Interview with the organisers of PostgreSQL Day 2007

Interview with the organisers of PostgreSQL Day 2007


July 6 and 7, 2007. Italy discovers “The most advanced open-source database” with the first PostgreSQL Day ever to be held in Italy. On behalf of Free Software Magazine I have interviewed some of the most active members of the organising committee. The event is one of the most important in Europe for the current year as far as relational database management systems are concerned, with conferences, talks and presentations on the usage of PostgreSQL. Entry to PGDay 2007 is free.

Introduction

The most advanced open-source database”. This is how the PostgreSQL community promotes this outstanding relational database management system, a free software system initially started by the University of California in 1986.

This summer, Tuscany will be the location for the Italian and European communities of PostgreSQL’s users and developers. On July 6 and 7, the Monash University Prato Centre will host the first Italian PostgreSQL Day (PGDay) [1]. The event is organised by volunteers of the Italian PostgreSQL community [3] and the Prato Linux User Group [4].

I have interviewed some of the members of the organising committee and the international PostgreSQL community to discover more about the event and get some insider information.

Figure 1: PiGy, the PGDay mascotFigure 1: PiGy, the PGDay mascot

Interviews

GB: Why PGDay 2007?

Massimiliano Marini, psql.it: The Italian PGDay was borne out of the PSQL.it community, the main source for Italian PostgreSQL users and developers. Currently, its mailing list contains approximately 400 subscribers.

Given the high level of professional quality of PostgreSQL and its continuous development, the need for a national event that would promote the database was envisaged by some of the more active members of the Italian PostgresSQL community. We therefore decided to organise such an event together with the Prato Linux User Group, a non-profit organisation whose main goal is the promotion of free software. PGDay has been made possible thanks to the voluntary contribution of other PostgreSQL users throughout Italy.

GB: Who is the target group of PGDay 2007 and what are its aims?

Federico Campoli, PLUG: The PGDay 2007 target group is quite broad. It extends from the academic world to industry experts who want to know about a free, effective and reliable alternative to proprietary database solutions. So we have chosen to give equal visibility to these requisites in organising PGDay.

Much interest has already been expressed given the high number of pre-registrations. Initially, the main goals of the event were to promote PostgreSQL in Italy and to consolidate the existing PostgreSQL Italian community. Unfortunately, PostgreSQL’s potential is significantly underestimated in Italy. Given that PostgreSQL is a community-based project, formal channels of marketing and promotion of the software have been non-existent until now. The Italian PostgreSQL community has come together to promote PostgreSQL through the organisation of the first annual conference (PGDay) and through the distribution of promotional material, in synergy with the international community. Going beyond national borders and reaching out to the global community, has allowed us to broaden the scope of the PGDay and to start up a new network of PostgreSQL user groups in Europe.

Going beyond national borders and reaching out to the global community, has allowed us to broaden the scope of the PGDay and to start up a new network of PostgreSQL user groups in Europe

GB: Is the aim to create a European group?

Producing 500 t-shirts for 5 countries is less expensive than 5 countries producing 100 t-shirts, individually

Susanne Ebrecht, PUG Germany: This is our secret hope. We have been actually thinking of creating a base for a European Group of PostgreSQL users. One of the main reasons is practicality. A few months ago I needed some flyers to promote PostgreSQL in Germany but could not find any assistance within Europe. The only way was for the American Group to send me flyers, but there were the associated logistical problems (shipment costs, taxes, etc.). The same problems faced by the Italian Group in the organisation of PGDay, as well as other European national groups such as in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The need for a synergy in the production and distribution of merchandise for European countries, for example, is just one of the key aspects of the Group. Producing 500 t-shirts for 5 countries is less expensive than 5 countries producing 100 t-shirts, individually.

Another important aspect is handling donations arriving from all over Europe and redistributing the funds amongst the national groups that are involved in the organisation of events.

At the moment some countries have such small groups of users (up to 3 people) and they cannot organise themselves into an official national community or user group. This is where the European Group would help them to promote PostgreSQL in their country.

Every national PostgreSQL user group will continue to work independently, to promote PostgreSQL in their own national language and using their own technical resources. In case of the need for assistance with event organisation and promotion, they could consult the European Group.

Last but not least, it is important that users across national groups get to know one another. After all, we are a group of people and the PostgreSQL European Group must follow, on a lower scale, the same principles of knowledge sharing and respect of differences as outlined by European Union.

GB: Can you briefly outline the program and describe the topics that will be covered during PGDay 2007? Are members of the international community participating in PGDay 2007?

