Wednesday, August 15. 2012
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.
Continue reading "Feature or Frustration"
Sunday, August 12. 2012
Tuesday, July 10. 2012
Recommended Books: PostgreSQL: Up and Running
Our new book PostgreSQL: Up and Running is officially out. It's available in hard-copy and e-Book version directly from O'Reilly, Safari Books Online and available from Amazon in Kindle store. It should be available in hard-copy within the next week or so from other distributors.
Sadly we won't be attending OSCON this year, but there are several PostgreSQL talks going on. If you are speaking at a talk or other PostgreSQL related get together, and would like to give out some free coupons of our book or get a free e-book copy for yourself to see if it's worth effort mentioning, please send us an e-mail: lr at pcorp.us .
Our main focus in writing the book is demonstrating features that make PostgreSQL uniquely poised for newer kinds of workflows with particular focus on PostgreSQL 9.1 and 9.2. Part of the reason for this focus is our roots and that we wanted to write a short book to get a feel for the audience. We started to use PostgreSQL in 2001 because of PostGIS, but were still predominantly SQL Server programmers. At the time SQL Server did not have a spatial component that integrated seamlessly with SQL. As die-hard SQLers, PostGIS really turned us on. As years went by, we began to use PostgreSQL not just for our spatial apps, but predominantly non-spatial ones as well that had heavy reporting needs and that we had a choice of platform. So we came for PostGIS but stayed because of all the other neat features PostgreSQL had that we found lacking in SQL Server. Three off the bat are arrays, regular expressions, and choice of procedural languages. Most other books on the market just treat PostgreSQL like it's any other relational database. In a sense that's good because it demonstrates that using PostgreSQL does not require a steep learning curve if you've used another relational database. We didn't spend as much time on these common features as we'd like to in the book because it's a short book and we figure most users familiar with relational databases are quite knowledgeable of common features from other experience. It's true that a lot of people coming to PostgreSQL are looking for cost savings, ACID compliance, cross-platform support and decent speed , but as PostgreSQL increases in speed, ease of features, and unique features, we think we'll be seeing more people migrating just because its simply better than any other databases for the new kinds of workflows we are seeing today -- e.g. BigData analysis, integration with other datasources, leveraging of domain specific languages in a more seamless way with data.
So what's that creature on the cover?
Tuesday, April 03. 2012
Yap that's right. PostGIS 2.0.0 is finally out the door. It took us Two years and 2 months, a super long incubation for us, but we did it and just in time for Javier's Where 2.0 2.0 Talk.. Paul has some border-line R rated pictures of the birthing process.
We have windows 32 binaries posted for those adventurous enough to taste the cookies while they are hot. We are working on the windows 64-bit binaries. Those should be out tomorrow. We'll be working in the coming week to get the installers ready to put up so they are available via Stack Builder. We'll probably put up the 32-bit ones first, hopefully followed shortly by the 64-bit ones. You should see PostGIS 2.0.0 soon on Yum as well. Devrim is cooking :).
Saturday, March 10. 2012
UPDATE We have PostGIS 2.0.0 available for both 32-bit and 64-bit windows PostgreSQL. We are wroking on getting the installers out
This past week has been very nerve racking but also exciting. We have successfully compiled PostGIS under the mingw64 chain and built a PostGIS windows 64-bit for 2.0 (and 1.5), that can install under the Enterprise Db VC++ 64-bit builds of PostgreSQL 9.1. We haven't tried on 9.0, but we assume that should be fairly trivial. Note only that, but it passes most of the PostGIS battery of tests. We first want to thank a group of people which made this all possible:
We hope to have a 64-bit compiled download ready next week for PostGIS 2.0.0 beta3 for people to try out. We are working on some issues with the raster2pgsql and loader/dumper guis we compiled not working right, but the core PostGIS works just fine in 64-bit and the 32-bit loader tools work fine against a 64-bit install. One thing we did notice with the 64-bit PostgreSQL is that we can set shared_buffers much higher than the 32-bit PostgreSQL windows. On windows we could never go beyond ~700MB without it not being able to start or crashing. With the 64-bit we were able to go to 2GB. Haven't tried higher yet. We hope this will prove to be a performance boost for tasks such as geocoding that reuse a lot of the same datasets and benefit a lot from share memory.
