Lately I'm reminded that one person's feature is another person's frustration. I've been following Paul's PostGIS Apologia detail about why
things are done a certain way in PostGIS in response to Nathaniel Kelso's: A friendlier PostGIS? Top three areas for improvement.
I've also been following Henrik Ingo: comparing Open Source GIS Implementation to get
a MySQL user's perspective on PostGIS / PostgreSQL. Jo Cook has some interesting thoughts as well in her PostGIS for beginners amendment to Paul's comments.
I have to say that both Nathaniel, Henrik, Jo and commenters on those entries have overlapping frustrations with PostgreSQL and PostGIS. The number one frustration is caused by how bad a job we do
at pointing out avenues to get a friendly installation experience. I do plan to change this to at least document the most popular PostGIS package maintainers soon.
One of the things that Henrik mentioned was his frustration with trying to install PostGIS via Yum PostgreSQL repository and in fact not even knowing about the PostgreSQL Yum repository
that has current and bleeding versions of PostgreSQL. I was surprised he didn't know because as a long-time user of PostgreSQL, I dismissed this as common knowledge. This made me realize just how out of touch
I've become with my former newbie self and I consider this a very bad thing. I was also very surprised about another feature he complained about - CREATE EXTENSION did not work for him because he accidentally
installed the wrong version of PostGIS in his PostgreSQL 9.1. The main reason for his
frustration was something I thought was a neat feature of PostGIS. That is that PostGIS is not packaged into PostgreSQL core and you can in fact have various versions
of PostGIS installed in the same PostgreSQL cluster. This unlike the other OGC spatial offerings of other databases (SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL) allows the PostGIS dev group to work on their own time schedule largely apart
from PostgreSQL development group pressures.
It also means we can take advantage of breaking changes introduced in PostGIS 2.+ for example without impacting existing apps people have running 1.5 and also allow people
to take advantage of newer features even if they are running an earlier PostgreSQL version.
There has been a lot of talk lately about schemaless models touted by NoSQL groups and how PostgreSQL fits into this New world order.
Is PostgreSQL Object-Relational? Is it Multi-Model. We tend to think of PostgreSQL as type liberal and it's liberalness gets more liberal with each new release. PostgreSQL is fundamentally relational, but has little bias about what data types define each column of related tables. One of PostgreSQL great strengths is the ease with which different types can coexist in the same table and the flexible index plumbing and plan optimizer it provides that allows each type, regardless of how wild, to take full advantage of various index strategies and custom index bindings. Our 3 favorite custom non-built-in types we use in our workflow are