March 29, 2010
For someone who hasn't been immersed in PostgreSQL, the PostgreSQL conference was an interesting experience.
I do have to say that I've never been around a group of people who have more passion for their community. These people, nearly all volunteers (and those who are not volunteers are paid by their companies, not the PostgreSQL organization), spend seemingly every waking moment of their lives learning, talking about, and making - making the PostgreSQL database better. Their goal is stated as to "make the world's most advanced open-source database". Despite the fact that they've succeeded, they keep pushing.
As an outsider looking in, I got an interesting view. Without exception, everyone is very proud of PostgreSQL, but at the same time, they spend an inordinate amount of time defending the status quo. It really is an interesting mixture. The duality between being proud of the progress being made and borderline vehemence over even the slightest change can be confusing.
Tom Lane is a community folk hero, revered for his ability to reject even the most sensible patch (or at least to reject it the first few times it's submitted). On the other hand, the project in general seems to eventually give in to progress, so long as that course of action is proven (through statistics, examples, code, and verification).
All in all, it sounds like a rewarding community to be involved with, even though it sounds frustrating to try to join. According to everyone I spoke with, the barrier to entry is high, and that's how they maintain their quality.
Despite my misgivings about the community itself, I have no complaints about the product. The PostgreSQL database is feature-rich and everything is engineered with ACID compliance in mind. The speedbump I'm going over right now is changing my worldview from that of the comparatively simple MySQL to this new, more powerful set.
Time will tell how well I deal with it, but once I get the hang of some things, I want to write some entries on it, which can hopefully give you a taste of why I'm spending my time on this.