Monday, April 01, 2013

Confronting The Big Issues

In the last few years, PostgreSQL has added a number of impressive new features, such as built-in replication (both synchronous and asynchronous), SQL/MED foreign tables (which, in the forthcoming 9.3 release, will also support writes), per-column collation support and in-place upgrade.  There are have also been so fairly major performance improvements and a host of new smaller features.  While all of this progress is impressive, it is clear that too little time and energy has been spent confronting the project's biggest weakness: its unpronounceable name.

As Wikipedia helpfully explains, PostgreSQL's ancestor was the INGRES project of the University of California at Berkeley.  INGRES stands for "interactive graphics retrieval system", but hackers like plays on words, so after a decent amount of hacking on that code had been done, some wit thought it would be a fine idea to replace the prefix "in" with "post", to connote that the project had gone beyond Ingres.  Furthermore, since the system was modified to support SQL, some other wit decided it would be a good idea to replace the last syllable (but only half of it) with the name of the query language it now supported.  Fortunately, we're moving away from that, but that's how we ended up the name PostgreSQL which, as you can now understand, stands for "beyond the graphics retrieval structured query language".