Thoughts on PostgreSQL 9.0 release

Something I wrote for a press contact last month that I wanted to share:

We started the process toward 9.0 last year when we added new committers and invited many new people into the commitfest process (our way of getting lots of patches reviewed, approved and committed every two months). What we’ve found is that we can engage new developers by providing a clear way for them to help in small, well-defined ways.

As a group, we work really hard to recruit and maintain long-term relationships with developers. And that investment in people has paid off really well in 9.0. We have long term commitments from volunteers and independent businesses to implement features that take multiple years to see through to completion. The binary replication is a clear example of that, and we have many other projects underway that are only possible because developers trust our core development team to see them through.

It’s not the most headline-grabbing thing that we do. But it is pretty amazing that a group of people, with no central authority, “benevolent dictator” or business driving it, continue every year to produce a trustworthy, stable and feature-rich database that rivals what’s produced by the best-funded enterprises in the world.

What do you think the best part of the 9.0 release was?

Waffle-induced development

My waffles will probably not look as good as this.

People often ask me for advice on how to motivate and get people excited about coming to meetings, participating in user groups and contributing to projects. I’m going to try to blog more about the things I do that work.

Friends in Portland know that I often use food (and sometimes alcohol) bribes to get them to come over to my house to hang out, and then do work that is best done with a group (recall a major weeding project in my front yard).

We needed a few good folks to help out with the next phase of our Open Conference Ware application, and so I decided to reuse this “get house chores done” trick to hopefully motivate a few hungry developers to work with us on the next phase of the project.

When I sent out the message, I got both an enthusiastic “Hell yes, I’ll come for waffles”, and an “Oh man, I already had plans — which, if they fall through, I will totally be there for the waffles.”

I’m sure that the good people who stepped up to help us would have done so anyway. But, if I can provide a warm breakfast while we hack away on wireframes, why not? And, after I tweeted what we were up to, I got another volunteer!

Image courtesy of rizkapb, Creative Commons 2.0 generic license.