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?

Feb 7 2009

Goodbye osCommerce, hello Zen Cart

Pavel Lutskovsky

After several months battling osCommerce for a client of mine, I’ve thrown up my hands and embraced ZenCart.  The only pain in the process is knowing that had I done this sooner, I could’ve finished this project last month.  To compare the two is to compare a paraplegic to Michael Phelps.

OK… Maybe that’s a gross exaggeration.  I’m sure there are plenty osCommerce users in the world for whom it works well.  The problem is it didn’t work for me without having to debug payment modules.  Out of the box, the latest version was clunky, required register_globals to be on (deal-breaker), used a non-W3C compliant layout, had zero skin previews on its site and refused to work with PayPal Advanced Web Payments. This makes it a poor solution for my client — small business, no merchant account with a large bank, limited budget, limited time.  Something had to be done and after going through seven circles of hell with osC,  on a whim I tried Zen Cart.  I was hooked.  Not only did it work out of the box, but there was actual documentation, W3C compliance, much more flexibility, AND it worked with PayPal immediately.

So, if you’re stuck with an e-commerce package that requires you have register_globals set to on, doesn’t quite work with paypal and isn’t W3C compliant out of the box, this is for you.

It’s time to lose osCommerce and use a more modern solution.  The process is quite simple because Zen Cart’s schema is very similar in all key places to the osCommerce schema.  This is because ZenCart was branched from osCommerce a while ago. While the PHP changed, the schema remained very close to the original. The upgrade is simply a matter of installing ZenCart where you need it, running some DB scripts, and moving a few image files.  I went from osC 2.2 to Zen Cart 1.3.8.  I’m not sure if the below instructions will work for other versions, so you should check the schema before proceeding.

First, install ZenCart.  I put mine at /[site directory]/zen.  Create a DB for it and then just follow the instructions.  If you’re on DreamHost, there’s a one-click installer available.

Next, you’ll need to run some db scripts to move your data over.  If you don’t want to mess around with manually reviewing each table, a data compare tool is imperative.  If you have a Windows machine available, Toad for MySQL is a free tool which has a data compare function. There are alternatives that cost over $200.  You can also use phpMyAdmin to export the necessary data and import it into Zen Cart.  The bare minimum tables you’ll need are below.  When preparing this, note how many tables you selected. This will help debug the import if things go wrong.


You may have other content in tables like newsletters, specials, etc.  As long as you understand the general idea of comparing the tables before moving data, you can move those too.  In phpMyAdmin, select your osC database and click on the “Export” tab at the top.  Select the tables you want and use the following options:

Select SQL radio button under tables selection
un-check "Structure"
check "Data"
    x Complete inserts
    x Extended inserts
check "Save as file"

Next, just click “Go”. You can save or open the file.  You should have a SQL script containing all your really important product and customer data to move into your Zen Cart database.  So, select your Zen Cart database in phpMyAdmin and click on the Import tab. It’s time to move data.

Click “Browse” and select the file you just downloaded. Make sure the format of import file is set to SQL and click Go. You’ll get a status message telling you how many queries were successfully executed.  The number should be equal to the number of tables you selected.

Next, it’s time to move your product images.  The images directory in osC is /[installation dir]/images.  This is the same in Zen Cart.  You can use FTP, command line, a file manager, whatever you want to do this.  I just ran “cp -i * [zencart images dir]“. The “-i” flag will make sure you get prompted if there’s a conflict.

That’s it! You’re done.  Configure your store and start selling.