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phpMyAdmin, the one to beat

Work resumes on phpMyAdmin; another handy-dandy Web tool. 4/11 Web Dev Weekly hed: phpMyAdmin, the one to beat dek: Work resumes on phpMyAdmin; another handy-dandy Web tool.

Last week I extolled the virtues of a newly discovered addition to my toolbox, PHPMyEdit. Amidst the e-mail giving me grief for taking so long to discover PHPMyEdit, there were others inquiring about other MySQL administration tools.

As I mentioned previously, PHPMyEdit is well suited for giving nonprivileged access to your MySQL databases and tables. But what about performing tasks as the most-privileged user–the system administrator? Since way back in 1999, I have used phpMyAdmin to provide a helpful Web-based GUI to my data. While not a complete replacement to command-line MySQL access, phpMyAdmin does let you accomplish many day-to-day tasks from the comfort of your browser.

Recently moved over to a new home on SourceForge from a former roost on phpWizard, phpMyAdmin has become the app to beat for those designing open-source, Web-based interfaces for other popular databases. After seeing the phpMyAdmin code languish for six months, Olivier Müller moved the code to SourceForge and updated it with numerous bug fixes and multi-language support.

PhpMyAdmin is one of many PHP-based Web tools originally developed by Tobias Ratschiller, including phpAds, phpEasyMail, phpIRC, phpChat, and phpPolls. Tobias also developed a companion product to phpMyAdmin for PostgreSQL called, not surprisingly, phpPgAdmin, now maintained at GreatBridge. (Incidentally, phpAds, which has also found a new home on SourceForge and with continued development, looks to become a quite capable PHP-based open-source ad server under the name phpAdsPro.)

PhpMyAdmin is designed for users familiar with both MySQL and SQL in general. It has the ability to create, drop, and alter tables with a few clicks of a mouse. You can also browse, select, insert, drop, empty, alter, and examine your tables’ properties with equal ease. This brings us to the next topic–security.

As this script is very powerful, it is important to install it safely and out of easy reach. Make sure the configuration file is not readable by other users, and, if possible, install the interface on an SSL server on a nonstandard port. As you can imagine, great harm could befall your databases should a malicious user come across this script. Additionally, if more than one user will access this script, take care that you are using MySQL’s PASSWORD function for any passwords stored in your tables. Naturally, do not run phpMyAdmin as a privileged user like root.

PhpMyAdmin is another very useful addition to your Web toolbox. Do you have any apps or scripts that help to make your work easier? Send me e-mail. I will publish the results in a future column.

Garth Gillespie is architect and chief technologist of ComputerUser.com.

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