Mono, PostgreSQL, PHP expert
This week, Stephen
Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with the internationally
respected developer and author, Hans-Jurgen Schonig.
Hans is one of the
founding partners of Cybertec Geschwinde & Schonig, an Austrian
company providing commercial services for PostgreSQL, training,
tuning, and remote administration for international clients. His
book credits include: Mono Kick Start, PostgreSQL Developers
Handbook, PHP and PostgreSQL Advanced Web Programming.
Q: Hans, it's a pleasure
having you share your incredible knowledge and experiences with your
A: It's a pleasure for me
to get the chance to talk to you. I was very surprised that somebody
is interested in interviewing me.
Q: Please share your
background and how you got into your present position?
A: To be honest: We had a
great deal of luck and some coincidences have helped us to publish
books. Some years ago we were looking for a database system which
was able to handle dozens of gigs of data. This product should be
Open Source and so we started focusing entirely on PostgreSQL
because it was the only database providing advanced features. We
kept doing and all of a sudden SAMS offered us to write a book.
Well, that's what we have done and that's what we are still doing.
Meanwhile we have written 5 books (3 for SAMS and two for a German
partner of SAMS). To be honest, I am still surprised that all those
books beside me are mine.
Q: What important lessons
(challenges and their solutions) can you share with the audience?
A: In case of trouble
people have to keep doing - that's the most important lesson. Being
persistent is the key to success. But still, people have to be
flexible in order to see and react according to the demands of the
However, being persistent
and flexible is still not enough. You have to feel well because
otherwise it is not possible to achieve someone’s targets. Feeling
happy with the things you are doing is important.
Q: And your company, more
A: Cybertec has been
founded in June 2000. We were the first company in Europe focusing
entirely on PostgreSQL. In the past few years we have dealt with
many customers (see
and it has in most cases been a pleasure.
We are a team consisting
of my colleague Epi, me and some freelancer. We have two offices
near Vienna where we have all the infrastructure we need.
Q: First define and then
share your tips concerning PHP, and PostgreSQL.
A: There is so much I
could tell you about PostgreSQL and products which can interact with
PostgreSQL. There is nothing which comes to my mind instantly.
Q: What is Mono and how
does it compare?
A: The target of the Mono
project is to provide a free implementation of Microsoft's .NET
framework. Mono runs nicely on Linux and Windows machines. It can
hardly be compared to other products. Of course, it implements
Microsoft's specs but still, it has its own advantages and
Q: What are the major
problems and their solutions for porting Windows applications to
UNIX or Linux?
A: The main is that the
philosophy of Windows people is completely different. In some cases
it is hard for me to follow these guys because on UNIX machines
everything is so simple and so well thought. If Microsoft was that
logical porting would be an easy task.
Q: Describe the subtle
differences between using Mono in Windows and Linux?
A: Windows is not the
platform I am in favour of. Personally I think that a pure UNIX
solution feels better and tends to be more reliable. Mono itself
behaves the same way so there are no real differences I am
particularly aware of.
Q: How can you extend
Mono with C?
A: Mono and .NET provide
interfaces for doing that. Just compile you code and make a shared
object out of it. Integrating those shared objects will be an easy
Q: Please detail the
creation of user interfaces with GTK# and Qt#?
A: As far as I know there
are already some tools for building interfaces with Mono available.
I am not too familiar with those tool because the only GUI I am
using is called "Vi".
Q: Share your tips on
reading and writing XML files, writing stored procedures,
implementing advanced network-based applications, security issues,
using threads to execute code concurrently and so on.
A: Just do it like you
would do it on any other platform.
Q: What are the major
problems and successes with Open Source?
A: In general Open Source
software is more flexible and it allows programmers to deal more
extensively with a product because the code is open and free. I
strongly believe that freedom is an important issue. Just assume
that somebody would charge for things such as for using the alphabet
or for reading a code of law. Nature itself is Open Source.
Everybody can see how an apple grows and you can see the horizon
without having to ask somebody. Having the chance to see apples does
not mean that they have to be distributed for free - Open Source is
about freedom and not about costs. A programmer has to be free to
see the code of a product. Companies can still charge for it but is
there a reason to hide something.
