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How to Learn PostgreSQL

Kumar Harsh - February 01, 2021


PostgreSQL is an open-source relational database management system developed by a worldwide team of volunteers. No single corporation or private entity controls PostgreSQL and its source code is available free of charge.

PostgreSQL is one of the oldest relational database management systems, with its first version dating back to 1997. A relational database management system facilitates storage of data in the form of inter-related tables. PostgreSQL has turned out to be a very reliable solution, owing to the simplicity in maintenance, which can be easily decentralized across multiple data centers. This is why it finds itself with a great chunk of share in modern production databases. And because of its widespread use, knowledge in PostgreSQL is a must skill to have. Let’s take a look at the various resources that are available to help learn PostgreSQL.

What is PostgreSQL?

PostgreSQL was first released as the Ingres project in 1981 at the University of California. Its name was later changed to Postgres, as it was released after the Ingres project, therefore it became “post-Ingres”. In 1996, the website PostgreSQL.org was launched, which marked two things — new support for the SQL standard as well as the online presence of the solution.

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The first release of the official “PostgreSQL” was made in 1997. Since then, the database system has been continuously developed and improved. The PostgreSQL global development group handles the maintenance of the solution to this date, and new releases are quite frequent.

PostgreSQL offers exceptional performance in terms of a database management solution. It is a highly stable database management system, backed by more than 20 years of community development. It has a rich history for support of advanced data types, and it supports a level of performance optimization that is common across its commercial counterparts like Oracle and SQL Server.

What is PostgreSQL used for?

PostgreSQL has grown to become a popular choice when provisioning remote databases. Before we set down to learn the tool, let’s explore some of its use cases:

General Purpose Database

PostgreSQL can handle general functions quite well. Start-ups and large enterprises prefer using PostgreSQL as their primary data storage solution. PostgreSQL has great support for real-time operations, as well as scales pretty well when used in production environments.

LAPP Open Source Stack

LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Python/Perl) has been a very popular stack over the years. With the introduction of PostgreSQL, a new variant called LAPP (Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL, and PHP/Python/Perl) has been introduced. This helps create reliable, dynamic websites faster.

Geospatial database

PostgreSQL supports an extension called PostGIS. With PostGIS, geographical objects can be stored easily, and the database can be used as a geospatial data store for location-based services and geographic information systems (GIS).

This means that with PostgreSQL,you can easily create databases that store location-related data. This can support apps that allow real-time location sharing, or those that use location as an important object in their business logic. Not many database management solutions support location-based data storage, and out of all those that do, PostgreSQL comes out on top.

Federated Hub Database

PostgreSQL works great with other database management solutions. Features like Foreign Data Wrappers and JSON support allow it to link with other data stores and act as a federal hub for multi-language database systems.

Scientific Data Handling

Scientific data requires processing terabytes of data to infer results. Storing data of this scale is an extensive task in itself. PostgreSQL has proved itself over the years as a reliable, robust solution for storing such a large amount of data, and hence is the perfect fit for this scenario.

Learning PostgreSQL

Given that PostgreSQL is a robust database management solution, it is important to have it as one of your primary skills if you are planning to become a LAMP/LAPP stack developer. Following is a list of resources to help you get started.

The Best PostgreSQL Resources

As PostgreSQL is an open-source tool, a lot of people have tried to create content that can help you easily get started. First of all, let’s take a look at the free and paid video courses that are available for PostgreSQL:

Learn PostgreSQL tutorial

  • Platform: Youtube
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Price: Free
  • Prerequisites: none
  • Start Date: On-Demand

With over 600,000 views and 13,000 likes, the Learn PostgreSQL tutorial by freecodecamp beats every other course fair and square.

Courses from freecodecamp are fun to take — they contain ample content and they are ad-free, which means that teaching well is one of the top priorities of freecodecamp.org. If you’re willing to take your first step in the world of PostgreSQL, it will be advisable, to begin with, this course.

SQL & PostgreSQL for Beginners: Become an SQL Expert

With a 4.5-star rating by nearly 3,000 students at the time of writing this article, this course stands out from the crowd. As it is on-demand, it makes up the best possible video resource for amateurs who are looking for a course to build upon their basics.

Learn SQL Using PostgreSQL: From Zero to Hero

Once you have some idea of how PostgreSQL works and how you can set it up on your system, this course will be beneficial for you. The coupled content on Python along with PostgreSQL opens up the possibility of learning an entire stack together, rather than just one technology.

Rated 4.6-stars by over 600 learners, the course has been observed to form a growing trend. It covers PostgreSQL in detail, and also introduces Python concepts which make it a perfect starting point in case you want to quickly get started with web development.

PostgreSQL Books

Apart from video courses, many books are available to help you get started with PostgreSQL. Some top ones include:

Mastering PostgreSQL 13 – Fourth Edition by Hans-Jürgen Schönig

Mastering PostgreSQL 13: Fourth Edition book cover

Priced around $25 at the moment ( check the latest price here ), Mastering PostgreSQL 13 is one of the top PostgreSQL courses, recommended by postgresql.org themselves! Starting from the very basics of databases, this book will take you on a gradual learning adventure, and cover advanced features like performance tuning and monitoring.

Learn PostgreSQL by Luca Ferrari and Enrico Pirozzi

Learn PostgreSQL book cover

Priced about $25 at the moment ( check the latest price here ), this is another book from the recommendations of postgresql.org. This book puts extra effort in the beginning, and unlike other books, it does not skim through the beginner stuff to get started with PostgreSQL; rather it focuses on understanding the fundamental concept of database management before taking any further steps.

PostgreSQL Resources

Apart from the video courses and books, there are also a great number of tutorials available around the internet. Here are some great pieces to begin with:

PostgreSQL Tutorial by postgresqltutorial.com

With ample coverage of all topics involved in PostgreSQL, this tutorial stands as a strong starting point for beginners. The length and depth of the content offered in this tutorial is unmatched. It also mentions a list of advanced tutorials to take up after completing this one, thereby serving as a one-stop solution for your PostgreSQL learning journey.

PostgreSQL Tutorial by TutorialsPoint

Instead of laying out in the form of a series of consecutive chapters, this tutorial is arranged as a glossary of important topics. It covers most of the basic topics in PostgreSQL, and is a good resource to refer to once you have had an initial understanding of the subject.

How Long Does it Take to Learn PostgreSQL?

Given that PostgreSQL is a strong solution, and is based on SQL language, it usually takes about four weeks to get a good start in PostgreSQL. Rigorous practice, aided with real-time projects for a duration of another four weeks is bound to make the basics pretty clear in your mind, thereby allowing you to unleash the full potential of this solution.

Should you Study PostgreSQL?

After compiling a great list of courses and content on PostgreSQL, we are now faced with the most important question of all: should you learn PostgreSQL? The answer to this is simple: if you are willing to work on projects built using LAMP/LAPP stack, PostgreSQL is a must. This will not only provide you with a great understanding of SQL, but it will also help you understand and build a robust data store.

If you’re planning to learn SQL, it will be great to start with a course/resource that teaches SQL using PostgreSQL. This way, you will have a solid foundation in SQL as well as the PostgreSQL ecosystem.

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Kumar Harsh

About the author: Kumar is a young technical writer, covering topics like JavaScript, Python, Ruby and Web Performance. He is currently working towards a bachelors degree in Computer Science and Engineering at National Institute of Technology Patna. Along with writing, he has also worked in software development roles with several start-ups and corporations alike. He joined the Career Karma team in January 2021.

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