A PHPMyAdmin alternative with a user friendly interface

Almost all LAMP Developers start their careers with the use of PHPMyAdmin which is a reasonable MySQL client to begin with but I think PHPMyAdmin hasn’t evolved with the same pace as rest of the Web Development techniques have.

MyWebSQL on the other hand is as robust as PHPMyAdmin with a user friendly interface and almost everything a Web 2.0 Application needs. Moreover its open source too, free to use with plenty of support for users from the development team.

I will list down some of the prominent features of MyWebSQL which make it stand out, hoping that this review will help developers find a decent MySQL Web client easily.

  • Speed: MyWebSQL is substantially quicker than PHPMyAdmin. The difference is so noticeable that I had to mention it as the first advantage over PHPMyAdmin. It uses Asynchronous (Ajax) calls for executing the queries which also adds up to the speed.
  • Simplicity & Interactivity: The user interface is very friendly with a decent, minimalist and light design. This also makes it easier for newbies to have a better experience. The buttons and menus are very much like any OS, so there is no learning curve for the user. And I love its right click functionality, being a Windows user I am very much used to the right click functionality when I am unable to find the required operation.
  • Easy to Setup: It is very simple to setup on your hosted or local web server without any additional complex configuration of any sort. All it needs is PHP 5 and MySQL (versions 4 and 5 are both supported). The development team has recently added the support for SQLite as well.
  • Themes & Languages: Though it is a tool to help in web development yet the developers have given multiple themes to select from if the default theme is not comfortable for your eyes. The basic package comes with 6 themes for now, but new themes can be created using jQuery UI base themes.Along with themes, it also comes in 39 different languages to choose from.
    [If you are a developer and can help with translation into any language, you are more than welcome to send a request to the developers on the project website]
  • Blazing fast Query Execution: MyWebSQL uses asynchronous query execution, making the process real quick and there are no waiting times for the page to reload and get the results. Moreover it has a panel at the bottom where you can write your query and see the results in the top panel. Making it look similar to any MySQL client installed on your desktop.
  • Quick Record Editing: This is one of the neatest and unique feature of MyWebSQL. Records editing is really quick and simple, you can edit the records by double clicking on them. No need to browse to another page for editing records. And multiple edits can be saved with a single click, or you can simply generate SQL queries for your editing session and execute them manually after inspection.
  • WYSIWYG Table Editor: The table creator and editor are completely WYSIWYG, so you can create or edit your tables in grid format, and it will generate the right queries for you to create or alter the tables as necessary.
  • Syntax Highlighting:The Query Editor in MyWebSQL gives a very good syntax highlighting making the SQL queries more readable. Unlike the simple text box version in PHPMyAdmin. If you are a developer with basic knowledge of PHP, you can also pick any browser based code editor and integrate it with MyWebSQL easily.
  • Multitasking:Yes, MyWebSQL supports multitasking, no need to open different tabs for seeing results of different queries. You can do all of it in one single tab under different interfaces within MyWebSQL. Tools and utilities available in the interface open up in separate dialogs, so you can multitask easily without losing focus from your queries.
  • Import / Export & Multiple Servers:MyWebSQL supports importing and exporting databases, tables and results to and from different formats. The export has a special feature where you can export large databases without having to worry about the PHP Memory limits, which is an issue with PHPMyAdmin. MyWebSQL also supports connections to multiple Database servers.
  • Customizable Sections: Different sections on the UI can be hidden and shown as per need. This gives the power to see only the sections that are needed. Moreover, next time you open the interface, your settings are preserved!
  • Common Tools: Powerful Tools:Common database management tools like Process Manager, User and Permission Manager, Table checker/optimizer, Database Text Search, Table Index Manager etc. are included in the application.

The above list of impressive features have made MyWebSQL my favorite MySQL client. If you are fed up of your MySQL Client then MyWebSQL is going to be a good choice for you. You can check the Online Demo and decide for yourself. You can also send your feature request and bug reports, as the development team is pretty active in responding to your queries.