Luca Ferrari, Paper Review Committee for PGDay: The PGDay program will include several presentations in the realm of PostgreSQL, from the perspective of both users and developers.

There will be a presentation given by PostgreSQL leader, Josh Berkus, as well as other presentations by developers of PostgreSQL. Moreover, users and developers are invited to submit abstracts to the call for papers. PGDay welcomes papers related to research projects as well as running applications; users and developers are currently submitting interesting pieces. Besides advanced and technical sessions, there will be also a session for beginners in order to make PostgreSQL a worthwhile experience for all interested.

GB: Mr Berkus, as core member of PostgreSQL, why is it that the Italian PGDay could be an important milestone for the European communities of PostgreSQL?

Two years ago, we had only one conference, in Japan. Last year we had two in Japan and one in Canada. This year, Japan, Canada, Italy, and Brazil! This shows how much the PostgreSQL community has grown over the last few years

Josh Berkus: Two years ago, we had only one conference, in Japan. Last year we had two in Japan and one in Canada. This year, Japan, Canada, Italy, and Brazil! This shows how much the PostgreSQL community has grown over the last few years. I’m hoping that this conference will help bring together the European PostgreSQL communities for greater cooperation and activism throughout the whole European Union. And, of course, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to visit Italy. Mi piace molto l’Italia!—I really like Italy!

GB: Mr Fetter, as editor of the PostgreSQL Weekly News, why have you decided to participate in PGDay 2007?

David Fetter: I do it for the same reason I participate in other parts of the PostgreSQL community, namely to promote an excellent tool that people can use without artificial limits. It’s also my first chance to visit beautiful Prato and Florence.

GB: Is the event free? Is it necessary to register?

Emilia Venturato, Faunalia: Yes, the event is free, thanks to sponsorship from local organisations and several companies working with PostgreSQL. To find out more about the event simply register on online [1].

GB: Why Tuscany for PGDay? Is Prato within easy reach from the rest of Europe?

Andrea Bettarini, PLUG: The answer is an obvious one. Tuscany is the most beautiful region in the world! [says Andrea, jokingly]. The geographical position of Prato, in the centre of Italy, makes it within easy reach for people coming from all directions of the Italian Peninsula (north and south). Also, Prato is strategically linked by train to the main Italian cities, such as Rome and Milan. Within a radius of 100 Km there are 3 international airports (Florence, Pisa and Bologna). Participants coming from France, Germany and Austria can easily reach Florence railway station, which is 10Km from Prato. In conclusion, there are no excuses for not coming to Prato!

Conclusion

It goes without saying that the organising committee is meeting the challenge in the organisation of such an event. It is promising to see how free software can unite people from different parts of the world who dedicate their spare time to promoting open-source.

This is undoubtely the beauty of free software.

Given also the recognition it is now receiving by the Italian Government, in terms of free software promotion and adoption, the event will be an important chance for national public organisations to choose PostgreSQL as their main and reliable database management system. The same issue can be extended to Europe in general.

PGDay, which will take place on the eve of PostgreSQL’s 21st anniversary (the project commenced on July 8, 1986), is an excellent opportunity to see one of the most active and important open-source projects at its best. And of course, entry is free.

License

This article is made available under the “Attribution-Sharealike” Creative Commons License 2.5 available from http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/

Bibliography

[1] PostgreSQL Day, http://www.pgday.it/

[2] PostgreSQL.org, http://www.postgresql.org/

[3] Italian PostgreSQL Community (PSQL.it), http://www.psql.it/

[4] Prato Linux Users Group, http://www.prato.linux.it/

Category: 

Author information

Gabriele Bartolini's picture

Biography

Gabriele Bartolini has been a Web developer for over 11 years, with experience in various database management systems (PostgreSQL, MySQL, Informix), programming languages (including C, C++ and PHP), technologies (including XHTML, CSS, XML, XSLT and Web accessibility). Since 1998, he's been actively involved in the open-source community, with the development of free software applications such as ht://Dig, ht://Check and ht://Miner.
He has a degree in Statistics and Information Systems (University of Florence) but his interests are in data mining and data wareshousing applied to the web field (web mining).
Gabriele works for the Comune di Prato, Tuscany, Italia.
He has studied and lived in Melbourne, Australia for a few years, where he has worked as a senior software engineer at Hitwise, a world leader for competitive intelligence on the web.
In the spare time, Gabriele likes to play the guitar and, although in July 2006 he reached his ‘Soccer Nirvana’ when Italy won the World Cup, he still loves to follow soccer, play soccer and coach soccer to children in Prato.