MySQL is one of the most popular databases for web servers. The MySQL website offers a free download of MySQL Workbench, a GUI database management program. I decided to download it and give it a try. It is available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and several versions of Linux. I tried out the Ubuntu version.
When you first start the application, you are greeted with your Workspace and three categories: SQL Development, Data Modeling, and Server Administration. I wanted to see how easy it was to connect to a database, so I immediately clicked “New Connection”. By default, it brings up your local databases, which is what I wanted to edit, so I did not have to configure anything, only enter my password. The workbench instantly presented me with a new tab containing all of my SQL databases. To edit any one, you just click on it and begin.
I honestly do not even know what data modeling is, so I left that section alone. I went straight to server administration and clicked “New server instance”. Again there were several configuration options, but it was already set to connect to my local server. Within seconds I had live graphs, server status, configuration options, and logs for my MySQL server.
I imagine connecting to a real remote server will require more than just a few clicks, and most of that configuration will need to take place on the server side (i.e. you will need to configure your firewall to accept remote MySQL connections through a port like 3306). Once you do, it gives you the option of saving a connection so that you can just click and go the next time. It even offers to save your password in a keychain, but I chose to be prompted every time.
Overall, the software is very impressive and works right out of the box without any real setup. I have not tested it in a real-world situation to see how it actually handles a database compared to something like phpMyAdmin, but since the application is distributed by MySQL, I cannot imagine compatibility problems. Best of all, this software is free and open source, so download and enjoy.