You might not know this, but you can do a lot more with phpMyAdmin than just create tables and insert records. This first in a two-part series takes a look at some of the other features hidden under the hood of this popular PHP application, explaining how it can be used to secure access to the MySQL server, manage multiple servers, manipulate user privileges, view reports on server activity, and export MySQL data into different formats.
Every RDBMS worth its salt comes with one or more database administration tools that SQL developers can use to perform common tasks like executing queries, setting user privileges and viewing server status. For example, Oracle developer tend to swear by Quest Software's TOAD, while Microsoft SQL Server devotees use the ubiquitous Enterprise Manager and SQL Query Analyzer.
But what about MySQL? Does MySQL come with any GUI-based tools to speed up development? Is there a way for SQL newbies to work with a MySQL database without getting into the nitty-gritty of SQL syntax? What about for developers to easily interact with and manipulate a MySQL database or table, obtain E-R diagrams of table relationships and page through the contents of a table without having to resort to the command prompt? Or for administrators to quickly and easily assign user privileges and track down and kill rogue processes?
Yes, yes, yes and yes - phpMyAdmin is the answer to all the questions above.
What started as a simple project to manage a MySQL database via a Web interface is today a comprehensive one-stop shop for managing and maintaining multiple MySQL databases on a single server (or across multiple servers, if needed) without much fuss. And with thousands of enthusiastic developers downloading it every day, it is no surprise that it consistently ranks as one of the most popular open-source projects on SourceForge.
If you're an SQL purist, you're probably scoffing right now - like most purists, you believe in the power of the SQL command line for your daily tasks. But if you're new to SQL in general and MySQL in particular, or if you're a DBA who needs to get a particular task done quickly and don't have the time to learn the specifics of MySQL's command syntax, you'd probably be quite interested to know that phpMyAdmin can turn a lot of otherwise-complex tasks into simple point-and-click operations: creating databases and tables, inserting table data, running SQL queries, setting user privileges, viewing reports of server usage and importing/exporting tables from one server to another.
Over the course of this two-part article, I'm going to take you on a tour of one of the most popular Web-based tools for managing a MySQL database server. The first part of this article lays the foundation, explaining how to obtain the software, install and configure it for secure access, and use it for tasks such as managing multiple servers, manipulating user privileges, viewing reports on server activity, and exporting MySQL records into different formats. The second part explains the more advanced aspects of the application, including using it for transformations, maintaining a history of all the SQL queries executed in the phpMyAdmin session, defining relations between tables to create JOINs automatically, creating E-R diagrams in PDF format, and bookmarking important queries for future reference.
I will assume in this two-part series that you're familiar with phpMyAdmin, and have used it in the past for routine tasks like table creation and data manipulation. In case you haven't, read the first few pages of this tutorial, which teach you how to install and configure it, take a short break to play around with it and get familiar with common tasks (it's really, really simple to use), and then come back to find out more about what you can do with it.