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Cover image for Top 5 MariaDB GUI tools in 2022
Monika Ambrozowicz for Forest Admin

Posted on • Originally published at blog.forestadmin.com

Top 5 MariaDB GUI tools in 2022

According to the DB-Engines Ranking, MariaDB ranks 12th overall, and 8th among the relational databases, ahead of Microsoft Azure, Amazon DynamoDB, Snowflake, Redshift, and hundreds of others. What is more interesting though, is that MariaDB was ranked 20th just five years ago, and its popularity only seems to grow.

MariaDB is an open-source fork of MySQL, compared to which it has faster performance, and is more suitable for large-sized data. Both databases are highly compatible with each other, which allows a lot of tools to work equally well with MariaDB and MySQL. It is also true for Forest Admin as the onboarding is exactly the same whether you choose one of them or another. The same can be said for other popular MariaDB GUI tools, like DBeaver, dbForge Studio, HeidiSQL, but some tools are either dedicated to one database or they perform slightly better depending on the database.

Now let’s have a look at the most widely-used database GUI tools that are proven to work well with MariaDB. We have chosen them based on the official MariaDB Knowledge Base, their popularity on the r/MariaDB community on Reddit, and reviews left on TrustPilot.

DBeaver

DBeaver is a free and open source multiplatform tool for all people who work with databases. Apart from MariaDB, it supports MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, MS Access, MongoDB, Redis, and many more databases. It is actively maintained, and users are invited to report bugs and suggest features on the DBeaver GitHub page.

DBeaver for MariaDB's interface
DBeaver for MariaDB. Source: https://dbeaver.io/

Basic features:

  • Data viewer and editor: sorting, filtering, export, etc.,
  • Data and metadata search,
  • Metadata browser: viewing and editing tables, views, columns, users, roles, procedures, etc.
  • File export and import, from a variety of formats such as CSV, HTML, XML, JSON, XLS, and XLSX.
  • SQL editor.

Supported platforms:

  • Linux,
  • Windows,
  • macOS.

Pros:

  • DBeaver is easy to install and to connect to a database. It runs as a desktop application, which is good for beginners as no CLI proficiency is required to get started.
  • You can run SQL queries even without strong SQL skills.
  • It comes with strong features to view and manipulate your data.
  • Users praise its predictive typing and claim DBeaver saves them a lot of time.

Cons:

  • Some users complain about old school-looking UI.
  • The fact DBeaver runs locally, as a desktop application, may also decrease its performance. To tackle this problem, you need to switch to an enterprise plan.

dbForge Studio

dbForge Studio is a fully-featured GUI tool to develop, manage, and administer MariaDB and MySQL databases. It is developed by Devart, one of the leading developers of database management software, ALM solutions, and data providers for the most popular database servers. dbForge is a full-fledged MariaDB (and MySQL) GUI that is used to create and execute queries, analyze data, compare and synchronize databases, and much more. dbForge Studio is not available for free, the pricing starts at $179.95 per year.

dbForge Studio for MariaDB.
dbForge Studio for MariaDB. Source: https://www.devart.com/

Basic features:

  • Intelligent SQL Coding,
  • Database compare and sync,
  • Data import and export,
  • Database copying, designer, refactoring, data generator, administration, backup, migration,
  • Query profiling,
  • Visual query builder,
  • MySQL debugger,
  • Table designer,
  • Reports and analytics.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows

Pros:

  • dbForge Studio is a powerful GUI tool with a rich visual design, and an intuitive UI.
  • Users praise its SQL editor, code suggestions, stability, and a user-friendly interface.

Cons:

  • dbForge Studio is not officially available for Linux and MacOs.
  • It is neither free nor open source, but there is a 30-day free trial.

DbSchema

DbSchema is a visual database design and management tool for all relational and a few No-SQL databases. It claims to help with design, documenting and managing databases without having to be an SQL expert, as the schema can be edited with a few clicks, without writing complex SQL queries. DbSchema is reverse-engineering the database schema and visualizing it as diagrams. After 15 days of a free trial, the price of DbSchema starts at $98 for academic purposes.

DB Schema dor MariaDB.
DB Schema dor MariaDB. Source: https://dbschema.com/

Features:

  • Logical & physical design,
  • Interactive diagrams,
  • Generating interactive HTML5 documentation,
  • Schema synchronization,
  • Visual query builder,
  • Relational data editor,
  • Editing and executing SQL queries,
  • CSV editor for large files,
  • Database reports & charts,
  • Automating schema deployment & tasks,
  • Dark theme, and more.

Supported platforms:

  • Linux,
  • Windows,
  • macOS.

Pros:

  • DbSchema’s users praise it for supporting multiple databases, simple and intuitive UI, and useful but not overly complicated features.
  • It uses a copy of schema structure, which is independent and separated from the MariaDb database. DbSchema can handle large databases with more than 10.000 tables. Connecting to another database won't change the model schema unless you choose to refresh it from the database.

Cons:

  • The free version is limited.

