Just a Theory

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I’m a Postgres Extensions Tembonaut

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New year, new job.

I’m pleased to announce that I started a new job on January 2 at Tembo, a fully-managed PostgreSQL developer platform. Tembo blogged the news, too.

I first heard from Tembo CTO Samay Sharma last summer, when he inquired about the status of PGXN, the PostgreSQL Extension Network, which I built in 2010–11. Tembo bundles extensions into Postgres stacks, which let developers quickly spin up Postgres clusters with tools and features optimized for specific use cases and workloads. The company therefore needs to provide a wide variety of easy-to-install and well-documented extensions to power those use cases. Could PGXN play a role?

I’ve tended to PGXN’s maintenance for the last fourteen years, and thanks in no small part to hosting provided by depesz. As of today’s stats it distributes 376 extensions on behalf of 419 developers. PGXN has been a moderate success, but Samay asked how we could collaborate to build on its precedent to improve the extensions ecosystem overall.

It quickly became apparent that we share a vision for what that ecosystem could become, including:

  • Establishing the canonical Postgres community index of extensions, something PGXN has yet to achieve
  • Improving metadata standards to enable new patterns, such as automated binary packaging
  • Working with the Postgres community to establish documentation standards that encourage developers to provide comprehensive extension docs
  • Designing and building developer tools that empower more developers to build, test, distribute, and maintain extensions

Over the the past decade I’ve have many ideas and discussion on these topics, but seldom had the bandwidth to work on them. In the last couple years I’ve enabled TLS and improved the site display, increased password security, and added a notification queue with hooks that post to both Twitter (RIP @pgxn) and Mastodon (@pgxn@botsin.space). Otherwise, aside from keeping the site going, periodically improving new accounts, and eyeing the latest releases, I’ve had little bandwidth for PGXN or the broader extension ecosystem.

Now, thanks to the vision and strategy of Samay and Tembo CEO Ry Walker, I will focus on these projects full time. The Tembo team have already helped me enumerate the extension ecosystem jobs to be done and the tools required to do them. This week I’ll submit it to collaborators from across the Postgres community1 to fill in the missing parts, make adjustments and improvements, and work up a project plan.

The work also entails determining the degree to which PGXN and other extension registries (e.g., dbdev, trunk, pgxman, pgpm (WIP), etc.) will play a role or provide inspiration, what bits should be adopted, rewritten, or discarded.2 Our goal is to build the foundations for a community-owned extensions ecosystem that people care about and will happily adopt and contribute to.

I’m thrilled to return to this problem space, re-up my participation in the PostgreSQL community, and work with great people to build out the extensions ecosystem for future.

Want to help out or just follow along? Join the #extensions channel on the Postgres Slack. See you there.


  1. Tembo was not the only company whose representatives have reached out in the past year to talk about PGXN and improving extensions. I’ve also had conversations with Supabase, Omnigres, Hydra, and others. ↩︎

  2. Never be afraid to kill your darlings↩︎