Speaker photo for Matthias van de Meent

Interview with Matthias van de Meent


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Could you briefly introduce yourself?

I'm a 27-year-old from The Netherlands, who's been using PostgreSQL for over 9 years now, of which 7 in a professional manner. Around September 2020 I wrote my first patches to PostgreSQL, and in 2021 I got hired at Neon to work full-time on both PostgreSQL and the PostgreSQL fork that I'll be talking about. When I'm not working on databases I'm usually reading books, usually fiction in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.

How do you engage with the PostgreSQL Community?

You can find me on the -hackers mailing list posting and reviewing patches, in the community slack answering questions, and at various conferences talking with people about PostgreSQL and related things. You can also find me on Twitter under @mmeent_pg.

Have you enjoyed previous PostgreSQL Europe conferences, either as an attendee or as a speaker?

I've been at various PGEU conferences since I've joined the community, I feel they're quite well organized, and I've had the honor of speaking at the 2022 PostgreSQL Europe conference.

What about pgDay Paris specifically

I did attended the 2022 conference, and I remember that the room where lunch was being served was quite warm during said lunch ;-). Apart from that, there were some interesting talks and a good hallway track, so I'm excited to join this year, too.

What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?

I'll be talking about technical challenges we faced (and are facing) at Neon while working on our fork of PostgreSQL and our alternative data layer. Many people may not understand how much PostgreSQL depends on file system semantics, even if they are critical to the correct operations of the database. By removing dependencies on the local file system, we had to find solutions to these implicit and explicit expectations in various subsystems, which were challenging problems to solve.

What is the audience for your talk?

Anyone interested in knowing a bit more about how PostgreSQL uses and depends on the local file system.

Which other talk at this year’s conference would you like to see?

I think I'll check out "Elephant in a nutshell - Navigating the Postgres community 101". While I've been in the community for some time now, I think it helps to see how others look at things to see whether there are misconceptions I have or others may have about the community, and whether there are issues I (or others) are oblivious to. The talk "Collaboration between DEVs and DBAs - creating a contract for long term partition maintenance in JSON" by Boriss and Derk also seems quite interesting. I've once rolled my own partitioning tool for a time-partitioned dataset, and don't really recommend others going through the same efforts: it's a lot of effort getting this correct.

Which measure, action, feature or activity would - in your eyes - help to accelerate the adoption of PostgreSQL?

I think there is still a lot to do in the upgrade path. Currently, upgrading a PostgreSQL cluster requires either a cumbersome logical upgrade path, or a significant downtime window when we're upgrading the catalogs, which can be large hurdles for enterprise installations.

What one action could pgDay Paris take in the future that would make it more inclusive and diverse?

I think I remember groups like PostgreSQL Women either receiving or directly sponsoring tickets to e.g. PGConf.EU, but I don't recall this recurring recently. I think it could help if there was a framework within the organization of PGEU events for e.g. event sponsors to donate vouchers or tickets to such groups that promote equity and diversity, to allow companies to either directly or indirectly sponsor diversity within these events when they have vouchers or money remaining, but don't have the time or capability to find candidates for these tickets themselves.

What PostgreSQL event in 2024 are you most excited about?

Right now, I'm most excited about PGConf.dev: I'm looking forward to seeing what the new organizers of the main PostgreSQL development conference will make of the conference now that it's in Vancouver rather than Ottawa. Apart from that, I'm quite excited for PGConf.EU 2024: It'll be my first time in Greece, and a nice place to go for ~holidays~ PostgreSQL conferences.

Which book are you reading right now?

I've been enjoying the Ascendance of a Bookworm series, and I've just started reading part 5's volume 10 (book 31 of full series). While the series is slow to start, it has great worldbuilding, and with 33 volumes there's a lot to read.