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State of Postgres 2021 Survey Results

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Survey methodology

Timescale, the company behind the leading relational database for time-series TimescaleDB, created and distributed the State of PostgreSQL 2021 survey. The survey ran for four weeks, between March 15, 2021 and April 16, 2021.

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Key findings

Here are a few of the top takeaways from the 2021 survey results.

Postgres usage in the workplace continues to grow

52% of respondents’ companies are using Postgres more (or a lot more) than one year ago. Of the 93.5% of respondents who use Postgres at work, 78.6% also reported using Postgres for personal projects.

Small but mighty: of those who use Postgres at work, respondents reported working in smaller companies (< 100 people) and teams (< 20 people).

View full question
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Use cases

App development is the most common use case for professional and personal use, beating out dashboarding, monitoring, DevOps, IoT applications, and others.

View full question
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Events

32.4% of respondents reported attending at least 1 virtual event within the last year – and the majority rated their experience as average or above-average.

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Community

How do you refer to Postgres?

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In addition to our official survey, we took this question to Twitter and ran a live poll for 48 hours (from the @TimescaleDB Twitter handle). The final results came out very close to the official survey numbers.

Why Postgres?

Reliability ranks as the #1 reason people chose Postgres, followed by SQL at #2.

View full question
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Contributions

While the Postgres community is growing, the database is more popular than ever, and includes people of various backgrounds, ages, and experience levels, 85% of respondents haven't contributed to the Postgres codebase, docs, or commitfests.

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Community members & experiences

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Geography

Consistent with the 2019 survey, EMEA accounts for roughly half of all respondents, followed by North America at 26.3%.

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How many years have you been working as a developer?

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How long have you been using Postgres?

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How did you first find out about Postgres?

More than ⅓ of respondents (36.6%) first learned about Postgres at work or from a colleague.

The majority of respondents who selected “Other” answered they don’t remember as their follow-up.

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What is the main reason you chose to use Postgres over other options?

In both 2019 and 2021 surveys, reliability ranks as the #1 reason people chose Postgres (20.4% in 2021), followed by SQL (16.4% in 2021), at #2.

Of the 5.6% of respondents that selected “Other”, additional reasons were “all of the above,” PostGIS, ACID, extended features, and cost.

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Note: The 2019 survey allowed respondents to select as many options as desired, while in 2021, we restricted this to one option.

✨ Reliability, documentation, community, and ecosystem were big themes in the “What’s the best thing about the Postgres community?” freeform bonus question.

How would you rate your first experience with Postgres?

Over 70% of respondents would rate their first experience with Postgres as above average. (This may come as no surprise, given Postgres is one of the most loved databases in Stack Overflow's 2020 Developer Survey.)

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Have you ever contributed to Postgres?

While the Postgres community is growing, the database is more popular than ever, and community members’ widely range in age and experience, 85% of respondents haven't contributed to PG codebase, docs, or commitfests.

Resource: PostgreSQL guidelines for contributing

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✨ A few respondents shed light on ways for the community to increase contributions in the “What would make the community more welcoming?” freeform bonus question:

Work

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What is your current job title (or most accurately fits your job description?)

Software Developer or Engineer (41.6%), Software Architect (12.8%), and Database Administrator (9.9%) were the top 3 job titles. Of the 13% who selected 'Other', respondents' titles ranged from researcher and consultant to product manager, Director of IT, and machine learning engineer. View 2021 raw data for a closer look.

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How many total employees are there in your organization?

47.1% respondents work in organizations with 50 or fewer employees.

Small, but mighty: of those who use Postgres at work, respondents reported working in smaller companies (100 or fewer people) and teams (20 or fewer people).

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Note: This question was only shown to respondents who use Postgres at work

How big is your team?

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Note: This question was only shown to respondents who use Postgres at work

Compared to one year ago, is Postgres being used more or less in your organization?

42.9% say Postgres is being used “about the same” followed by 38.8% who report using Postgres “more” at work – while a mere 5% report Postgres is used less (or a lot less) in their workplace.

Overall, Postgres doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon – especially within smaller organizations.

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Use Cases

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Do you use Postgres at work?

93.5% of all respondents use Postgres for work.

Over 70% of all respondents report using Postgres for professional and personal projects.

Between 5-6% of all respondents said they use Postgres for personal projects, but not for work.

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Which best describes the industry your organization is in?

36.5% of respondents work in Software/SaaS. 11.1% of respondents work in Finance/Crypto/Fintech.

The top two industries were the same in 2019 and 2021, while IoT edged out education for the #3 spot (education and IoT were tied for #3 at 7% in 2019 results).

