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Grist is a lot like Airtable, but open source and more customizable

In their own words:

Grist is a modern relational spreadsheet. It combines the flexibility of a spreadsheet with the robustness of a database to organize your data and make you more productive.

Since so many people make the Airtable comparison that I did in the headline, the team behind Grist has written up a comparison of the two offerings.


Yes, I can connect to a DB in CSS

Just wow. This is an impressively hacky hack. You’re probably wondering how? As many such things do, it all starts with a new (Chrome-only) API:

A new set of APIs affectionately known as Houdini give your browser the power to control CSS via its own Object Model in Javascript. In English, this means that you can make custom CSS styles, add custom properties, and so on…

And it ends with something that looks like this:

main {
  // ...
  --sql-query: SELECT name FROM test;


PRQL – a modern language for transforming data

PRQL (pronounced “Prequel”) aims to be “a simpler and more powerful SQL”

Like SQL, it’s readable, explicit and declarative. Unlike SQL, it forms a logical pipeline of transformations, and supports abstractions such as variables and functions. It can be used with any database that uses SQL, since it transpiles to SQL.

To get an idea on PRQL’s design, they provide this SQL statement as an example:

    AVG(salary) AS average_salary,
    SUM(salary) AS sum_salary,
    AVG(salary + payroll_tax) AS average_gross_salary,
    SUM(salary + payroll_tax) AS sum_gross_salary,
    AVG(salary + payroll_tax + benefits_cost) AS average_gross_cost,
    SUM(salary + payroll_tax + benefits_cost) AS sum_gross_cost,
    COUNT(*) as count
FROM employees
WHERE salary + payroll_tax + benefits_cost > 0 AND country = 'USA'
GROUP BY title, country
ORDER BY sum_gross_cost
HAVING count > 200

And then translate it to PRQL, which looks like:

from employees
filter country = "USA"                           # Each line transforms the previous result.
let gross_salary = salary + payroll_tax          # This _adds_ a column / variable.
let gross_cost   = gross_salary + benefits_cost  # Variables can use other variables.
filter gross_cost > 0
aggregate by:[title, country] [                  # `by` are the columns to group by.
    average salary,                              # These are the calcs to run on the groups.
    sum     salary,
    average gross_salary,
    sum     gross_salary,
    average gross_cost,
    sum     gross_cost,
sort sum_gross_cost                              # Uses the auto-generated column name.
filter count > 200
take 20

The Changelog The Changelog #476

Supabase is all in on Postgres

This week Paul Copplestone, CEO of Supabase joined us to catch us up on the next big thing happening in the world of Postgres. Supabase might be best known as “the open source Firebase alternative,” a tagline they might be reluctant to maintain. But from Adam’s perspective, he’s never been more excited about what they’re bringing to market for Postgres fans. In the last year, Supabase has gone from 0 to more than 80,000 databases on their platform — and they’re still in beta…and it’s open source. Hopefully today’s show sheds some light on why everyone is talking about Supabase.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #85

Making the last database you’ll ever need

This week Adam is joined by Sam Lambert, CEO of PlanetScale. Now that PlanetScale is in general availability, Adam had to get Sam on the show to talk about the behind the scenes of building this database platform, how this is the last database you’ll ever need and what that means for developers, why serverless, its open source underpinnings with Vitess, and a preview of what’s to come.


Simple, zero-fuss docker database backups

Back in the olden days, I would just put a mysqldump > dump.sql in a crontab and called it a day. When I started to host more and more stuff with docker, I first just migrated that approach to docker and put it all in a container. That still required me to mess around with config files. Once I started to host postgres containers it all got even more complicated. Thus, I needed a new solution.

I built this tool to make backups easy: Simply point it to a host running docker containers and it will automatically inspect and find all mysql/mariadb and postgres containers and do backups of them on a schedule. No configuration required, it “just works”.


A collaborative IDE for your databases, right in your browser

Slashbase is an open-source collaborative IDE for your databases in your browser. Connect to your database, browse data, run a bunch of SQL commands or share SQL queries with your team, right from your browser!

It’s written in Golang and Nextjs React Framework (SPA) and runs as a single Linux binary with PostgreSQL. Documentation is currently WIP.

It’s early days and security will be a major concern to get right, but this has a lot of potential to unlock some cool use cases.

Simon Eskildsen

Careful trading complexity for 'improvements'

Simon Eskildsen (of napkin math) shares a word of warning about one possible decision-making trap:

Whenever you find yourself arguing for improving infrastructure by yanking up complexity, you need to be very careful.

He applies this thinking to a common technical proposal of switching from a general-purpose RDBMS to a specialty database to account for growth and scale.

I’m a proponent of mastering and abusing existing tools, rather than chasing greener pastures. The more facility you gain with first-principle reasoning and napkin math, the closer I’d wager you’ll inch towards this conclusion as well. A new system theoretically having better guarantees is not enough of an argument. Adding a new system to your stack is a huge deal and difficult to undo.


A terrible schema from a clueless programmer

Rachel by the Bay:

There’s a post going around tonight about how someone forgot to put an index on some database thing and wound up doing full table scans (or something like that). The rub is that instead of just being slow, it also cost a fair amount of money because this crazy vendor system charged by the row or somesuch. So, by scanning the whole table, they touched all of those rows, and oh hey, massive amounts of money just set ablaze!

The usual venues are discussing it, and I get the impression some people have the wrong approach to this. I want to describe a truly bad database schema I encountered, and then tell you a little about what it did to the system performance.

