Stefanie Janine Stölting

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Tags:   postgresql (170)   conference (10)   community (25)   fdw (1)   speaker (4)  
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.

My name is Stefanie Janine Stölting and I live in the eastern part of Germany in a small village named Bagenz. I’m originated from the Ruhr, but have been moving around in Germany, Switzerland, and England until I ended up in Bagenz because of a very good friend of mine.

I have been working as a freelancer for most of my professional life, working with data and doing backend programming in a ton of different languages.

Stefanie Janine Stölting

Stefanie Janine Stölting

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

There is a barrier lake near my home where I like to ride the waves with my kayak. But that’s something, I do also at other locations. Photography is another hobby, my preferred field is architecture photography.

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

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

My last book has been Last Night at the Telegraph Club. It is a historical novel set in San Francisco in the 1950s.

There is one book I am mentioning a lot: SQL Antipatterns. It is the best book to learn what not to do with SQL.

Any favourite movie, or show?

Gentleman Jack, it’s covering the real story of Anne Lister based on her diaries. She lived a very unusual life, especially considering that she was born in 1791 in Halifax, England. Nowadays she is called the first modern lesbian.

The bad thing is that it has been cancelled after the second season.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

Staying together with friends, having dinner, and a sleepover on Sundays.

What’s still on your bucket list?

Studying prehistory and ethnology. That is what I always wanted to do, but it is a field where you barely make a living with. And the archaeological excavations have mostly been digging out Roman stuff at the time being over here in Germany. I’d need money to travel to those that I had been interested in.

What is the best advice you ever got?

Live your life.

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

That’s been in the last millennium, in 1998. At that time I had already used a ton of different database software, but all of them, if they were even still available at all, would have cost me monies and that was out of question for a private project.

The first open source one I stumbled about and with has been MySQL. With my experiences in the database field, it was hard to call that a database, I dropped using it very quickly. Shortly afterwards, someone mentioned “Postgre” at a Linux user group to me. Search engines have not been that good at the time being, but in the end I found PostgreSQL.

Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?

It must have been 7.3 or 7.4.

No, I haven’t studied, but I have a professional qualification as Vocational Training as Technical Assistant in Data Processing. These qualifications are very regular here in German, including schooling and practical work in a company. Mine has been scheduled for taking 42 months, I passed the exams, which took three full days, after 18 months.

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

From time to time I am unfaithful, I like SQLite a lot. But PostgreSQL is still my favourite. I’ll touch other databases only to move the data over to PostgreSQL.

Currently there are some extensions that I’ll take care of or that I contribute to.

  • pgsql_tweaks is a collection of functions and views that might help in a DBAs/DBDev daily work.
  • sparql_fdw is a foreign data wrapper for the semantic query language to query key value stores that follow resource description framework, RDF.
  • cassandra2_fdw is a foreign data wrapper to access Apache Cassandra from within PostgreSQL.

Any contributions to PostgreSQL which do not involve writing code?

From time to time I give talks at various conferences, but only the in-person ones. I also had the honour to be on several conference committees.

Recently I started blogging about PostgreSQL. I know, I’m a bit late here.

Last but not least, there is a Telegram channel, where I try to help with advice.

What is your favourite PostgreSQL extension?

That depends on my viewpoint, as a DBA, it is pg_stat_statements, as a data analyst it is PostGIS.

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

pg_stat_statements being an extension, it should be included into core with a configuration that would have it on in every database by default.

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

Reducing index bloat in PostgreSQL 14 has been great.

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

A lot of times I stumble upon a database where pg_stat_statements is not installed. And with the recent hype of having PostgreSQL running in Kubernetes, it has become even more annoying,

Could you describe your PostgreSQL development toolbox?

I love to use psql, which is the only official PostgreSQL client. For some stuff I am using DBeaver, which is the best open source GUI tool for databases in my humble opinion.

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

Being eager to learn new stuff and having an open mind.

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

So far I have visited FOSDEM PGDay, Nordic PGDay, PGCon, PGConf.EU, PGDay Austria, pgDay Paris, PGConf.DE. At some of them I already have given talks.

Do you think PostgreSQL has a high entry barrier?

No, in my humble opinion the project has the best documentation available for open source databases. In addition there are mailing lists, IRC, Slack, Telegram if help is needed.

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

As I haven’t contributed in code, I can’t tell you how to start, but others with more knowledge about this have mentioned that in previous interviews. But you can always spread the word, advocate it, help out at conferences, write about your experiences on blogs and/or social media, help others with advice on whatever platform you like to hang out.

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

Yes, PostgreSQL is here to stay.

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

Both, there is mostly no reason and no excuse not to use PostgreSQL.

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

I am only reading -announce and -docs.

What other places do you hang out?

Telegram, sometimes on Slack, but not regularly.

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

Currently I am not involved in any other projects, but have been in the past. That has mostly been database access layers, intrusion detection, and content management with PHP.

Anything else you like to add?

Attend PostgreSQL conferences. The in person ones, the ones, where you meet people and get in contact with them.