Feb 17 2009

toad for mysql

Pavel Lutskovsky

In my recent quest to migrate a shopping cart from osCommerce to ZenCart, I realized that I missed the SQL comparison tools I used in my Delphi programming days — namely redgate SQL Compare.  But like most that only freelance occasionally, I simply cannot justify spending several hundred dollars on a tool I’ll only use some of the time.  

I needed something cheap (free) to compare both the schema and the data and spit out a difference between tables on different databases.  Hand-comparing would be a waste of time for a low-paying project and I was fairly certain from a quick once-over that there would be few differences in structure since Zen Cart started as a branch of osCommerce. 

I’ve used MySQL GUI Tools issued by MySQL for the last few years on PC and Mac and found their performance to be generally good on PC and less than adequate on a Mac.  There was always phpMyAdmin — old, clunky, definitely a tool of the last resort when remote logins aren’t allowed.  Additionally, SQLyog’s free edition has been quite useful.  Sadly, none of them offered any sort of data/schema comparison tools.  

  • MySQL’s Migration Toolkit (part of MySQL GUI Tools) offered a very cool interface for moving one db to another.  I will likely have to review that separately for its ease of use, speed and flexibility in doing that one task. But there wasn’t a way to take one database’s objects and compare them to another database’s objects for the purposes of moving data.
  • SQLyog was another excellent GUI for DB work.  Free was a good price.  But still no comparison features.
  • phpMyAdmin is a tool of last resort for me.  It offers backup and restore but little else. I despise the GUI and the features are lacking quite a bit.

With my hopes down and settling in for a tedious hand-compare process I ran across Toad for MySQL which promised “utilities to compare, extract and search for objects.”

I’m impressed.  Within minutes, I had two schemas compared on the tables I needed and scripts generated to move data from one to the other.   The usability of this software was excellent and incredibly intuitive, without nags, useless prompts, unclear instructions, etc.  

Reasons why Toad is my new MySQL GUI: 

  1. Powerful schema and data comparison. Free.
  2. SQL debugging, query planning, query builder for when you’re lazy, auto-generation of statements.
  3. Decent, intuitive GUI.  Even the ability to use whatever style you’re used to, like SQL Query Analyzer or Management Studio.
  4. It didn’t attempt to take over the .sql file extension.  I can still use anything else I want.  It doesn’t pretend to run my life and I’m quite happy with that.
  5. Did I mention it’s free?