A fun story with an excellent twist at the end.


ClickHouse vs TimescaleDB

Two up-and-coming database options compared:

Recently, TimescaleDB published a blog comparing ClickHouse & TimescaleDB using timescale/tsbs, a timeseries benchmarking framework. I have some experience with PostgreSQL and ClickHouse but never got the chance to play with TimescaleDB. Some of the claims about TimescaleDB made in their post are very bold, that made me even more curious. I thought it’d be a great opportunity to try it out and see if those claims are really true.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #82

Journey to CEO, again

Today Adam is joined by Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData. Evan’s journey to become the CEO was not by way of founder, in this company. Evan has founded several companies in the past, and he’s been in a CEO position for more than 22 years. But InfluxData was founded by Paul Dix, and Paul knew years ago that his role (best role?) was to lead the technical and product direction of the company, which lead him to Evan. Today we share that story as well as a glimpse into operating the business that built the defacto platform for building time series applications with deep roots in open source.


Relational databases aren’t dinosaurs, they’re sharks

I’ve heard way less people throwing SQL under the bus than I did back in the high-hype NoSQL days, but this article by Justin Etheredge does a good job of laying out some of the advantages and disadvantages of the RDBMS side of the fence:

The next time you hear someone describe relational databases as yesterday’s technology, or the next time you see someone assume a relational database can’t handle the needs of their unproven MVP, stop and ask them how they are going to account for the tradeoffs they’re making. Make sure they understand they aren’t skipping a dead dinosaur, they’re taking a pass on the thousands of human-years of effort that have made relational databases the sharks of the data industry.

The Changelog The Changelog #461

Fauna is rethinking the database

This week we’re talking with Evan Weaver about Fauna — the database for a new generation of applications. Fauna is a transactional database delivered as a secure and scalable cloud API with native GraphQL. It’s the first implementation of its kind based on the Calvin paper as opposed to Spanner. We cover Evan’s history leading up to Fauna, deep details on the Calvin algorithm, the CAP theorem for databases, what it means for Fauna to be temporal native, applications well suited for Fauna, and what’s to come in the near future.


Introducing ClickHouse, Inc.

Alexey Milovidov, announcing the formation of a (VC funded) corporation around ClickHouse, an open source analytics DBMS:

Today I’m happy to announce ClickHouse Inc., the new home of ClickHouse. The development team has moved from Yandex and joined ClickHouse Inc. to continue building the fastest (and the greatest) analytical database management system. The company has received nearly $50M in Series A funding led by Index Ventures and Benchmark with participation by Yandex N.V. and others. I created ClickHouse, Inc. with two co-founders, Yury Izrailevsky and Aaron Katz. I will continue to lead the development of ClickHouse as Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Yury will run product and engineering, and Aaron will be CEO.

ClickHouse wasn’t always a business. It also wasn’t always open source.

Making ClickHouse open source was also not an easy decision, but now I see: doing open source is hard, but it is a big win. While it takes a tremendous effort and responsibility to maintain a popular open-source product, for us, the benefits outweigh all the costs. Since we published ClickHouse, it has been deployed in production in thousands of companies across the globe for a wide range of use cases, from agriculture to self-driving cars.


Deploy databases and services easily for dev and testing pipelines

Peanut provides a REST API, Admin Dashboard and a command line tool to deploy and configure the commonly used services like databases, message brokers, graphing, tracing, caching tools … etc. It perfectly suited for development, manual testing, automated testing pipelines where mocking is not possible and test drives.

Under the hood, it works with the containerization runtime like docker to deploy and configure the service. Destroy the service if it is a temporary one.

Technically you can achieve the same with a bunch of yaml files or using a configuration management tool or a package manager like helm but peanut is pretty small and fun to use & should speed up your workflow!

Deploy databases and services easily for dev and testing pipelines


The billion user table

Jon Stokes believes blockchain tech has the opportunity to take us from a world where individual corporations build their siloed users tables to a world where the entire Internet shares a single users table.

In place of a decentralized network of user data silos connected by APIs, there’s a single decentralized user data store accessible via an open protocol and a decentralized network of storage nodes. So the identity-hosting blockchain represents decentralization at the datastore implementation layer, and recentralization at the datastore access layer.

What would this produce? Jon envisions this:

Moving identity on-chain, and thereby removing the possibility of users-table-centric network effects, completely up-ends the entire landscape of API-based, access-controlled interoperability that the present Internet is built on. All of the non-technical market and political dynamics around users table size, leverage, and risk suddenly go out the window.


toyDB – a distributed SQL db written in Rust

This is not a use-it-in-the-real-world kinda thing. It’s being written as a learning project, but may interest you if you want to learn about database internals. It includes:

  • Raft-based distributed consensus engine for linearizable state machine replication.
  • ACID-compliant transaction engine with MVCC-based snapshot isolation.
  • Pluggable storage engine with B+tree and log-structured backends.
  • Iterator-based query engine with heuristic optimization and time-travel support.
  • SQL interface including projections, filters, joins, aggregates, and transactions.


SQLBolt – quickly learn SQL right in your browser

This series of interactive lessons and exercises is a great place to start if you want to learn SQL. And trust me: if you don’t know SQL, you want to learn SQL. Of all the technologies and tools I’ve picked up over the course of my career, SQL has had one of the highest ROIs. It’s portable across languages/runtimes and has incredible staying power in terms of skill relevancy.

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