8/31/2020 - #development
by: Kévin Weyhaupt

For local web development, we usually use PHPMyAdmin or PHPStorm's embedded tool, as they are easy to use, fast and complete. But when it comes to handling pre-production and production bases, it's a bit tricky, because, for security reasons, installing PHPMyAdmin isn’t recommended. So what’s the answer? SQL in CLI, connected in SSH? No thanks – it’s not very practical.

To fix this problem, we made it simple and took one of the best known and most reputable tools available - Linux: MySQL Workbench and quickly discovered that it’s relatively powerful with many features:

 

  • Management of multiple database connections, securely via SSH

  • Simple and efficient data export and import

  • Ability to edit/delete/add lines directly via the interface and make changes (more commonly known as "inline edit")

  • Analysis of the database (number of queries in progress, type of query ...)

  • Remembers query tabs

  • And many other features: https://www.mysql.com/fr/products/workbench/features.html

 

In our opinion, one of its greatest strengths remains its ergonomics. It’s easy to manage several connections and query tabs at the same time thanks to its lightweight interface:

Screen d'un écran avec Workbench en cours d'utilisation

So why look for alternatives? Well, unfortunately all these positive points are marred by recurring freezes and numerous crashes that, at best, just concern the application itself but can also affect the whole PC. In addition, sometimes very simple queries take 3 minutes to execute. This can make things tricky, especially when we need fast action on a production database.

To remedy this, we decided to look at other solutions. Here are three that caught our eye.

These three alternatives have advantages and disadvantages compared to MySQL Workbench that we’ll detail here:

 

Beekeeper Studio

Advantages:

  • Application with a lightweight and simple interface

  • Easy to use

  • Relatively ergonomic

  • Convenient Query History and Favorites

  • Simple and efficient data export, without necessarily being very extensive

Disadvantages:

  • Much less functionality than Workbench

  • No inline edit (for us that’s enough not to use it as a replacement for Workbench)

  • No LIMIT by default so you’ll have to think about the LIMIT in all your queries if you don’t want to wait too long and over-use the database for nothing

  • No auto-complete for columns, both in SELECT and WHERE  :grimace::cercle_rouge::pouce_baissé:

 

Bottom line: this application is really not a replacement for Workbench because of its lack of features, but useful for those who like to do everything manually, the hard way, without going through the terminal alone.

Screen écran d'utilisation de Beekeeper studio

 

DBeaver Community

Advantages:

  • Easy to use

  • Inline edit

  • Nice auto-complete (auto addition of aliases, good management of columns and tables)

  • Simple switch between basics

  • Import / Export, but not very intuitive

  • DEFAULT LIMIT with very convenient pagination

  • Realization of MCD (Conceptual Data Model)

Disadvantages:

  • Dated interface

  • Ergonomics could be improved, although we think we’d get used to it over time.

Bottom line: Probably the best free alternative to Workbench, widespread and reputable. Ergonomics issues should improve with time and practice.

Écran écran d'utilisation DBeaver  

DataGrip

Advantages:

  • Inline Edit

  • Code completion (alias proposal, when you make a JOIN, it offers you the possibility of ON according to columns and foreign keys, which is very useful)

  • Live templates like PHPStorm: A real productivity gain.

  • Intuitive, simple and complete data export and import

  • DEFAULT LIMIT with very convenient pagination

  • Realization of MCD

Disadvantages:

  • Ergonomics aren’t initially optimal, but if you’re used to PHPStorm (or other JetBrainstools), you won’t get too lost and the multiple parameters mean a more user-friendly interface.

  • Paid, with 30-day free trial

Screen écran d'utilisation DataGrip

Bottom line: we believe DataGrip is the best alternative. Being used to PHPStorm, which itself incorporates DataGrip features, it was easy to get started. It brings a real gain in productivity and efficiency if we often have to work on the database data.

Another point to take into account: these 3 solutions manage several DBMSs (MariaDB,  Postgre,SQLite ...)

 

In conclusion, DBeaver seems the best free option and DataGrip is THE best paid option, at least in our working environment, which is Linux.

By the way, for us, none of them equals the ergonomics of Workbench (but at least they don’t crash and don’t crash your PCs :visage_légèrement_souriant:).

And unfortunately, none the three offers the possibility of separating the tabs by base/connection as well as Workbench.

 

There is so much to say about these alternatives that they would each deserve their own article. Once we’ve used them more thoroughly, would you be interested?

 

So it’s up to you to make up your own minds, and we’d love to hear your comments! If you want to test them out, they’re all available on the snapcraft store:

 

And you? What do you use and why?

 

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