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.
My name is Guillaume Lelarge. I live in Lille, France. I’m working at Dalibo, a french PostgreSQL company.
How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies?
Mostly doing outdoor sports such as hiking, running, biking, and swimming. I also like to cook, probably a bit too much.
Any Social Media channels of yours we should be aware of?
A twitter account (g_lelarge), but I don’t tweet a lot (mostly retweets and some news on the french translation of the PostgreSQL documentation).
And also an Instagram account, definitely not about PostgreSQL. Mostly hobbies.
Last book you read? Or a book you want to recommend to readers?
Last book was The Testaments, Margaret Atwood (sequel to the best known The Handmaid’s Tale). Great book by the way.
Any favorite movie, or show?
No favorite, or lots of them. If I had to choose one, I’d say “The End of the F***ing World”.
How would your ideal weekend look like?
Out, on a bike or running or hiking. Cooking cakes when I’m back. And then reading while eating some cake :)
What’s still on your bucket list?
Way too much to give any kind of list :)
What is the best advice you ever got?
My former boss: “No, don’t use this database engine. Try PostgreSQL instead.”
When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?
That was at my previous job. I wanted to install a database for a documentation website I was working on, and I asked my boss about installing a MySQL database. He told me to use PostgreSQL instead because our main product will use it in the next few months and he needed people with some knowledge of PostgreSQL. To be honest, I wasn’t happy with his answer at the time, but I did as he asked. But, in the end, he was definitely right.
Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?
6.4, a long time ago. We used this release with some customers, but we quickly switched to 7.1, as soon as it was available.
Have you studied at a university? If yes, was it related to computers? Did your study help you with your current job?
Yes, yes, and no :)
What other databases are you using? Which one is your favorite?
I have used MySQL, MS SQL Server, SQLite, and PostgreSQL. My favorite is kinda obvious, and it is PostgreSQL. But I’m also very impressed with SQLite.
On which PostgreSQL-related projects are you currently working?
These days, I’m mostly working on the translation of the PostgreSQL documentation.
I’m also working almost every day on my book.
How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?
I’ve contributed in many ways to PostgreSQL. My first contribution was by translating the PostgreSQL documentation into French (docs.postgresql.fr). I started with the 7.4 release, and we did all the releases from 7.4.something to 13.1.
And I’ve been the treasurer of PostgreSQL Europe for 10 years (if I recall correctly, from 2010 to 2020).
Any contributions to PostgreSQL which do not involve writing code?
There are lots of ways to contribute to PostgreSQL without writing code. I’ve done translation (po files and sgml files), I’ve helped as staff on many occasions before and during various PostgreSQL conferences, I did some talks on occasions, I’ve written articles and a book. There are really so many ways to contribute.
What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?
I never used it myself because it is way above my understanding but I love PostGIS and what one can do with this. I’m always very impressed when I attend a PostGIS talk, even if, I must confess, I don’t understand everything the speaker may say.
What is the feature you like most in the latest PostgreSQL version?
Definitely the index deduplication. I know it has its limitations, but I still like it very much. All the progress views are also very interesting and I hope to see more of them in the future releases.
Adding to that, what feature/mechanism would you like to see in PostgreSQL? And why?
I’d be happy to see more progress views.
Could you describe your PostgreSQL development toolbox?
The old ones: vim, psql, git, gcc, vmstat, strace… in other words, the usual unix toolset, that’s pretty much it.
The new ones: sublime text (especially for writing reports and my book), DBeaver (not as much as I would like, psql is still my best tool most of the time)
Which skills are a must have for a PostgreSQL developer/user?
Patience, Learning is sometimes a slow process. And being happy to learn new things every day.
Do you use any git best practices, which makes working with PostgreSQL easier?
I discovered worktrees a few months ago. This is so useful. So, yeah, definitely worktrees. It helps me compile the various branches of the documentation at the same time, which is definitely a time saver for me.
Which PostgreSQL conferences do you visit? Do you submit talks?
I do submit talks on occasion, but not lately.
Do you think Postgres has a high entry barrier?
Yes. But I also think that anyone can do it as long as he/she has an appetite for learning. It takes time, but it’s doable.
What is your advice for people who want to start PostgreSQL developing - as in, contributing to the project. Where and how should they start?
Review patches. Read the code. Read the mailing lists. Ask for help when needed, and try to help if you can (helping someone is a great way to learn).
Do you think PostgreSQL will be here for many years in the future?
Sure. PostgreSQL was already a very interesting database engine a long time ago, it gets better and better. There’s no reason it would disappear.
Are you reading the -hackers mailinglist? Any other list?
I’m reading as much as I can. To be honest, I completely ignore some topics (such as threads on a new gcc compile option). I try to stay on my main interests: knowing what people are working on, the new features, the bad bugs.
What other places do you hang out?
IRC , the usual #postgresql and #postgresqlfr.
Mailing lists, most of the PostgreSQL ones. There’s always something to learn or to teach to someone.
Anything else you like to add?
I’d like to thank the PostgreSQL community for all the impressive work they’ve done, and will do in the future..