Sunday, February 05. 2012
As many may have noticed, PostgresOnline.com has been down for the past week or so and probably is still not reachable from many parts of the world since our DNS server was also taken down as a result of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack instigated by an Activision Call of Duty Game exploit that turned thousands of Call of Duty game servers into Zombies launching an attack on us.
We have a small confession to make. One of the businesses we co-own is an e-Commerce site that sells condoms. You never know how people will react when you say that in mixed company so we only mention it in closer company. Some people are glad we are in a business protecting against venereal diseases or unwanted pregnancies and some feel strongly we are violating a mother nature creed of conduct. WowCondoms was the site that was under attack on a UDP port and we are not sure if it was a malicious intent or not since the root instigator has not been found yet. The attack was higher up from our servers so it knocked our ISP who in turn blamed us for their outage. We never saw the traffic.
The tragic thing is that it can happen to any site and does all the time. It really hit home when it happened to us.
Details of our fight are described here: WowCondoms plugs hole in Activision's Call of Duty Game Servers
Wednesday, December 14. 2011
Recommended Books: PostGIS in action and other PostgreSQL books
Two exciting things happened this past month.
Continue reading "GeoInformatics article and new book in the works"
Sunday, December 11. 2011
Recommended Books: SQL and Relational Theory: How to write accurate SQL code SQL Pocket guide
In our article The Pure Relational database is dead there were a lot of misunderstandings as a result of our poor choice of words. People thought we were bashing the relational model because in their mind that was what pure meant. I got hit with a lot of poetic insults. I still can't think of an alternative word to use for what I meant. Simple doesn't really do it as even relational databases with just standard types were far from simple when you consider the planner and all the other stuff going on under the hood to protect you from the underlying storage structure. What I was trying to say is that in the beginning most relational databases just supported a standard set of types which you could not expand on and most people when they think relational today still think just that. That type of relational database is in my book dead or almost dead.
How did this all start. Well whenever we use something like PostgreSQL to store anything complex -- take your pick: geometry data, tree like structures which we use ltree for, full-text query constructs, and Yes XML we get bashed by some know-it-all who has a very narrow view of what a relational database should be doing and suggesting we use a NoSQL database, a graph engine or a full text engine or normalize our data more. I have also learned XML is a dirty word to many people. I mistakenly thought XML was a complex type people could relate to, but turns out they can relate to it so well that it brings up tragic memories I can only equate to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered by war veterans or (early or wrong) technology adopters. That was not my intent either. XML was just merely an example. I will not say you should use XML in your tables, but I will also not say you should stay clear of it as many people wanted me to say. I will say its use is rare, but it has its place. It has its place just as any other complex type and it has its own special needs for navigation, indexing etc. which many relational databases handle fine enough.
Continue reading "The Relational Model is very much alive"
Saturday, December 03. 2011
A lot of redditers took offense at our article XPathing XML data with PostgreSQL with the general consensus, if you are going to be stuffing XML in a relational database where will you stop? That is not what relational databases are designed for. We had comitted a sacrilegious sin and worsed yet encouraging bad habits by forcing people to think more about different options they have for storing data in a relational database and god forbid demonstrating querying such columns with xml specific functions. What were we thinking? How dare we try to query XML data with SQL? Perhaps we were thinking like this guy or this guy, both equally misguided spatial relational database folk. Of course we stepped one foot further by actually defining a column as xml and dare storing data in it for later consumption rather than just an intermediary step.
If I want to store documents, that are navigateable I should be using a document database like MongoDb, CouchDB etc designed for that kind of stuff. If I've got graphs I should be using a graph database. This got me thinking that the "Pure Relational Database" is dead, and I'm surprised most people don't seem to realize it.
So while "Relational databases" have changed over the last 25 years, most people's notions of them have not kept up with the pace of its change.
First let me define what I mean by Pure. A pure relational database is one with standard meat and potato types like text, dates, numbers well suited for counting money and computing how close the world is to total bankruptcy which you store as fields in a row of a table and that you then define foreign keys / constraints / primary keys on to relate them to other tables. You reconstitute your real world objects by stitching these tables together with joins etc and return sets using where conditions, summarize by using group bys or other mathy like constructs. Don't get me wrong; these are very beautiful things because they allow for easy slicing of dimensions and not having to think about all the dimensions that make up an object all at once. In fact it was so beautiful that some people thought, "wow that's cool, but it would be even cooler if I could store more complex objects in those columns with their own specific needs for querying." and so was born the object relational database as some people refer to them that thought relational but also understood that different types had their own unique needs for querying, storage, indexing etc.
