Boston PostgreSQL Meetup September 10, 2013: PostGIS Intro

We'll be hosting the September 10th, 2013 PostgreSQL User Group meetup at Devonshire Sky Club (in the center of Boston Financial district and block away from city hall). This is the same venue we hosted the Boston OSGeo Code Sprint except this time we'll have some EnterpriseDb folks joining us. Sign-up while supplies last. Leo's got a nice cocktail and food lineup.

We'll be giving an introductory talk about PostGIS and also give a brief overview of what's packed in the PostGIS 2.1 release that is currently in beta, and that should be out by meetup time. Remember this is the first version of PostGIS to support upcoming PostgreSQL 9.3.

Not only will we have cocktails, but we'll also be giving out PostgreSQL/PostGIS door prizes.

Book writing, not one but two second editions

That's right, not only are we currently writing PostGIS in Action, 2nd Edition , but we are also writing the 2nd edition of PostgreSQL: Up and Running. Two books at once is a new first for us.

The second edition of PostgreSQL: Up and Running is going to be a little longer; expect an additional 20-50 pages (for a page count of about 200 pages) and its going to cover A LOT OF PostgreSQL 9.3 features packed with some JSON action, LATERAL moves, some programming examples with PL/V8 (aka PL/JavaScript), PostgreSQL FDW, and new parallel backup feature to name a few. The reader base we are targetting is much the same as the last: users coming from other relational databases and existing PostgreSQL users wanting to learn how to take advantage of new features of PostgreSQL; for this upcoming release: 9.2 and 9.3 are the primary targets.

Although PostgreSQL: Up and Running, 1st edition sold fairly well (a steady 300-375 book sells a month with slightly higher on the eBook sale), we did get several complaints. The complaints were conflicting. We got high points for providing a terse guide that guided you through the voluminous information in the official docs. We got dinged because our book could be read from cover to cover in a matter of hours and pointed you at the official docs section for more information. We also got dinged because we had no index, which we admit really made us irritated too. So this second edition WILL have an index, and will be a tad bit longer, but not so long that its a tome.

The other thing that we got points taken off on is that our book was not introductory enough and was too introductory. I think people who said it was not introductory enough were looking for an introduction to databases (with a PostgreSQL focus) book. These folks would probably be more satisfied reading something else first like one of PacktPub's Instant series or even a plain-old beginning SQL book. We expected readers of our book to be fairly comfortable using SQL so that we could focus our energy showcasing PostgreSQL SQL idioms/twists that are rare or non-existent in other databases; things like arrays, key value stores, json type, row as an object, aggregation of custom types, and ordereded aggregates wrapped in an sql nugget of logic as well as fundamentals of role management, permissions, and backup. The people who said it was too introductory we have no idea what they were expecting except possibly they were looking for examples of changing PostgreSQL core or building extensions which was clearly not our audience focus.

As much as some people whined about the shortness of the book, we got a lot more positive comments about the shortness and easy-read of the book. It's also much easier to keep content fresh and up to date with a shorter book. That said, next book we write we hope to be even more focussed and equally short; perhaps more niche focused, like programming in PL/V8 or PL/R. PL/V8 and PL/R are both languages optimized for a domain problems and a unique way of working/thinking that really make PostgreSQL stand out as very special from other databases. When you get down to the nitty-gritty you could write a huge book about each. Each has a dedicated and growing following of web developers and scientists. They are largely ignored by other PostgreSQL books. Even the PostgreSQL manual, as large as it is, has nothing to say about these extensions because they are not part of core.