Reflections on PGCon 2009

Well, another PGCon has come and gone. I always find it ironic how you struggle to cross the finish line, exhausted after such a long week, and yet really it goes by so quickly; one certainly doesn’t have time to reflect while at the conference. Actually my Monday was a perfact foreshadow of the week to come; get to the airport early to make a conference call, only to realize I forgot my boarding pass and then scambling to make the flight. As normal I landed in Ottawa completely unprepared for actually getting from the airport to campus, but was once again bailed out, running into Stephen Frost, whose flight had gotten bumped so he ended up on my plane, and so I hitched a ride with him into the city. My Tuesday would have similar ups and downs, spending a lot of hours on work projects, catching some of the tutorials for the day, some disorganized dinner plans, and then finally breaking bread with some of the Etsy crew with whom I’ve been working with recently. Wednesday I attended the PostgreSQL developer meeting, a gathering of major contributors and some of the more active people within the Postgres community. There was a lot of dicussion, most of which has been captured on the Postgres wiki. I think one of the more interesting things that came out of the discussion was the idea of doing alpha releases after each of the commitfests for 8.5. We can always use more testing feedback, especially from OSS projects, and this might be one way to do it. Also, if we get hot standby or synchronous commit in one of the early commitfests, this will help those features mature much quicker. Thursday and Friday was the conference proper. I’ve worked on many conference committees over the years, but PGCon always presents the strongest line up of Postgres information available, and this year was certainly no exception. While it wasn’t really planned by the conference committee, it was interesting to note that this year one of the under-themes of the talk was that of testing, management, and maintenance. I think what we are starting to see is a maturation of Postgres; for years we’ve been telling people to use this awesome database, and now that people actually are using it, they need to figure out what’s the best way to keep the wheels from falling off. Given the sometimes “wild west” nature that is Open Source and PostgreSQL, I think there is tremendous benefit in having these types of conversations, and I have some hope that we can help teach people the techniques that are needed to push Postgres into more widespread environments. Let me also take a moment to thank Dan and the University of Ottawa. The facilities this year were the best we’ve had at pgcon; the rooms were all well sized, plenty of power outlets, no real issues with the sound/projectors, and wifi worked pretty well throughout. The building itself was also more centrally located to the rest of the city, which proved key to two my lunch outings; one for shawarmas and one to the Elephant and Castle pub, two of the (apparently) few places in Canada that actually serve root beer. I can only hope we’ll get such good facilities next year. Anyway, another PGCon is in the books. In truth it’s not really over, there’s still slide stacks and videos to be reviewed. I’m also still in the market for new DBA’s; a task I was hoping to make more progress on while in town. I’ve also got several other follow-up ideas to get working on. If we didn’t get a chance to sit down and talk (there’s never enough time for that), please feel free to drop me an email. And for those of you who sparked my interest in something, expect an email from me soon; no sense waiting till next year :-)