Web development tricks: Getting the best out of Firefox

Firefox is by far and large the choice of browser for web developers. In this article, you will see some not so common, and some other useful tricks to get the best out of your firefox browser and speed up your web development. All the tips explained below can be applied to Firefox version 3 and the newer version 4. However, you might find it difficult to get  hands on firefox 4 compatible addons, so Firefox 3 is good enough at the time of writing this post.

Using Profiles

This is perhaps the most useful but unused feature of the firefox browser. Profiles allow you to run more than one instance of firefox, each instance having its own interface, addons and customizations. Based on my personal experiece, I prefer to keep at least 3 profiles
which allow me to quickly test and debug my web applications. One for my regular  browsing sessions, which must be fast, and other two for the development stuff.

First of all, lets see how to create a profile in firefox.

1. from the command line, navigate to the firefox folder and run the following command.

firefox.exe -p

Viola! instead of your favourite browser, a small dialog will appear. You will see ‘default’ as the profile on the right side, while 3 buttons on the left. Click the ‘Create Profile’ button. Click Next to get rid of the introductory screen (read it if you like), and then name the profile ‘Development’. You can choose a folder of your choice, but its ok if you leave it as is. Firefox takes care of the rest.
When you return back to the profile dialog, create one more profile. Name it ‘Testing’.
Exit the dialog once you are done.

2. Create a shortcut on your desktop or quick launch folder to the firefox.exe file. Right click the shortcut and edit its command line. Add the following at the end of the command line:

-no-remote -p “Development”

so now the shortuct command becomes

“C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” -no-remote -p “Development”

Save and close the shortcut properties dialog. Rename the shortcut to “Firefox –  Development Profile”

3. Copy the above shortcut you just created and save it with the name “Firefox – Testing Profile”. Edit shortcut properties and change its command line to the following:

“C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” -no-remote -p “Testing”

4. Again, repeat the above step and create another copy of the shortcut with the name “Firefox – default”. The command line for this shortcut will be:

“C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” -no-remote -p “default”

That’s It!. You have created three separate profiles for firefox. You can try double clicking each of the shortcut and you will be happy to see three instances of firefox open up. One of them will contain your default settings, while the other two we just created will show the
freshly installed firefox interface. Now let’s see how can we get the best out of our profiles.

Development Profile

When you are done playing with the multiple firefox profiles, close all of them and start only the “Development” profile.

Install the following add-ons from the addons.mozilla.org website:

Now let’s customize the interface to save screen space for our development and get rid of extra stuff.
Install the “TwentyTen for firefox” theme for firefox. This is my personal favourite and probably the best theme for firefox.

Restart firefox and right click on the toolbar area to hide the bookmarks toolbar.
Open Web Developer Toolbar’s option dialog and set to display only icons. This will free up lots of space on the toolbar so we can add some of our own bookmarlet.

Open the Web Development bookmarklets site and drag and drop your choice of bookmarklets onto the right side of Web Developer Toolbar.

Once you are done, your screen should resemble something like this.

Development profile contains required addons and looks pretty neat with TwentyTen theme.

Now your super cool web development environment is ready for use.

Testing Profile

The Testing profile is the one I use after completing the development phase, and when I am ready to analyze and optimize my web applications. Let’s start by installing the  required add-ons for Testing profile.

  • Bandwidth Throttle (You can use to simulate slow connections and see how your website loads)
  • HTML Validator (The lesser the errors in validation, the more beautiful your work will be!)
  • User Agent Switcher (Most useful if you have checks in your web application for various browser agents)
  • YSlow (The final destination for your website analysis. Learn to use it and be a pro!)
  • Extended StatusBar (Needed so you can see the download status and stuff while testing the site)

Once you restart the browser in Testing profile, you should be able to analyze and fix issues with your web application which are normally not visible during development.

The “Default” Profile

While we customized the development profiles, the default profile remains same. This is the one I use for my regular browsing session while I work on the blog, read emails and stuff. I only install the addons most required in the default profile, so that the browser performs at top speed.

I hope the above tips will help you in enhancing your browsing habits and improve your development speed. If you have additional addons/tips in this regard, feel free to post them in your comments.