Speaker photo for Tobias Bussmann

Interview with Tobias Bussmann


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Could you briefly introduce yourself?

I’m Tobias Bussmann, a long time PostgreSQL user from Germany, living in Switzerland and working as a Software Engineer for the Swiss Academy of Sciences.

How do you engage with the PostgreSQL Community?

The more I got into PostgreSQL, the more I engaged with the Community. Currently I’m serving as the treasurer of the Swiss PostgreSQL Users Group, helping with conference organization (mainly Swiss PGDay) and with maintaining Postgres.app, an easy to use software package for macOS.

Have you enjoyed previous PostgreSQL Europe conferences, either as an attendee or as a speaker? (PGConf.EU, FOSDEM PGDay, Nordic PGDay, pgDay Paris, PGConf.DE)

I attended my first PGConf.EU in Stuttgart in 2010 and haven’t missed a single one since then. After having participated for many years, I have recently started to include more local events in my agenda and to give talks myself.

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

I will talk about the management and use of sorting rules and character classification as an important step towards application localisation. At the same time, I will show the risks that unstable sorting rules cause when operating system libraries are updated.

This topic caught my attention when I noticed that the macOS libc provides a dysfunctional implementation of sorting. However, the talk and topic is not specific to certain operating systems.

What is the audience for your talk?

People dealing with textual data in non-English language. While developers can make use of the features, DBAs should be aware of the risks. And those who don’t care, should at least make this explicit.

What existing knowledge should the attendee have?

The alphabet as it is learnt in primary school. The realisation that this simple knowledge differs from culture to culture should be enough to grasp the subject. All the better if you are interested in encodings or linguistics or are curious why your name was mangled in the last newsletter you received.

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

Until recently I would have said ‘SQL/JSON’—let’s hope it doesn’t take as long to return as it did with ‘MERGE’. For obvious reasons, my next favourite is ‘ICU as default collation provider’.

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

As always, there are many exciting topics and it is often difficult to decide on a single session per time slot. But I think I value the “hallway track” and the opportunity to communicate directly with members of the community the most.

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

Spreading the word about the power of ‘raw’ SQL and its modern features. As soon as developers begin to demand something more from the database, they learn to appreciate PostgreSQL.