Stéphane Schildknecht



Tags:   postgresql    loxodata    france    slony    training    running   
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, and where you are from.

I live in a small town in the East of France.
After graduating in Computational Chemistry, I jumped into consulting at the beginning of the century. I was already convinced by OpenSource. I had the opportunity to discover MySQL and PostgreSQL at that time. I worked on a big PostgreSQL project, and understood PostgreSQL will be a big game changer in the database industry.
A few years later, I met with great people that were as convinced as I was that PostgreSQL needed french advocates. That is how PostgreSQLFr, french speaking non profit organisation was born.
I have to name Jean-Christophe Arnu, Dimitri Fontaine, Christophe Truffier, Guillaume Lelarge, among people who make this possible. I was chairman of the board of directors until 2010.

In 2010, I created LOXODATA, a PostgreSQL consulting company.

Stéphane Schildknecht

Stéphane Schildknecht

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

I usually start my day by running. Other than that, I like hiking and cycling.
I started learning bass guitar not long ago.
I try to spend most of my free time with my two kids and wife, what was hardly achievable during the first years of LOXODATA.

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 read different kinds of books, from detective novels to technological books. Currently reading “The Plot Against America” from Philip Roth, after having read “La comédie (in)humaine”, from Julia de Funès and Nicolas Bouzou and “The beast must die”, from Nicholas Blake.

Any favorite movie, or show?

I should admit the “Back to the Future” trilogy are the films I still watch with the same joy as the first time.

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

In 2002, the company I worked for won the project to develop the website of the french national health insurance, ameli.fr. The bet was to use PostgreSQL.

Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?

7.1

I passed a PhD in Computational and Theoretical Chemistry at Strasbourg University. The main topic was to create and use a knowledge database on chemical reactions to ease synthesis prediction.
It was somehow related to databases, as we used Oracle databases to store Organic Chemistry Reactions information in these.
I guess it helped with my current job, as it introduced me to databases, opensource, and technical curiosity.

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

I have used Oracle, DB2, MySQL. My favorite is … PostgreSQL.

How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?

I am helping to advocate being a regional contact for the press in french-speaking Europe. I am one of the translators of the press-release.
In the past, I also helped translate the docs. I am really respectful to Guillaume Lelarge for leading and maintaining that project for so many years. It is such a huge work, with little to no consideration.
Another kind of support comes from our involvement in sponsoring PostgreSQL events, PGConf.eu, pgday.paris…

What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?

I should cite pg_stat_statements, which I hugely use. But I could also mention PostGIS, which helps making PostgreSQL be the default database choice for anyone dealing with geographical data.

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

I wouldn’t use the term annoying for the points below, but there are some technical points that are not natively handled by PostgreSQL, which users regularly ask for.
You can back up a cluster, but you don’t have a tool to restore it (pg_basebackup has no restoring counterpart, despite it being quite intuitive, as long as you have done it once).
There is no native load-balancer or pooling solution. There is also no native HA.

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

In PG 13, I would say deduplication of index.
In PG 12, I would say pg_checksums or REINDEX CONCURRENTLY.

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

A long awaited feature by many customers is native HA and multimaster replication. I still wonder what percentage of the people asking for it really need it, but it acts as a marketing silver bullet. People ask for it, because “you know, your competitors do have it”.

Could you describe your PostgreSQL development toolbox?

In a completely random sort, I would name vi, vscodium, psql and dbeaver.

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

Patience and pedagogy.

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

PGConf.EU, pgDay Paris, PGDay France. I do submit talks or trainings, sometimes alone, but more frequently as a pair-team.

Do you think Postgres has a high entry barrier?

Being a PostgreSQL user for 20 years now, I surely forgot the entry barrier I faced at that time. But I can’t remember it as a high entry barrier. Thanks to an exhaustive documentation, and a benevolent community.

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

Having a look at the source code is the best advice I can give. And read mailing lists. It is also interesting to have a look at the commit fest, as it could give some easy steps, such as reviewing patches.

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

Who could think otherwise?

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

For both!

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

I try to, but I must admit I can only have a quick look. I also subscribed to -general, fr-generale, -admin, -advocacy, -announce, -bugs

What other places do you hang out?

I used to connect to IRC, but I was a bit disconnected last months.

Anything else you like to add?

I would like to thank the community as a whole for the great job that is done with PostgreSQL and the people around it.