Monday 26 March 2012

PostgreSQL Developer Meeting 2012

For the last few years I've organised a by-invitation meeting of the most active developers in the PostgreSQL community the day before PGCon's sessions start in Ottawa. This is undoubtedly the best time of the year to do this as the vast majority of PostgreSQL hackers attend this event - many only attend local events for the rest of the year.

As you can imagine, figuring out how to keep the meeting productive is not an easy task. Opening it up to anyone to attend is not really an option unfortunately, as we would be unlikely to be able to provide a suitable conference room for large numbers of people due to the cost of the space (which really needs to be comfortable as we'll be sitting around a table for nine hours or so) and the food. Budget aside; having too many people in attendance makes it very difficult to have a productive meeting, a problem we believe we had last year when we had our highest number of attendees to date (around 30) and what many felt was our least productive meeting to date.

This year, the Core Team spent quite some time discussing the upcoming meeting and came to the conclusion that we needed to do two things to make the meeting a success again:

1) We need to spend more time fine-tuning the agenda.

We try to leave the agenda up to the attendees - after all, it is their meeting. However, there is a tendency to include items that haven't really been thought through in enough detail in advance to make good discussion points. This year we're working to ensure the agenda contains only items that have had some amount of thought given to them already, but are yet to be resolved. Ideally, we suspect many of these topics will be things that have been discussed on the mailing lists already, but haven't come to any sort of conclusion. That happens from time to time, and face to face discussion often helps reach consensus on the way forward. What we don't want to discuss are the ideas that we all have after a couple of drinks at the pub, scribbled on the back of a beer mat, added to the agenda and then forgotten about. Those ideas are best saved for the evenings of the conference (with more beer)!

2) We need to reduce the number of attendees at the meeting.

This was the really hard one. We decided that we should reduce the number of attendees down from last years 30 to maybe 20 - 25. Two of those people are Josh Berkus and myself who are primarily there to take notes and chair the meeting respectively. The rest of the attendees come from a variety of backgrounds typically - committers, active developers, future (hopefully) active developers, past developers and senior staff from Postgres-friendly companies. This year we decided that the criteria for invitations would be "has this person been a significant contributor to PostgreSQL 9.2"? We've applied that test to all the proposed attendees, and whilst many people who received invitations are amongst the normal crowd, unfortunately it does mean that some people who have attended in the past were not sent invitations this year. If you're one of those people, please accept my apologies - hopefully this blog post will clarify why that is the case.

Of course, it is possible we have overlooked inviting people who have made significant contributions to the upcoming 9.2 release. If you're one of those people, please let me know if you would like to attend.

Regardless of whether or not you'll be at the developer meeting dear readers, I do hope to see you in Ottawa in May.

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