Review: dbForge Studio for MySQL (Part 1)

 

Well, today I am going to do something different. I am going to start a review of dbForge Studio for MySQL from Devart. Due to the nature of the application, this review will be split into several different posts. This first post is about my initial impression of the program (as a new user that hasn’t used this application before.)

 

For those of you that have not heard of dbForge Studio for MySQL, it is a database management, development and documentation tool. It is kind of like MySQL Workbench, but more powerful (and in my opinion, much more stable). To quote Devart’s website:

 

dbForge Studio for MySQL is a universal GUI for managing, developing and administrating MySQL and MariaDB databases. The tool allows you to create and execute queries, develop and debug routines, and automate database object management in the convenient environment.

 

Now, unlike MySQL Workbench, dbForge Studio for MySQL comes in 4 different editions. There is the Express edition, which, like MySQL Workbench is free. Then there are the Standard, Professional and Enterprise editions (all are editions that you have to pay for.) Fortunately they have a handy guide that helps you choose the edition that best fits you needs. I am choosing to review the Enterprise edition as that is the one that has all of the features I am looking for.

 

After downloading a trial of the Enterprise edition, I ran the installer. My first impression was good, the installer quickly allowed me to specify the installation options that I wanted and very quickly installed all of the necessary files. Since this is a .Net based application it gave me the option to specify how I wanted it to register the necessary components. I chose the option to register everything right away (the longest installation option, but allowed the application to start more rapidly.) Since this took several minutes I was very happy to see the installer launch a web page that allowed me to learn more about the software while it was registering the .Net assemblies.

 

After several minutes, the installer finished. At the end of the installation it offered the option to run dbForge Studio for MySQL. I took it up on the offer and let it launch the application. My first impression after launching the application was not as favorable. It took quite a while for a splash screen to appear. However, after the splash screen the main window appeared very quickly. To be fair, the slow initial startup may have been due to the software running in a BootCamp virtual machine on my MacBook Pro. I assume that the application will start much more quickly on a dedicated Windows machine. Either way I would have liked to see the splash screen show up more quickly.

 

Since I installed a trial version the software next asked me if I wanted to activate a registration or if I wanted to evaluate it. I chose to evaluate it.

 

The next screen to appear (which showed up very rapidly) was a dialog to allow me to setup my first connection. I liked this because it allowed me to get started much more quickly. There were several tabs of connection options. I left them all at their defaults and chose to connect to my new local MySQL 5.7 server instance on my development machine (for simplicity.) I chose to leave the database name field empty (due to not yet having a database created yet) and the software issued a warning to me about not having a default database. Fortunately the database name was optional so I proceeded. I was then presented with the following screen.

 

dbForge Studio for MySQL Main Screen

dbForge Studio for MySQL Main Screen

 

Since I did not yet have a database I needed to create one. This was easily done from the Database menu. The screen that appeared was easy to understand and I was able to quickly create a new, empty database.

 

Because I had no tables, views, etc. defined my next step was to create some tables. I like to design my database using diagrams as it is the (in my opinion) better way to engineer your database. It is less error prone than typing in code. dbForge has an option for that. You just need to select File|New|Database Diagram from the menu and you are instantly taken to the database diagram editor with your new database diagram loaded. Creating tables (and other objects) is easy thanks to the well organized toolbar. (You can also right-click on the diagram editor to access the new objects menu).

 

The new table dialog is easy to understand. It has pages for defining the fields, constraints, indexes, triggers, etc. I especially like that it has an object properties area to specify all of your field settings. As a software developer I really like that it works the way my IDE does. It made it so much faster for me to get things done.

 

Ok, so while creating my initial table I am finding it very easy to define. It even had options to encrypt my table (something MySQL Workbench doesn’t offer). The first snag I hit was trying to create a trigger for the table. I went to the trigger page of the new table editor and right clicked the trigger list. As I hoped there was a new trigger option. I clicked it and… nothing. I clicked again and nothing! Or so I thought. When I looked at the main window I saw an editor open for defining my trigger. (Two of them actually.) I would have expected the editor to appear either in front of the dialog, or inside of it. So I clicked OK to create my new table. It created the table and added the object to my disgram very quickly.

 

So, now I could define my triggers for the table. The editor is pretty simple and easy to understand. My biggest complaint is that (while there is code-completion available) the code-completion feature did not offer me any assistance with the field names for the table the trigger was being defined for. This wasn’t to big of an issue though since I new my field names, but it would be nice if it offered this option.

 

In summary, my initial impression of dbForge Studio for MySQL is highly favorable. With the exception of a few minor annoyances I am finding this tool to be more powerful, more stable and easier to use than MySQL Workbench. It is definitely worth a look and (while I haven’t tried all of it’s functionality yet) so far it seems like a tool I would recommend buying. I was up and running quickly and had no problems with starting to design a new database. I am already happier with it than I was using MySQL Workbench. And it hasn’t crashed even one time on me. I can’t say that about MySQL Workbench.

 

That’s it for this first post. Stay tuned for additional review posts as I use this excellent tool and discover more about it.