Speaker photo for Henrietta Dombrovskaya

Interview with Henrietta Dombrovskaya


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Could you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Henrietta (Hettie) Dombrovskaya. Originally from Russia, I moved to the US in 1996. I live in Chicago, Illinois, where I recently moved after living in the suburbs for many years. My professional career in databases and information management is almost forty years long. I worked in all possible industries and with all possible databases you can and can’t imagine.

How do you engage with the PostgreSQL Community?

The most important part of my engagement with the PostgreSQL community is my role as a Chicago PostgreSQL User Group local organizer. I stepped into this role in January 2017, and grew the Chicago PostgreSQL community to one of the most visible groups in the Western Hemisphere. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we met virtual, and now we resumed in-person meetings, but continue to livestream them. I often speak at different PostgeSQL conferences, and I am often invited to be a part of the talk selection committees. My GitHub is another way to stay engaged with the PostgreSQL community. The contribution I am most proud of is postgres_air - the world-largest publicly available open-source database which can be used for all kinds of training and testing.

Have you enjoyed previous PostgreSQL Europe conferences, either as an attendee or as a speaker?

I only recently started to attend European conferences, and I enjoy it a lot. In 2022, I spoke at Nordic PGDay, PGDay Austria and PGConf.EU, and I also attended PGDay Paris 2022. I hope to continue participating in PostgreSQL Europe conferences, as much as my job and my schedule will allow.

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

The topic of my talk is “PostgreSQL and Software Engineers,” which is about mutual frustrations occurring when database professionals interact with software developers while working on projects. We always have a long list of complaints about the quality of queries and overall suboptimal usage of PostgreSQL by application developers, but we rarely listen to their part of the story. Meanwhile, app developers struggle to integrate database development into their overall development process smoothly. At the same time, a very small portion of what is available in PostgreSQL is actively used. In my talk, I discuss what can be done to make PostgreSQL more of an engineering tool and facilitate the adoption of the features which remain dormant.

What is the audience for your talk?

Database developers and DBAs who frequently interact with application developers are the primary target audience for my talk. However, I hope to get some attention from people who are adding new features to PostgreSQL. In addition to “teaching the right things,” I have a long list of suggestions for what features should be added to PostgreSQL.

What existing knowledge should the attendee have?

I do not think any prior knowledge is required, although some prior experience of being on the projects with application developers would be nice.

What is the one feature in PostgreSQL 15 which you like most?

By far most favorite is the removing the ability of PUBLIC to create objects in the PUBLIC schema! Creating read-only and read-write users is not enough to shepherd people away from using a superuser for all their needs, unless we provide stronger checks (which is one of the topics discussed in my talk).

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

As always, I want to be everywhere and see everything! When a one-day conference has more than one tracks, it becomes especially challenging to decide where to go.

I can start from saying that Francesco Tricot's talk will be at the same time as mine, and I would love to hear his!

Two pairs of talks happening at the same time and me wanting to attend both include Laeticia Avrot's Upgrade talk and David Christensen's Scaling talk as well as Magali Milbergue Talkception running in parallel with Boriss Mejias's Bloat monitoring talk. In short, I don’t know what I am going to do!

Which measure, action, feature or activity would - in your eyes - help to accelerate the adoption of PostgreSQL?

We still need to do more talking, more convincing and more evangelising. But an important thing is what exactly we say about PostgreSQL. We often show the numbers which state that PostgreSQL can beat MongoDB and many other systems in performance. Then, new PostgreSQL users feel disappointed when their system performs worse on PostgreSQL than it used to on Oracle. We should not create expectations that “the same code” can run on PostgreSQL without any alterations, instead we should educate users about differences and unique strengths of PostgreSQL.

What PostgreSQL event in 2023 you are most excited about?

Once agan, how one can be not excited about any of the PostgreSQL events?! However, the one that is especially meaningful for me is definitely PGDay Chicago 2023 on April 20th! I worked for at least seven years on making it happen, and I almost can’t believe that my dream became reality. I hope to see a lot of my old friends and colleagues as well as new faces in our great Windy City! The Early Bird registration is now open.