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Note: This question was only shown to respondents who use Postgres at work

How would you classify your professional use case?

2021 top 5 results mirror 2019 top 5 responses, with minor fluctuations.

Note: In 2021, we added gaming, finance, SaaS metrics, and web analytics use cases. 0% of respondents reported gaming as their professional use case.

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Note: This question was only shown to respondents who use Postgres at work and respondents could choose as many options as desired

Do you use Postgres for personal projects?

Postgres isn’t used just for work – 79.3% of respondents said they use Postgres for personal projects.

App development (59.2%) is the most common use case for 2021 Postgres personal projects. 38% of respondents said they use Postgres for app development for both work and personal projects.

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How would you classify your personal use case?

In personal use cases, the top 5 responses closely mirror professional use cases except “other” replaces real-time analytics in the #4 spot.

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Note: This question was only shown to respondents who said they use Postgres for personal projects.

Community & Events

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How would you rate your ability to connect with the community?

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In the past year, what type of Postgres virtual events have you attended?

Majority of respondents (67.6%) said they have not attended any virtual events within the past year. Given the COVID-19 pandemic and the near-immediate shift to remote culture, “events” underwent a massive transformation, from cancellations to shifting to virtual-only events.

Congrats 👏 to virtual event organizers - of the community members who did attend virtual events, the majority had an above-average experience.

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How would you rate your experience with these events overall?

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Which virtual events would you recommend friends and colleagues to attend?

Of the respondents who’ve attended some type for Postgres event in the past year, their top “recommended” events (in order of frequency): PGConf, FOSDEM, PostGIS Day, Postgres Vision, PG Meetups, FOSS4G, and Postgres Build. View 2021 raw data for a closer look.

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Note: Respondents provided freeform recommendations, and many simply said “Pg Conf,” but a few called out specific locales: PgConf.EU, PgConf.Russia, PGConf Brazil, PGConf India.

What is the best thing about the Postgres community / what do you like the most?

Over 175 respondents shared one or more aspects of the community that they like the most.

Documentation quality, community helpfulness and commitment to open-source, and volume of available resources were common themes.

We’ve included an assortment of responses below. View 2021 raw data for a closer look.

👋

“The strong desire to do things properly and openness to all sorts of critique to improve.”

✏️

“Excellent documentation, focus on code quality & reliability, focus on ongoing steady improvement over flashy marketing.”

🧑‍🔧

“Everyone is very accessible and knowledgeable. It's easy to find someone who can solve an issue.”

“Attention to standards and correctness.”

🙌

“Usually there is already a solution somewhere.”

💬

“The quality of Stack Overflow answers is much better than for most technologies.”

🤝

“Knowledgeable, helpful, friendly, and respectful help on the mailing lists. Meritocracy of decision making and planning of features. Appreciably transparent core team dialogue for the releases and major decisions.”

💯

“Dedication to PostgreSQL as a public good over the long haul.”

What is the most challenging thing about the Postgres community/what do you like the least?

Over 120 respondents provided one or more aspects of the community where they see challenges or room for improvement, and we’ve included an assortment below. View 2021 raw data for a closer look.

💻

“First code contribution can be traumatic... sometimes we're not very welcome with new developers. We should improve it a lot!!!”

💡

“Too much fragmentation, the lack of a community endorsed professional certification.”

🙋‍♂️

“There is less focus on providing modern development infrastructure (a bugtracker, issue system, CI/CD, community group chats that are mobile friendly), and, IMO as a result, that diminishes the number of new contributors.”

✉️

“Code should be migrated to GitHub or GitLab. The community should use a proper ticker tracker like any other project does and drop the old school mailing lists progressively, or use them only for announcements purposes.”

Note: We realize that we could have worded this question differently. In the future, we'll use "Where do you see room for improvement in the Postgres community?"

We asked respondents what would make the Postgres community better and/or more welcoming to newcomers.

In addition to respondents who said the community is welcoming already, nearly 100 provided suggestions. We've included a few below. View 2021 raw data for a closer look.

📝

“Write the docs assuming the user does not have a degree in CS, provide a library of examples - some generic and some specific to verticals and tasks.”

🔎

“Better visibility that there is a community other than those who submit and approve pull requests.”

📹

“Engage in more modern ways: Discord, YouTube, etc. Really embrace beginners, supporting them both with learning materials and a place to ask questions.”

📖

“The community has a lot of infrastructure but in terms of information architecture (i.e. library sciences type stuff) it seems to have grown organically, and that makes it hard for newcomers to get their bearings... It'd be good to think through that holistically, and to try to define and streamline common paths through it all.”

In addition to asking respondents about event recommendations and code contributions earlier in the survey, we asked how else they engage or interact with the Postgres community.

