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April 8, 2021

What Is PostgreSQL?

Open Source

With a wide array of open source database choices available, finding a database that perfectly fits your needs can be a challenging decision. For those considering an object-relational database, PostgreSQL has proven to be a popular option.

In this article, we give an overview of PostgreSQL, how it works, and explore its benefits and shortcomings as an open source database.

What Is PostgreSQL?

PostgreSQL, or Postgres, is a popular open source, object-relational database capable of ACID transactions.

Being an object-relational database, PostgreSQL offers features found in proprietary databases and even adds enhancements to make it a more enticing choice. Compared to other databases on the market, PostgreSQL sells itself as an advanced and feature rich product that originally might not have been as fast as some competitors but was capable of handling larger amounts of data gracefully and with better concurrency.

Is PostgreSQL Open Source?

PostgreSQL is an open source data base using the Portions Copyright, a license similar to the BSD and MIT license.

This license allows users to do anything with the code, provided you do not hold them legally liable for problems with the software. For full details on the open source license for PostgreSQL, visit their official wiki page.

Is PostgreSQL a Relational Database?

PostgreSQL is an object-relational database, or ORD. ORDs are capable of interacting with data between both relational and object-oriented databases.

Traditionally, data base management systems consisted of a collection of named relations that possessed attributes of a specific type. Those types include integers, character strings, floating point numbers, dates, and currency. PostgreSQL provides additional tools by incorporating classes, inheritance, functions and types. In addition, it also makes use of constraints, triggers, rules and transaction integrity.

What Is PostgreSQL Used For?

PostgreSQL is typically used for applications or systems that require atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability in their data structures, and can accommodate more complex data structures than typical relational databases.

Five Benefits of PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL has a number of benefits. But these five benefits are top reasons why so many people use PostgreSQL.

1. Active and Diverse Community

As an open source database management system, PostgreSQL enjoys the robustness of a large global community of users that work around the clock developing the package and tools to go with it.

2. ACID Support

Short for atomicity, consistency, isolation, durability. Known as a set of properties relating to database transactions intended to guarantee data validity even with things like errors, power failures and other incidents.

3. Full Text Search

Full text search means users can search for strings with execution of vector operation and other string searches.

4. Fast Data Processing

PostgreSQL offers fast data processing and support for native ANSI SQL language syntax, which makes for easier maintenance and scalability.

5. Support for B-Trees, Genetic Algorithms, and GIN Indexes

With support for B-Trees, Genetic Algorithms, and GIN Indexes, PostgreSQL can further accelerate the previously-mentioned full-text searches.

Potential Drawbacks to PostgreSQL

While feature rich and robust, there are a few downsides to PostgreSQL that can make other databases a better choice.

1. Not the Fastest

While it boasts fast performance, there are other data bases which perform slightly faster. Some also argue that the object orientation of the database could be extended.

2. Hard to Work With Methods

Working with methods in PostgreSQL can be a pain. It would be desirable if users could attach methods more easily to tables, making them more like classes.

3. Complicated Replication and Installation

PostgreSQL can make replication more complex than it needs to be and that installation is not necessarily easy for anyone starting out with the product.

Final Thoughts

Every open source database has its pros and cons. PostgreSQL’s extensibility, vibrant community, ACID transaction support, and open source status make it a popular choice among relational and object-relational databases. But PostgreSQL also isn’t a one-size-fits-all database. It’s not going to be a fit for every project, just like RDBMS aren’t typically the right choice for horizontal scaling.

In the end, finding the right database is wholly dependent on your application or system needs.

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