I recommend to deal with
the ideas proposed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He is the father of
Maharishi Ayurveda, an Indian science which is thousands of years
old. The core idea is that everybody is supposed and allowed to see
how things work. The idea of having access to something which is
behind the scenes can be ported to modern software technology
Q: Can you make future
predictions about specific products and services coming from the
Open Source movement?
A: PostgreSQL will rule
the world. No, just joking. Let's get back to nature: Monocultures
will cause problems. If there is just one plant it is much more
likely that there will be diseases. It is the same with software. We
need many different products which can compete with each other. Of
course, PostgreSQL should be one of the more widespread plants but
we don't mind if other products are out there - they will help to
encourage PostgreSQL developers to produce even better software.
Q: How about forecasting
what the IT industry will look like in five years? What products and
services will dominate and which ones will disappear?
A: I have done forecasts
for the labour market some years ago. Forecasting things like that
is almost impossible. We will see. Hopefully Open Source will play
an important role.
Q: Do you have comments
about Web Services, its impact on traditional business models,
current trends in business models for Web Services, creating a
successful long-term Web Services business model, and its impact on
A: Web services are
somehow state of the art. I don't think that the average ROI of all
companies in an economy will increase but I expect companies which
do not provide Web services to have lower revenues.
Q: What are some common
problems and their solutions facing developers today?
A: In many cases we have
to deal with closed source products and that's a major problem. In
addition to the complexity of software is constantly increasing.
There is almost everything available and it will hard to find a
business where a company can breathe freely.
Q: Do you have some
stories about very challenging situations and their resolution?
A: Nothing I'd like to
Q: What trends do you see
in program development? Please make some predictions about the
future, and future technologies that businesses and IT professionals
should be considering?
A: Rapid application
development seems to be more important than ever. I don't expect
this to change in the future.
In the past few years software has become cheaper because many
companies don't want to spend so much money anymore. Companies start
to think about costs more and more. In my opinion this is a real
chance for Open Source software because it is cost effective - but
not only because of licensing costs.
Q: Do you have differing
recommendations for small, medium and large enterprise
A: Our recommendations
don't depend on the size of a company - it rather depends on the
demands we have to face.
Q: Can you provide your
list of the ten most important issues facing corporations and IT
professionals today? How can these issues be resolved?
A: Costs, time to market,
total costs of ownership, persistent development, support, random
events, unmanageable number of products on the market, many
competitors, software will be more and more specific…
Q: With regards to
security, please provide your detailed recommendations in this area?
A: Being aware of the
problem is half the rent.
Q: You must have both
interesting and funny stories to tell from your many rich
experiences-please share a few.
A: Of course we have seen
a lot of interesting and funny things. The most ridiculous thing I
have ever seen was an ASCII based MPEG player which was provided at
the O'Reilly Conference 2002 in San Diego. Have you ever seen
somebody watching movies via Telnet???
Q: Which resources do you
find the most useful?
Q: If you were doing this
interview, what three questions would you ask of someone in your
position and what would be your answers?
A: You seem to be very
busy - do you still have time for the things you really like? Of
course I have. In summer my office is in my back yard and I can hear
the birds singing when writing code. We travel a lot and love to go
skiing, dancing Salsa, ... (we = me + my wife). In summer we love to
go to a small, hidden lake near Vienna to relax. I love to deal with
herbs and alternative medicine. Currently I am learning about
feeling the pulse and Iridology (reading the Iris to discover
diseases). I love mountains - especially when they are covered with
When did you get your
first computer? I was 13. It was an Amiga. After that I got a
486DX33. I am 25 now.
Where do you live?
I live in a small village
near Vienna - we have moved out of Vienna a few months ago. Vienna
is the capital of Austria, a small country somewhere in the Alps
(the one next to Switzerland). Unfortunately we speak German - it is
the only thing we have in common with German people.
Q: Do you have any more
comments to add?
A: Check out our website
send an email to
email@example.com if you
have further questions.
Q: It was a pleasure
interviewing you. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge
with our audience.
A: Thanks for
interviewing me - I hope you don't feel bored now.