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Ecosystem & Tools

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What are your top 3 favorite or most frequently used Postgres extension(s)?

74% (331/445) respondents shared extensions. We asked for the top 3, but some respondents went above and beyond. We’ve summarized the top 10, listed in order of frequency.

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Note: Respondents were asked to list their 3 favorite or most frequently used Postgres extensions(s) before seeing the list of extensions below. (We wanted to see what people would include unprompted.)

Which of the below Postgres extensions are you familiar with?

We surveyed TimescaleDB community members to curate this list to narrow down the 20K+ Postgres extensions. (See our Top 5 PostgreSQL extensions blog post for details.)

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Note: Respondents could select as many options as desired.

What languages do you most frequently use to access Postgres?

SQL, Python, and Java were cited as the most commonly used languages to access Postgres, with JavaScript / TypeScript and Shell tied for 4th.

“Other” responses included: PHP, Perl, Elixir, R, Scala, Kotlin, Haskell, and a handful of others. Of the 11.5% of respondents (51 respondents) that selected “Other,” 23.5% (12) said they frequently use PHP.

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Note: Respondents could select as many options as desired.

What database tools/GUIs do you most frequently use with Postgres?

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Note: Respondents could select as many options as desired.

How do you deploy Postgres?

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Note: Respondents could select as many options as desired.

What CLI tool do you most frequently use with Postgres?

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Note: Respondents could select as many options as desired.

Which of these SQL features do you use in your production apps?

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Note: Respondents could select as many options as desired.

Which of these features have you used to organize and access data for your production apps?

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Note: Respondents could select as many options as desired.

What automated failover solutions do you use?

68% of respondents said they don’t use any automated failover solutions – but of those who do use one, Patroni was the most common response.

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Note: Respondents could select as many options as desired.

What cloud provider(s) do you use?

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Note: Respondents could select as many options as desired.

Which visualization tools do you use?

While 25% of respondents do not use visualization tools, of those who do, their top answers are all open-source tools vs. proprietary options.

Of those who selected “Other,” Redash, Superset, and QGIS were the most common choices.

✨ Fun fact: Sven Klemm - Timescale engineer - originally wrote the Postgres data source for Grafana.

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Note: Respondents could select as many options as desired.

Do you currently use or have you used any of the following NoSQL databases?

Over 54% of respondents report using Redis, with Elasticsearch and MongoDB rounding out the top 3.

Elasticsearch edged out MongoDB for the #2 spot (42.2% in 2021 vs. 39.2% in 2019).

MongoDB was a close 3rd (38% in 2021 vs. 40.6% in 2019).

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Note: Respondents could select as many options as desired.

Have you migrated from a NoSQL database to Postgres or from Postgres to a NoSQL database and why?

Of the nearly 200 people who answered this question, less than ½ have migrated from NoSQL to SQL. Of those who have migrated, they most frequently came to Postgres from MongoDB. Many respondents cited that they use both– and others replied that they always use Postgres first, so this hasn’t been an option. We've included an assortment of migration reasons below. View 2021 raw data for a closer look.

🌎

“NoSQL -> Postgres. Because the world is relational.”

✍️

“NoSQL to Postgres to have better software. Prevent errors while accessing data. Types. Community. Documentation.”

🖥️

“Postgres does everything. Occasionally some subset of functionality is worth breaking out during the course of normal development, like event queuing.”

📈

“From NoSQL to SQL. Performance is on par for the use cases, and we could leverage other technologies (Django) and a more consistent schema to visualize via Metabase.

🧰

“About 5 years ago. Tried MongoDB for a new project, regretted the choice, moved to PostgreSQL, which we already knew and used. Better reliability, better tooling, better ecosystem (client libraries etc.).”

Have you migrated to Postgres from another relational database & why?

Of the nearly 200 people who answered this question, over half reported migrating between relational databases. MySQL and Oracle were the two most commonly cited systems, and licensing and costs were two big reasons.

We’ve included an assortment of migration reasons below. View 2021 raw data for a closer look.

📏

“From MySQL to Postgres for more advanced features and stricter adherence to the SQL standard.”

🛠️

“From MySQL and Oracle and SQL Server, for licensing, reliability, performance, ease of setup & maintenance.”

📌

“From MySQL. Better JSON(B) support, transactional DDL, and null safety (no silent conversion of null to 0 in "int not null" columns).”

🔑

“I find Postgres the most reliable. Constraint implementation such as foreign keys have always been there, helping ensure data integrity.”

🔍

“From Oracle SQL, to have a more available, easier to reach copy (and to decrease licensing costs)”

Thanks for reading!

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