Navicat for MariaDB

Navicat is a graphical front-end for MariaDB. It is compatible with all versions of MariaDB and with MySQL 3.21 and above. It is a part of a bigger Navicat ecosystem of products like Navicat Premium (a multi-connection database development and administration tool which can simultaneously connect 7 databases), Navicat for MySQL, Navicat for MongoDB, Navicat for Oracle, and more. All of them are commercial tools, with pricing that starts at $119.00 per user.

Navicat for MariaDB.
Navicat for MariaDB. Source: https://www.navicat.com/

Supported platforms:

  • Linux,
  • Windows,
  • macOS
  • iOS.

Basic features:

  • SQL processing: SQL editor, find and replace, create parameter queries, open query files in an external editor, console.
  • Data Viewer and Editor: grid view; Text, Hex, Image or Web viewer/editor, raw mode editing, filter records.
  • Import/export data from/to plain text file formats: TXT, CSV, XML, JSON
  • Dump/Execute SQL file
  • Collaboration: create projects, add members
  • Synchronize connections and queries
  • More features are available in higher plans. Check Navicat for MariaDB’s website for the complete feature matrix.

Pros:

  • As a commercial product, it comes with more features than most of its open-source counterparts.
  • Navicat is user-friendly, users like its modern UI, and the fact that Navicat is very quick and easy to get started with.

Cons:

  • Navicat’s pricing can be a blocker for smaller projects.
  • It tends to be resource-intensive.

HeidiSQL

HeidiSQL is a free open source tool initially built for MariaDB and MySQL, and now also supporting PostgreSQL, MicrosoftSQL, and SQLite. HeidiSQL is only available for Windows, as a Windows app, which doesn’t prevent it from being ranked as one of the most popular tools for MariaDB and MySQL.

HeidiSQL UI.
HeidiSQL UI. Source: https://www.heidisql.com/screenshots.php?which=database

Basic features:

  • Connecting to multiple servers in one window.
  • Connect to servers via command line.
  • Creating and edit tables, views, stored routines, triggers and scheduled events,
  • Exporting from one server/database directly to another server/database.
  • Managing user-privileges.
  • Exporting table rows as CSV, HTML, XML, SQL, LaTeX, Wiki Markup and PHP Array.
  • Browsing and editing table-data using a comfortable grid.
  • Bulk edit tables (move to db, change engine, collation etc.).
  • Writing queries with customizable syntax-highlighting and code-completion.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows

Pros:

  • For non-English speakers, HeidiSQL is available in 22 other languages.
  • It’s a very good lightweight tool for managing several databases at the same time.
  • It’s free and open source.
  • HeidiSQL is easy to install as a Windows app and to use.

Cons:

  • According to some users, HeidiSQL is buggy and it doesn’t provide advanced debugging features.
  • Low stability. Despite the wide popularity, HeidiSQL is known for bugs and issues.
  • It is only available for Windows, just like dbForge Studio

MariaDB GUI tool or MariaDB admin panel?

Admin panels, internal tools, and database GUI tools are often used interchangeably. After all, their main functionalities are similar – all allow accessing data and performing at least basic CRUD operations. Database GUI clients give their users full control over their data but they need to operate on raw SQL queries, which is a blocker for non-technical users. If it’s not an issue, and/or a database GUI tool is used infrequently, mostly for firefighting, you may not need a fully-featured admin panel.

The situation changes when sales, operations, customer support, marketing, and other, typically non-technical teams need secure access to data to perform their day-to-day activities in an efficient manner. Internal tools like admin panels offer much more functionalities, including roles and permissions management, approval workflows, adding data, creating visual dashboards, editing content, contacting users, validating documents, sharing internal tools with external partners, and so on.

Forest Admin - a MariaDB admin panel

Forest Admin belongs to the second category. As a fully-featured admin panel solution, it can act as a database GUI, or easily become a powerful internal tool that fits every business logic. Unlike competitors, Forest Admin doesn’t just provide the UI, but it scans the data structure and generates a fully-functional admin panel with all basic features like CRUD, search, export, and more, out-of-the-box. Then, you can customize it according to your needs. Thanks to its unique architecture, Forest Admin can never access user data, which stays on their servers.

Forest Admin UI with out-of-the-box features like search and filters.
Forest Admin UI with out-of-the-box features like search and filters. Source: https://www.forestadmin.com/usecases

There are 2 ways of installing Forest Admin – by connecting it to an existing app (built in Django, ExpressJS, Laravel, NestJS, Ruby on Rails, and more integrations are on the way) or directly to a database. At the moment, Forest Admin is available for MariaDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MicrosoftSQL Server, and MongoDB. And here is what one of our users has recently told us:

I really appreciate how easy ForestAdmin makes it to make frequent DB schema changes without breaking the UI. I haven't heard of any other tools that are able to handle schema changes so well!

Summary

As you can see, there is no shortage of database tools. Some provide basic functionality, while others offer advanced all-in-one tools used by thousands of team members to manipulate the data. There are also solutions like Forest Admin that let you quickly start with a small project and then easily scale it once it grows. If you want to give it a try, get started for free today.

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