Nowadays most, if not all, relational like databases have standardized on some variant of SQL. In essence though, the pure relational database doesn't allow you to define new types or have exotic types such as arrays, xml, graphs, geometries, rasters, sparse matrices etc. Much less thinking involved and less likely you will shoot yourself in the foot by dumping a bunch of xml in a field and trying to do something with it. When it is used to store more complex things such as spreadsheets and other user documents, these are stored as blobs and just retrieved. Even such use is frowned upon.
Well most relational databases I can think of nowadays have richer types: e.g. PostgreSQL, Oracle and Firebird all support arrays as a column type. Some even allow you to define custom types and functions to support your custom types e.g. PostgreSQL (I could go on forever), Oracle has rich user defined type support too, and SQL Server 2005+ with each version getting better and better for user defined custom types and introducing more exotic types and support infrastructure. Even MySQL/Drizzle (mostly in the form of different storage engines). Even my favorite light-weight SQLite under the hood has some tricks that aren't what I would call relational. E.g. Spatialite/RasterLite has a whole geometry type library built on SQLite with functions you can call from SQL and I'm sure there are lots of middleware tools you don't know about using the SQLite and Firebird engine for more than relational tasks (e.g. HTML5 anyone/ CAD anyone).
Friday, October 28. 2011
FOSS 4G 2011 Videos. My resident PostGIS developer strk says he can't see them because blip.tv is using some sort of proprietary video swf format. I can't really tell what he is talking about. Does anyone know if fosslic videos are available in other formats like ogg or a Gnash swf viewer compatible format?
We mentioned in prior article Our FOSS4G 2011 the new Stuff and provided the slides in that article. Now we have the video to go with it.Here is a partial list of PostGIS videos:
Continue reading "Many PostGIS FOSS4G 2011 videos have landed"
Friday, October 14. 2011
It is with sadness that I learned of the passing of Dennis Ritchie - inventor of C and who made much of Unix, other operating systems, and many software (including Postgres) possible. More details at Remembering Dennis Ritchie: Software Pioneer and Dennis Ritchie, in Memoriam.
Dennis Ritchie co-authored the book, The C Programming Language, a classic, which many of my peers grew up with. It was one of the textbooks at MIT for Civil Engineering 1.00 when we were attending when the course was essentially an introduction to programming with C.
The harsh irony is that when Steve Jobs passed away I was probably the only one around me who felt no remorse and hoped the curve fanaticism Jobs fueled would die with him. When Dennis Ritchie passed away I was probably one of the few around me who knew who he was and appreciated the great contributions he made to the computer industry.
Wednesday, October 12. 2011
This is about improvements to GIST indexes that I hope to see in PostgreSQL 9.2. One is a patch for possible inclusion in PostgreSQL 9.2 called SP-GiST, Space-Partitioned GiST created by Teodor Sigaev and Oleg Bartunov whose basic technique is described in SP-GiST: An Extensible Database Index for Supporting Space Partitioning Trees. For those who don't know Teodor and Oleg, they are the great fellows that brought us many other GiST and GIN goodnesses that many specialty PostgreSQL extensions enjoy -- e.g. PostGIS, trigrams, ltree, pgsphere, hstore, full-text search to name a few.
Another is a recent one just committed by Alexander Korotkov which I just recently found out about on New node splitting algorithm for GIST and admit I don't know enough about to judge. I have to admit to being very clueless when it comes to the innards of index implementations so don't ask me any technical details. It's one of those short-comings among the trillion others I have that I have learned to accept will probably never change.
What the SP-GIST patch will provide in terms of performance and speed was outlined in PGCon 2011: SP-GiST - a new indexing infrastructure for PostgreSQL Space-Partitioning trees in PostgreSQL.
