Christophe Pettus



Tag:   PostgreSQL   
Category:   Interviews   
Interviewed 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, your hobbies and where you are from.

I’m a native Californian. My background is kind of random: I’ve been involved in electronic music, movies, writing comics, historical recreation, flying, and a lot of strange eCommerce companies. My first “real” job was at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, so I can legitimately claim to be a rocket scientist. Through a long, complicated set of events involving my happening to own a professional video camera, I’ve ended up as CEO of PostgreSQL Experts, Inc., a consultancy supporting PostgreSQL.

Christophe Pettus

Christophe Pettus

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

My blog is thebuild.com, and my twitter account is @xof.

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

I was working for an email marketing company, and we were getting eaten alive by Oracle license fees. Entirely on my own, I started looking for database alternatives, and found PostgreSQL. I built a case for ditching Oracle, and using PostgreSQL instead: for the amount of money we would save of Oracle licenses, we could buy a lot more hardware and scale out that way. The CTO was not impressed, but I took my PostgreSQL knowledge along to my next job…

Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?

7.1!

I received a BA in Linguistics from the University of California, Los Angeles. It wasn’t directly related to computers, although I did take a lot of CS classes as well. I was already into computers before I started at University, and knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life, so I picked a major that I just found interesting.

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

I’m pretty much 100% on PostgreSQL (including some forks).

Nearly all of my PostgreSQL time is supporting my clients (I’m the CEO of a PostgreSQL consultancy).

How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?

By making sure people can get their questions answered and problems solved!

Any contributions to PostgreSQL which do not involve writing code?

I’ve just recently joined the PostgreSQL infrastructure team, and I’m excited about helping out there. I’m also increasingly involved in conference organizing.

What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?

In contrib/, pg_trgm; in the general ecosystem, PostGIS.

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

VACUUM. I’m looking forward to forthcoming new heap structures that don’t require it in its current form.

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

In PostgreSQL 12 in particular, generated columns; in recent versions of PostgreSQL, declarative partitioning.

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

Connection pooling and cluster management as an in-core feature. This is one of the main reasons that people use hosted solutions, and it would be great to have that available as a core feature.

Could you describe your PostgreSQL development toolbox?

For just PostgreSQL, psql and command-line development tools. I’m very low-tech! For application development, I use the JetBrains suite.

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

To hack on PostgreSQL, you need to understand systems-level programming and C, and those are not as common as they once were. To just write code that uses PostgreSQL, the main barrier to entry is unfamiliarity with the relational model and declarative programming. Fortunately, those are easily taught!

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

Is there such a thing as a git “best practice”?

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

I’m all over the place! Just this year, I’ll have attended or will be attending pgDay FOSDEM, Northwest Linux Fest, Nordic pgDay, pgDay Paris, PGCon in Ottawa, PostgresOpen, and PGConf.EU. (I’m missing SCALE this year, sadly.) I’m speaking at many of them!

Do you think Postgres has a high entry barrier?

No, not really. There’s a huge amount of information and support around it.

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

Write an extension, even if it is silly and trivial! It gets you used to the environment, compiling, debugging, etc.

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

Absolutely yes. PostgreSQL has solved a lot of many hard problems, and that kind of well-tested and high-performance code has a long lifetime.

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

I’d recommend it for almost any data-storage project. I use it for just about everything.

Are you reading the -hackers mailinglist? Any other list?

I read -hackers and most of the other community mailing lists, along with some related ones (PostGIS, psycopg2, etc.).

What other places do you hang out?

I’m on the Freenode community IRC channel.

Which other Open Source projects are you involved or interested in?

I’m a Django contributor, and a former member of the Django Software Foundation board of directors.

Anything else you like to add?

Thank you for doing this!