MySQL Workbench – a Review

The MySQL Developer Tools Team have just released their Release Candidate 3 of MySQL Workbench. This release fixed another 70 "issues" they missed in the last release candidate 5.2.22 RC 2, where they fixed 76 bugs, and follows the previous release, RC 1, where they fixed 62 bugs.  MySQL  Workbench is an open source project running on Windows, Linux, and Mac.

The older MySQL Administrator and the accompanying MySQL Query Browser were tools that were much beloved, that you kept going back to, and using over and over again,  like a nice fitting driving gloves, comfortable, useful, and empowering.  Since I started working with MySQL, I can't remember not having them on my desktop, ready at a moments notice.

Because of that, I have looked upon MySQL Workbench with much suspicion and doubt. And indeed before this release, I would say the MySQL Workbench could not replace the previous Administrator and Query Browser. Now, I'm not too sure. With this release that has changed. Workbench includes the integration of MySQL Administrator, and MySQL Query Browser into an integrated environment, with much potential for growth through plug-ins, much like Eclipse, although don't get me started on the integration of Eclipse plug-ins, another topic.

Workbench is like the French three-pronged fleur-de-lis, three separate tool areas open from a central core, Workbench Central.

Workbench Central

Workbench makes heavy use of "breadcrumb" like menus without tabs. Menus run horizontally across different windows in the Workbench, and clicking on the name brings you to the next screen. It took a second to get use to, but once I did, I liked the layout and the way workbench integrated.

You go back to Workbench Central by clicking "Home" in the upper left. If you click on any of your db connections, or menus across the top,  you enter into one of the three program areas: SQL Development with Query Browser, Data Modeling, and Server Administrator. It is obvious that each of these three sections is its own program, as they each take awhile to open at first.

Before MySQL Workbench folks were using DBDesigner to model their databases and do their EER diagrams. The Data Modeling section probably needs a little clean up and streamlining, as it opens rather "clunkily," but once open works well.

Workbench Data Modeling

The administrator works well, but needs a little configuring as it checks your connections, and let's you know if your missing an ini file or config setting.     You can configure multiple database connections to multiple servers, and reach each database with a click of the mouse.  The Administrator includes a series of graphs along the top of the window, which look nice, but I'm not sure are that useful.   The Administrator is laid out horizontally in keeping with the overall layout template of the Workbench, but I think I like the original Administrators vertical menus a little better.

Workbench Administrator

You can tell the Development Team has put some time into the Query Browser, and it shows.  You'll find that the Query Browser is an improvement over the previous independent version. A red error x pops up as you type a query if you have the syntax wrong, this is immediate, instead of waiting until after you execute the query, very nice.  Query's form a horizontal s menu along the top of the window as you make them, yes, the older version had this, but this is more automatic. Errors are reported when you execute the query, the same as the old version, with an obtuse error number.  My only gripe, which has nothing to do with the current Workbench, as the same was true of the previous version, is I wish the error messages were a tad more verbose.

Workbench Query Browser

MySQL Workbench is coming into its own and is starting to show the promise in its developer's eyes.  The Developers Tools Team should be applauded for their dedication and persistence to get it right, and the outcome of this dedication is that MySQL Workbench is getting better and better.   I would look for the official release to follow closely after this RC 3 release.  I recommend you not wait for the official release,  go ahead, and get this release now, and start using it.  There is much to discover as you integrate Workbench into your databases, and begin working with it.  Enjoy.


MySQL Workbench – a Review — 3 Comments

  1. My real gripe with the software is the dark blue skin. I liked the Query Browser gray. The current design reminds me too much of my deep-seeded hate for the windows “ribbon” interface.