels of yours we should be aware of?

Last book you read? Or a book you want to recommend to readers?

I’m currently reading “Gagner aux Echecs”: a book to improve in a Chess game. I don’t read novels, science fiction or things like that. My reading is more focused on sports, databases or anything related to my interest at that time.

The last book I’ve finished reading is Faster (By Cary Millsap) and I recommend it to everyone (not necessarily working in the IT industry). It is more a kind of story book, covering stories from professional and everyday life. It provides examples to illustrate the concepts of performance optimization that could be applied in your professional or personal life.

Any favorite movie, or show?

Django Unchained is my favorite movie. I really like Quentin Tarantino’s style and all his movies.

Breaking Bad is my favorite show. There are so many things happening in this show and in every single episode.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

Spending time with my family and friends, watching basketball games and/or TV shows, building Lego and relaxing.

What’s still on your bucket list?

Discover all the places I did not have the chance to go/visit yet (like Japan for example).

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

It was in 2018. I wanted to learn about an open source relational database software. I like to “build” stuff and contribute as much as I can. I thought that the ideal place for that is in open source and I choose PostgreSQL because that’s the most advanced one.

Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?

I think it was version 10 (I don’t remember the minor). That was the last version when I started to work on the pgsentinel extension (an extension to provide active session history in PostgreSQL).

Yes. I studied computer science and math. Yes, it does help (but less and less: gained experience/knowledge is largely winning at my age;-) ).

What other databases are you using? Which one is your favorite?

In very rare circumstances I’m doing/checking stuff on Oracle (mainly because I’m getting questions probably due to my past experience with it). My favorite one is PostgreSQL by far and that’s the one I focus on almost all the time.

On the “community” side of things I’m currently working on logical decoding on standby, split index and table statistics into different types of stats, patches review and wait event improvement (not in a community sharable state yet). I also started working on an extension (namely pg_directpaths) to, experiment direct path insert. It has been introduced in this blog, is still kind of POC version and hope resume working on it soon.

How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?

I contribute with bug fixes, new features and extensions. I also have in mind to contribute more on non technical activities (like helping for conferences, helping to distribute the contributor gifts,…) and just started doing so.

What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?

The one that serves my need at that time (and chances are high that an existing extension already does the job (that’s the beauty of the PostgreSQL extensibility)).

I can say that pageinspect and pg_stat_statements are my favorite ones (mainly because those are the ones I’m using the most).

What is the most annoying PostgreSQL thing you can think of? And any chance to fix it?

Nothing really annoys me but I think that the instrumentation/observability is an area to improve.

What is the feature you like most in the latest PostgreSQL version?

All the ones related to logical decoding (row filtering, column lists, conflict management) and the server level statistics (that moved to shared memory).

Adding to that, what feature/mechanism would you like to see in PostgreSQL? And why?

I think it needs to have better instrumentation/observability to avoid having to guess too much/at all when an issue occurs. The DBA should be able to rely on metrics and facts so that a scientific approach could be used all the time. I think the big gap with commercial engines is now around instrumentation (not on development features anymore), that’s why I think this is where the focus should be.

Could you describe your PostgreSQL development toolbox?

Ubuntu VM, VS code, gdb and a bunch of scripts (to set my environment, choose the compiler…)

Which skills are a must have for a PostgreSQL developer/user?

Being keen to learn. Starting from there, one could get all the help he needs from the community.

Do you use any git best practices, which makes working with PostgreSQL easier?

I think that setting up the PostgreSQL Continuous Integration on a personal repository as described here is a good practice. It allows to test the patches efficiently before submitting them to the community.

Which PostgreSQL conferences do you visit? Do you submit talks?

I went to PGConf.EU 2019 and 2022. I’ve been a speaker at PGConf.NYC 2022 and hope to do/attend more of them (talks and conferences).

Do you think PostgreSQL has a high entry barrier?

No, thanks to the online documentation and materials and last but not least thanks to the community.

What is your advice for people who want to start PostgreSQL developing - as in, contributing to the project. Where and how should they start?

My advice would be to subscribe to the -hackers mailing list and review patches.

A good idea could be to read this blog first.

Do you think PostgreSQL will be here for many years in the future?

Yes and without any doubt. Just need to look at how fast its ecosystem is growing and how many new “engines” are using PostgreSQL’s native query layer.

Would you recommend PostgreSQL for business, or for side projects?

For both! There are already a lot of “successful”/well established companies running their business on PostgreSQL.

Anything else you like to add?

Thanks for the interview. The PostgreSQL community is awesome and the work you are doing with those interviews is another proof of it.