As many have said - PostgreSQL 8.3 was released on February 4th, 2008 and has numerous enhancements. Listing of features can be found at PostgreSQL 8.3 release notes, and has been mentioned ad-nauseum by several Postgres bloggers. Robert Treat has provided a nice round-up of blog entries that demonstrate various 8.3 enhancements in his PostgreSQL Blog's 8.3 Feature Round-Up. As a side note, the new EnterpriseDb funded Stack Builder feature for windows provides a nice complement for getting add-ons to PostgreSQL.
Many PostgreSQL contributors are very proud of the fact that PostgreSQL is an open source project and therefore can not be bought like MySQL which is an open source product made by a commercial company. I'm not sure general PostgreSQL users really care that much about this. I suspect that many think
To many, the fact that PostgreSQL can't be bought and that its BSD licensed leaves some nagging questions?
In the end I think what most users care about are 3 things.
In the past, I think PostgreSQL ranked pretty poorly in these areas - e.g. it didn't work natively on Windows, had to compile yourself, wasn't available on many shared hosts (still is case, but the story is getting better), and it had some pretty annoying user-friendly problems (it still does to some extent which we shall go into later, but is much better than when we started using it), and it had extremely limited funding which slowed its movement. Because it had so few users and marketing behind it - it was basically a geek-only friend and therefore few used it and cared to fund it. Today I would say PostgreSQL's pace of achievement is faster than any database (open source or commercial) and the more people relying on it for mission critical applications, the faster that accelaration will become. That key fact faster acceleration, future growth is perhaps the number one reason why we started to use it for projects where we had a choice of database over our past favorites. It may not do everything we need it to do today (heck none of the databases we have come across do everything we need or would like them to do), but it is getting there quicker than anything else.
I don't think the BSD license works for all projects, but for large commodity type projects such as PostgreSQL, I think it works well. The reason: When you have a large complex project with lots of contributors, and is so bread and butter to everything that anybody does, its a pain to fork and then try to reintegrate all the goodies other people have added in later versions especially if you are not in the DBMS building business. Its much easier to work right on the main path so you know when you get back the new version - its got all your enhancements and everyone else's enhancements in it and no need to cut in your changes each and every time. The BSD also means that if you choose to keep some piece of the pie for yourself (which is great for Integrators and DBMS builders) - you don't need to worry about the GPL police coming after you. For small projects in niche markets with few updates - the incentive to fork is much higher.
PostgreSQL is beginning to garner quite a few high-profile company/org use - Skype, Sun, Affilias, SourceForge, Sony Games, and Federal Governements to name a few and these entities are not in the DBMS building business. This means their incentive to pool thier money and invest in missing parts of the PostgreSQL core, instead of handing over millions of licensing dollars to the likes of IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle is high. These companies provide a great marketing tool that no money can buy. The more features PostgreSQL piles on, the more of a no-brainer this decision is. This trickles down to consulting service money, training support, ISP and Integrator support, confidence in users It is alive and building a whole ecosystem of applications that work with it, funding for missing parts and the whole thing just snowballs into a huge feedback loop that grows with each new user as more people rely on this piece of software. The fact that it is BSD licensed is attractive to businesses and research institutions alike. One can see this in the numerous side projects going on that are built on top of the PostgreSQL core.
As many have noticed, there are a couple of DBMS providers that contribute to the PostgreSQL group - e.g. GreenPlum BizGres, and EnterpriseDB are perhaps two of the most glaring contributers. They build a DBMS that is not a forked version, but one built ontop of the main core, but with added features. What is in it for them to contribute? Two thoughts come to mind for us
One of the great things about PostgreSQL, like many other Open source projects/products - is that you don't need to wait 3-5 years to see changes and then have this gigantic thing that you need to engulf as you do with the likes of Microsoft, Oracle and IBM commercial databases. That is perhaps the most attractive thing about it. Nevertheless, there are still some annoying facets about it today that make it more difficult to use in certain cases than Microsoft SQL Server or MySQL for example.
. We'll add this to the Q&A section of this issue.
ALTER TABLE table ALTER COLUMN col TYPE new_data_type USING some_function_call_to_cast_with(col);
Hubert Lubaczewski had a similar rant a couple of months ago in What should be changed in PostgreSQL and while we didn't agree with half the things he said and were on the Thank god PostgreSQL doesn't support that misfeature side, we do feel his pain in other areas.
Check out the PostgreSQL 8.4 wishlist for items that are on the brains of Postgres developers.