Ilaria Battiston

Tags:   postgresql    student    gsoc    opensource    learning    databases    inclusivity    code    postgreswomen   
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 am Ilaria, a 22-year-old Italian student currently studying Data Engineering at TU Munich. My main hobby, original enough, is open source advocacy: volunteering, contributing and learning. I am incredibly passionate about databases and algorithms, hoping to be able to work with them for life. I also love travelling and cooking :)

Ilaria Battiston

Ilaria Battiston

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

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

I started in 2018, while doing a 9-months internship for my Bachelor’s thesis. My goal was to perform exploratory analytics on medical data stored with Postgres, and it was tough at first! I had to learn a lot of query optimization and performance tuning, and I got more and more passionate about this DBMS.

Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?

With 9.5.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science which surely does not hurt, but I feel like the best part of my knowledge comes from getting my hands dirty, experimenting and digging into documentation.

I am learning to be a PostgreSQL DBA, getting to know the source code and revisiting my programming skills to be able to contribute as a developer in the future.

How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?

I feel like the best way to contribute right now is doing my best to be an active part of the community, sticking around and promoting Postgres - since I am so young, there is still a lot to learn, and in the future I want to give back everything this wonderful group of people is giving me.

Any contributions to PostgreSQL which do not involve writing code?

I volunteer at conferences, especially PGConf.EU which I help organize. I am also part of Postgres Women to spread inclusivity and diversity.

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

I would like to see an improvement of the query optimizer for subqueries, because right now Postgres is not able to recognize correlation and runs extremely slow subqueries within WHERE - but I’m working on that :)

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

Patience! It takes time to learn, and not everyone is at the same level, so patience is essential both for interacting with people and to learn without being frustrated.

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

I mainly go to pgDay FOSDEM, PGConf.DE and PGConf.EU. I have also been a speaker, and conferences so far have been extremely pleasant experiences.

Do you think Postgres has a high entry barrier?

Not at all, the community is extremely nice and accepting, always ready to make people feel welcome.

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

Do not be afraid of the code! It seems like a lot to handle at first, but the more you look into it, the clearer it gets, and it is extremely well documented, therefore it is not hard to understand what does what. Get involved in the mailing lists and speak up, if there is a feature you would like, or a bug you feel important to report, and think about how it can be fixed! Always remember this is open source and every contribution is valuable since people are all volunteering.

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

Definitely! I think Postgres is the most promising relational database so far, and I am seeing more and more companies switching to it.

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

Absolutely! I would recommend Postgres for any use case requiring a database.

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

I am mostly lurking pgsql-announce, and active in pgsql-women.

What other places do you hang out?

Telegram and Slack.

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

I am in the administrative committee of a Linux User Group in Milan, and every year we organize Linux Day Milano, one of the most important open source conferences on a national level. Furthermore, we provide help to students getting to know Linux, offering tutorials and advice, and generally promoting the open source philosophy. I am also involved with KDE, being part of the organizers team for Akademy, and I am getting to know more the LibreOffice community.

Anything else you like to add?

I would like to thank the community again - it’s hard to describe how thankful I feel actually, but I genuinely think getting involved with Postgres has changed my life. I got to meet amazing people who gave me incredible opportunities - travelling, learning, growing - and I really see myself working with and for Postgres in the long term.