Florent Jardin

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Tags:   postgresql (175)   dalibo (9)   dba (9)   france (21)   postgres-meetup (5)   migration (5)   education (7)   go (2)   music (11)  
Category:   interviews   
Written by: Andreas Scherbaum

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

I am from Lille, the capital of Flanders in the north of France, and I have been living here since birth.

During my studies in general computer science, I had the opportunity to teach SQL and Oracle database administration to undergraduate students.

As soon as I obtained my degree, I embraced the role of consultant in a geographical area ranging from Brussels to Paris, and my car’s odometer remembers it well!

With consulting assignments and ticket resolution tasks, I gradually gained experience with Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, and PostgreSQL before the age of 30.

Today, I am a consultant at Dalibo, where I contribute to the promotion of PostgreSQL by assisting clients in their transitions from other databases to PostgreSQL.

Florent Jardin (Picture by Guillaume Lelarge)

Florent Jardin (Picture by Guillaume Lelarge)

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

In no particular order, I play online video games and other solo adventure content related to science fiction or medieval fantasy universes.

I play fiddle by ear, following the oral tradition, with a folk violin group in my region. We perform two or three concerts each year with our repertoire of traditional music.

My favorite music category remains rock and all the metal variations from my adolescence. Quite recently, I started taking drum lessons and performed on stage at the end-of-year recital with my music school.

I am also a young dad, and I have to reinvent my free time to spend more quality moments with my son and my wife.

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

I publish blog posts about PostgreSQL and the discoveries I make in my daily work that I want to share.

Most of the posts are written in French, although in recent years, I have been consistently providing translations to make them accessible to the community.

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

Since the release of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune in theaters, I have immersed myself in the cycle of Frank Herbert’s novels. Even though I don’t read more than ten pages per week, I am soon reaching the end of the third book!

With each new chapter, I find myself drawing parallels with the universe of the Incal and the Metabaron, creations of Alejandro Jodorowsky, an author who greatly influenced my youth.

What is the best advice you ever got?

“You have to make mistakes to learn.”

I do not remember exactly who could tell me or in what form it was pronounced, but I made my mantra, my leitmotiv to progress.

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

During my first job in 2014, I was faced with a homemade PHP application for managing recurring tasks for a support team.

Unsurprisingly, the Oracle database serving the data was not tied to any license, so I set out to rewrite the product to connect it to a PostgreSQL database.

We had very little expertise in this technology, so I learned to write my first PL/pgSQL procedures and deepen my understanding of maintenance tasks.

My work highlighted our need to improve our skills, and my team and I took a few days of training as a result!

Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?

It was version 9.3, and declarative partitioning didn’t exist yet.

I remember at that time I made the decision not to implement inheritance-based partitioning because I found it far too complicated compared to what Oracle offered back then.

Are you still using other databases?

Since I started working at Dalibo in 2019, the only databases I encounter are intended to be replaced by PostgreSQL!

I increasingly oppose the commercial model of proprietary software, and in the world of open-source software, there is no better solution than PostgreSQL :-)

Lately, my main area of study has been finding an alternative to Ora2Pg to extend the list of open-source tools dedicated to migration.

I’ve had the opportunity to work on the db_migrator and ora_migrator extensions with Laurenz Albe. In my opinion, this project has not yet found its audience, but it is really promising!

Right now, at Dalibo and with my colleague Étienne Bersac, we are developing a new tool (called transqlate) to automatically convert SQL dialects to make them compatible with PostgreSQL.

It’s a truly innovative and exciting project!

How do you contribute to PostgreSQL which does not involve writing code?

My arrival at Dalibo was marked by a request from the University of Calais to provide courses on databases, specifically PostgreSQL.

I’m not exactly sure why I agreed to take on this position as a part-time lecturer. Deep down, knowledge transfer has always been important to me, and also because I’m the only consultant within an hour’s train ride to the university.

In 2020, I started the crazy project to revive Meetup events in Lille to promote PostgreSQL and its usage.

Today, it’s become a regular community event that takes place in a different venue each time. The audience is curious, the presentations are varied, and the small circle of DBAs in the region is growing!

What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?

db_migrator! Because it’s a fancy way to move data to PostgreSQL.

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

I limit myself to conferences close to my home or accessible by public transportation, such as PGDay UK in London and FOSDEM PGDay in Brussels.

As a member for several editions at the PGSession event, organized by Dalibo, I participate in the conference day in Paris, which opens the calendar of events at the beginning of each year. This year (2024) because of a last-minute modification, I had the opportunity to co-present a talk in front of a French-speaking audience.

I am not comfortable speaking English, and I dread the moment when I have to give my first international talk!

Do you think the use and administration of PostgreSQL has a high entry barrier?

Not at all! I remember the time when I struggled daily with Oracle’s sqlplus command line, or even its internal dictionary looking for information.

When I discovered the psql command line, it was like night and day! No need to be a guru with his precious notebook of snippets to work properly.

I also do not regret teaching at the university; it’s an unique way to support the next generation, which is drowned in a multitude of technologies (both modern and less modern) and to demystify (and make them appreciate!) database administration with PostgreSQL.

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

I frequently ponder this question, if only to reassure myself in my career choice. In 2019, I wrote a blog post (translation) to organize my thoughts before fully committing to Dalibo and, by extension, to the PostgreSQL project.

In the conclusion of that post, I formulated this statement: “Choosing PostgreSQL means engaging in a battle where two ideologies clash: that of free software and that of intellectual property; opposing the software industries to ensure the emergence of sharing and ethics at the heart of ever-growing technology.”

Today, my vision hasn’t changed much. I observe the ever-increasing interest of decision-makers in PostgreSQL on a daily basis; I like to believe that developers and administrators are already convinced like me, but one must come to terms with the fact that nothing is guaranteed, and efforts must remain constant.

What other places do you hang out?

I joined the community Slack recently, especially for the organization of French events, like #pgdayfr or #meetup-pg-lille.

Anything else you like to add?

I really enjoyed the talk “What I learned interviewing the PostgreSQL Community” at PGDay UK 2023 and it’s a pleasure to participate in the interview!