PostgreSQL is both a powerful open source database system and a very flexible application platform.
“PostgreSQL allows you to write stored procedures and functions in several programming languages, and the architecture allows you the flexibility to support more languages,” this book’s two authors point out.
Indeed: “You can have functions written in several different languages participating in one query.”
Release 9.2 of PostgreSQL hit the web Sept. 10, 2012. Regina Obe’s and Leo Hsu’s fine, 145-page introduction to PostgreSQL focuses on Release 9.1, but describes major 9.2 features, too. And their book definitely can be used to get you up and running. It describes “the unique features of PostgreSQL that make it stand apart from other databases…”, and shows “how to use these features to solve real world problems.”
PostgreSQL is not for every database user, the writers emphasize. “PostgreSQL was designed from the ground up to be a server-side database. Many people do use it on the desktop similarly to how they use SQL Server Express or Oracle, but just like those, it cares about security management and doesn’t leave this up to the application connecting to it. As such, it’s not ideal as an imbeddable database, like SQLite or Firebird.”
It also “does a lot and a lot can be daunting,” they concede. “It’s not a dumb data store; it’s a smart elephant. If all you need is a key value store or you expect your database to just sit there and hold stuff, it’s probably overkill for your needs.”
But after years of using PostgreSQL, the two writers remain unabashed fans. “Each update,” they state in their book, “treats us to new features, eases usability, brings improvements in speed, and pushes the envelope of what is possible with a database. In the end, you will wonder why you ever used any other relational database, when PostgreSQL does everything you could hope for—and does it for free.”
By the way, users of PostgreSQL 8.3 or older need to upgrade ASAP, Regina Obe and Leo Hsu urge. Release 8.3 “will be reaching end-of-life in early 2013,” making support increasingly difficult and expensive.
– Si Dunn