What it provides specifically for PostGIS is summarized in Paul's call for action noted below. As a passionate user of PostGIS ,ltree, tsearch, and hstore, I'm pretty excited about these patches and other GIST and general index enhancements and there potential use in GIST dependent extensions. I'm hoping to see these spring to life in PostgreSQL 9.2 and think it will help to further push the envelope of where PostgreSQL can go as a defacto platform for cutting-edge technology and scientific research. I think one of PostgreSQL's greatest strength is its extensible index API.
Paul's PostGIS newsgroup note about seeking funding for faster GIST indexes , work done so far on SP-GIST and call for further action is rebroadcast in it's entirety here.
Thanks to the sponsorship of Michigan Technological University, we now have 50% of the work complete. There is a working patch at the commitfest https://commitfest.postgresql.org/action/patch_view?id=631 which provides quad-tree and kd-tree indexes. However, there is a problem: unless the patch is reviewed and goes through more QA/QC, it'll never get into PostgreSQL proper. In case you think I am kidding: we had a patch for KNN searching ready for the 9.0 release, but it wasn't reviewed in time, so we had to wait all the way through the 9.1 cycle to get it. I am looking for sponsors in the $5K to $10K range to complete this work. If you use PostgreSQL in your business, this is a chance to add a basic capability that may help you in all kinds of ways you don't expect. We're talking about faster geospatial indexes here, but this facility will also radically speed any partitioned space. (For example, the suffix-tree, which can search through URLs incredibly fast. Another example, you can use a suffix tree to very efficiently index geohash strings. Interesting.) If you think there's a possibility, please contact me and I will send you a prospectus you can take to your manager. Let's make this happen folks! Paul
Continue reading "Improving speed of GIST indexes in PostgreSQL 9.2"
Wednesday, August 24. 2011
The Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) is schedule for September 12-16, 2011 in Denver, CO. PostGIS is going to be making a big showing at this event. Paul Ramsey's popular Introduction to PostGIS workshop is already sold out. Check out the schedule of other PostGIS related talks FOSS4G 2011 PostGIS related talks.
We'll be presenting on Friday PostGIS 2.0, the new stuff and showcasing some of the new features in upcoming PostGIS 2.0. In fact Friday seems to be a day jam packed with PostGIS talks back to back in the Windows room. We probably won't even have to leave the room to get our fill of PostGIS.
I'm particularly looking forward to Steven Singer's PostGIS replication talk and Jim Mlodgenski's Scaling PostGIS Queries with Stado since these are becoming critical areas as we take on larger and more complex work.
Friday, June 03. 2011
Since others have shared their PostgreSQL Conference notes on Planet PostgreSQL: Josh Berkus, Blake Crosby, Selena Deckelman, Dmitri Fontaine, Bruce Momjian, Gabrielle Roth, Andreas Scherbaum, and Greg Smith, I thought I'd do my civic duty and add Paul Ramsey's notes to the mix. His are on his corporate OpenGeo blog which is carried by Planet Geospatial and Planet OSGeo but not by Planet PostgreSQL. One thing I admire about Paul is how easily he lets himself be changed by his environment. Sometimes you have to be a little careful what you say to him since he sometimes takes your comments a little too much to heart and changes a little bit more than you had intended. Anyrate here are his notes: PgCon Notes #1, PgCon Notes #2, PgCon Notes #3.
Monday, May 16. 2011
This past week our PostGIS Project Steering Committee has gotten a wee bit bigger with the addition of Sandro Santilli and Chris Hodgson. So now we are 5 people strong. Though we have drastically different opinions on things, I think we all have the best interest of PostGIS users in mind such that the difference creates a healthy compromise in perspectives.
Our PostGIS development team has gotten a new addition as well. We have Bborie Park hailing from UC Davis Center for Vectorborne Diseases helping out on the raster front. You might have seen him on the PostgreSQL news groups asking questions. He is currently working on raster image export functions, so that you can do things like ST_AsPNG(rast,...) right from the database. In addition he is also working on raster statistics functions like histograms, mean, minmax, stddev, reclass functions.
Bborie, if you get some of this in for 2.0, I promise to help document these new functions and to write an ASP.NET and PHP application/tutorial that flaunts some of them.
Bborie just committed all these functions to PostGIS code base. I'm starting to add them to the documentation and start testing them now. We'll release a windows experimental build with these in them in the next couple of days. Yee Pee!
Continue reading "New Additions and Promotions in PostGIS Development Team"
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