Francesco Tisiot



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Tags:   postgresql (149)   devrel (1)   education (6)   integration (1)   italy (2)   open source (3)   sql (7)  
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’m Francesco, Senior Developer Advocate at Aiven, coming from the almost always sunny Verona, Italy! I like to define myself as a computer science engineer who loves talking and interacting with people, and have the luxury of doing it as a full time job! My days are divided between research, content creation and helping people out in various public forums over a variety of topics and technologies. When I close the computer I’m a super happy dad of two kids.

Francesco Tisiot

Francesco Tisiot

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

The last sentence in the previous question is a hint to the fact that I don’t have much “free” time. I enjoy spending time with the kids, doing all the activities they like, including:

  • Having nails coloured
  • Running, playing ball, hide and seek
  • Playing all the minor characters of any Disney movie

When I find a niche of time, I enjoy reading, football and eating good food.

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 “Developer Relations: How to build and grow a successful developer program”, and getting tons of insight on how to do my job, and how it can affect companies and individuals. In a world where almost any company is a software company, the Devrel work is crucial to bridge the gap between products and outside developers. If you’re facing DevRels for the first time, and if you would like to understand why we exist, it’s worth a read.

Any favorite movie, or show?

Excluding Peppa Pig, which is not a choice I make voluntarily, I enjoy a lot of stand-up comedies.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

Facing the sea, with my toes in the sand, looking at kids playing while sitting in a good restaurant.

What’s still on your bucket list?

Visit new places! I’m always trying to balance traveling with some solid family time. But finding new places is something I love.

What is the best advice you ever got?

“When you’ve reached rock bottom, there’s only one way to go, and that’s up!” - Mr Moon (Sing 2016)

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

Started in 2020, when I joined Aiven. I’ve been using other databases in the past, and, when I started with PostgreSQL, I fell in love immediately.

The breadth of functionalities, the extensions and the great community kept my enthusiasm high since then!

I’m a computer science engineer and my study helped me find my first job in consultancy.

From there, I can’t say that I apply the notions coming from my study on a daily basis, but, sometimes, my previous knowledge helps me better understand the tech content I’m learning.

I’m currently working on metadata-parser, a tool written in Python that extracts metadata from a series of Open source technologies, creates a network graph connecting all the dots and stores it in PostgreSQL. The tool can be helpful to recreate a global map of the company data assets and reply to data-lineage, security and impact assessment questions via a SQL query.

How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?

I love exploring the tool, sectioning a set of features, building a use-case and speaking/blogging about the result. Contributing to PostgreSQL by talking about PostgreSQL and explaining features in a simple, understandable language.

What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?

Complex question… I would say that I loved playing with fuzzystrmatch quite a lot. FuzzyStrMatch provides a lot of help if you need to compare strings, by offering functions to understand their differences both in terms of number of characters and sound. Really useful to verify if, for example, a customer with a similar sounding name is already present in your table. For similar purposes, I also used the unaccent extension, a useful way to remove accents from words.

For playing with geographical and spatial data, I also love the set of PostGIS extensions. They make working with complex shapes very natural in SQL.

The reality is that I love a lot of PostgreSQL extensions because they make the developer experience smoother across a wide range of areas like:

The list is very long!

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

Is not in the latest, but I loved the new SEARCH and CYCLE feature in PostgreSQL 14

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

Better handling of replication slots during failover. I’ve done a bit of work creating content around PostgreSQL, Debezium and Apache Kafka, and the loss of replication slots during failover is the current biggest pain point.

Could you describe your PostgreSQL development toolbox?

I use mostly psql.

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

I believe that the must have skills is just one: the willingness to learn. With the current set of tools available, PostgreSQL can be used in some sort and shape by anybody. The willingness to learn, however, will make you find the best tool, language, methods and features to make your work more effective.

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

Submitting talks is part of my job (which I love). I’ve been speaking at:

Do you think PostgreSQL has a high entry barrier?

I don’t think so. The current ecosystem of tools and providers enable a good PostgreSQL experience with minimal knowledge. Even more, the documentation is spot on, and gives a very good set of instructions across all the functionalities I’ve been exploring.

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

I believe so. PostgreSQL is rising in terms of popularity and adoption and the product itself is really smooth and solid.

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

Both! That’s the beauty of PostgreSQL: the same database can serve you from little side project use cases, to massive production sites! You don’t need to rethink your architecture half way out.

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

I’m Involved in the Apache Kafka and Apache Flink projects, contributing like I do for PostgreSQL.