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Speaker Interview: Dimitri Fontaine

Data Modeling, Normalization and Denormalization   Wednesday 17:20   New York

Twitter: @tapoueh Blog: GitHub: LINK LinkedIn: dimitrifontaine Facebook: LINK Company website: Website: Google+: +DimitriFontaine

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Hi! I am Dimitri Fontaine, and I've been contributing to PostgreSQL features such as Extensions support and Event Triggers. I also write and maintain the pgloader migration utility, that is meant to allow for a fully automated (as in CI/CD) migration from MySQL, MS SQL or SQLite to PostgreSQL.

I wrote a book that teaches SQL to developers, it's available at

How do you engage with the PostgreSQL Community?

Nowadays mostly through going to conferences and spreading good news and knowledge about PostgreSQL, targeting those who have the most to benefit from our favorite RDBMS: developers.

I also publish the pgloader utility as an Open Source software (same licence as PostgreSQL itself): pgloader loads data into PostgreSQL from many different sources, including other database systems. It allows to implement Continuous Migration in a fully automated way.

Have you enjoyed previous or FOSDEM conferences, either as attendee or as speaker?

I've been to every conference but one, and spoke at almost all of them. FOSDEM is great too, though not as good as a full blown PostgreSQL Conference Europe, which is still pretty unique in my mind. I hope to continue having interesting bits to share with the community in the years to come so that I can keep up with this, because I sure enjoy it ;-)

The main thing to realize about PostgreSQL Conference Europe is that everyone is welcome! From the curious to the core developer, we listen to everyone.

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

Data Modeling, Normalization and Denormalization is a very important topic when using PostgreSQL. We are not schemaless, and this is a huge feature when used the right way. One angle to look at things is data deduplication, which serves two goals: first, there's less data to take care about, so everything is then easier and faster. Second, with a properly normalized schema you can't have anomalies, because any single fact that is known to the system exists only in one place.

What is the audience for your talk?

Any person who's ever had to write SQL before will benefit. If you're a developer using an ORM to create and maintain your database schema, you'll benefit twice as much as the other attendees!

What existing knowledge should the attendee have?

Having done some SQL in the past is enough to understand this talk really.

What is the one feature in PostgreSQL 11 which you like most?

The one feature? It's a very tricky question for me. What I like the most about new PostgreSQL releases is that almost every part of the system gets improved and refined. You've read it elsewhere before, it's from Alan Kay: “Simple things should be simple, complex things should be possible.” PostgeSQL truly lives by that statement, and with every new release the list of things that are simple grows, and the list of complex things that are possible also grows, and often enough those complex things become simple things in a couple releases time frame.

So the one feature in PostgreSQL 11 that I like most is the continuous improvement on-top of the awesome bits we already took for granted.

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

The Keynote from Paul Ramsey happens to be on that list, even though there's no competition. Then Louise's talk of course, because I know the work she did put into that one and the quality she's used to deliver. “Pluggable storage in PostgreSQL” to have a preview of what's happening in the product development, and also because I sure don’t get the good parts of this idea yet, and Andres usually is convincing. Well and some more of course.

Will you come with paperback copies of your book that you could sign when in Lisbon?

I can do that! Tell me if you’re interested on twitter and I’ll see about making some room in my suitcase for some books!