Saturday, August 15, 2009

Book review: Mastering phpMyAdmin 3.1

A couple of weeks ago I received a book from PACKT Publishing titled "Mastering phpMyAdmin 3.1 for Effective MySQL Management" written by Marc Delisle, with the request if I could read it and write a review about it. Why not ? I haven't used phpMyAdmin in whole my career so I might as well read about the tool everyone around me is using. And since phpMyAdmin is also bundled with Zend Server, it can only benefit my day-to-day job.

On the front cover it states "Increase your MySQL productivity and control by discovering the real power of phpMyAdmin 3.1", so the book challenged me from the start. I have been using the MySQL command-line tool since forever so I was really curious about how this book could convince me to use phpMyAdmin from now on.

The first two chapters of this book are explaining what phpMyAdmin is all about and how you should install it, along with a very detailed security configuration part. A remarkable feature is that you can install it for multi-user hosting purposes, giving each user it's own MySQL toolset using just one installation.

Chapter 3 covers a very detailed explanation of each panel you see in the phpMyAdmin interface. Not only a mere statement that explains what each panel is used for, but also how you can modify this panel's behavior by modifying the configuration settings.

A hands-on example is covered in chapters 4, 5 and 6, where Marc takes you on a journey through all the steps of creating, inserting, browsing, modifying and removing tables and data. Although I was already familiar with MySQL's capabilities, I have to admit that by using a tool like phpMyAdmin your whole data management becomes more visible and gives you a certain amount of joy browsing through your data.

With MySQL on command line I could import/export my data and table structures in native SQL and XML, but with phpMyAdmin you can choose between 14 different export types. Although I believe that SQL will remain the main type used by many, it's good to know you have a tool available that can export data anyway you want.

Another cool feature I discovered by reading this book is that phpMyAdmin offers you the ability to manage relations between tables easily using the interface, but you can also create graphical relation diagrams that you can export into PDF.

With it's MySQL 5.0 and MySQL 5.1 support you also have the ability to manage the advanced MySQL toolset like triggers, stored procedures, functions and views. Having the ability to use these advanced MySQL capabilities in a graphical interface can only benefit it's usage amongst many developers.

But the best feature of phpMyAdmin is that you could have in-table MIME-type based transformations. So if you work often with BLOB data, you can now have it appear right in your interface as a download link or as a clickable thumbnail.

If you're new to phpMyAdmin or you just start using MySQL databases, this book gives you step-by-step instructions on how to use the interface to manage your data. But I think this book has even more value to the professional where this book is the perfect reference guide for all those advanced MySQL capabilities. I will certainly use phpMyAdmin more, having this book besides me to guide me the way.
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