It doesn’t matter whether you know SQL or not, there’s no harm in using a SQL IDE or editor. If you use an IDE, you’ll save time as you don’t have to write a query to create a database table, add indexes, create views, etc. The IDEs will also help you in learning the basics of SQL. For example, if you’ve added an index to a table, you can see the code that the IDE had executed to create the index.
The IDEs ship with various wizards. You just have to fill the text fields and select the options displayed by the wizard and click the submit button to get your work done. In addition to this, you can use an IDE to make some basic changes to the table or backup the tables and restore them. You’ll find several SQL IDEs and editors on the web. The best ones among the lot are as follows:
Best SQL editors and IDEs
DBeaver is an open-source database IDE. It is based on Eclipse and has several features. DBeaver enables you to export the DB table to a CSV file. It lets you dump and restore DB tables. If you’re using this software, you don’t have to remember the queries that you are using often. DBeaver lets you save an SQL query and use it later. DBeaver ships with a session manager utility and it supports tasks. Like the Eclipse IDE, DBeaver supports light and dark color themes. This IDE enables you to compare the structure of two DB tables. When you execute a SQL query, you’ll see results in a beautiful interface displayed below the SQL editor interface. You can edit the table cells and commit them with DBeaver. If your table doesn’t have an index, you shouldn’t use this feature on a production database.
DBeaver lets users create primary keys, index, etc with its GUI. The IDE shows the SQL query it will execute once you modify the tablet property/create keys, etc, and click the “save” button. In the earlier edition of Dbeaver/Eclipse, the corners of the tabs were rounded. In the latest edition of the IDE, the corners are flat. This minor change in Eclipse has made it one of the most beautiful integrated development environments. I’ve been using DBeaver SQL IDE since 2017. I have never faced any issue with it to date.
Must see: Netbeans vs Eclipse
PHPMyAdmin is an HTML based tool for managing the database. Like DBeaver, it is feature-rich and open-source. This application supports several languages. It allows users to manage users and their permissions. It lets users create basic select queries and edit the columns of result rows. PHPMyAdmin allows you to save SQL queries for later use. To save a query, open the SQL editor, scroll down, and click the “Bookmark this SQL query” button. Users can configure this IDE to show/hide table charset, comments, timestamps, etc.
As PHPMyAdmin is a web-based application, you may think that it has some limitations. Well, this is wrong. PHPMyAdmin is a sophisticated and widely used tool. Most of the shared hosting firms give their customers access to PHPMyAdmin so that they can back up/restore the DB, see the result of queries, etc.
Adminer is a good alternative to PHPMyAdmin. It is a web-based SQL Editor/IDE that supports plugins. Unlike PHPMyAdmin that only supports the MySQL database, Adminer lets users work with SQL Lite, Oracle, PostgreSQL, etc databases. It ships with some features that you won’t find in PHPMyAdmin. For example, you can change the position of rows of tables by simply clicking the up/down icons displayed at the right of the table columns. The tool generates a diagram of the database schema and relationships between the tables and displays the same.
Note: To use the above two tools, you’ll have to install PHP and some extensions.
VS Code or Sublime Text
VS Code and Sublime Text allows users to install SQL extensions. If you’re looking for a SQL editor that supports auto-completion and displays results of queries in a better interface than command prompt or terminal, you should install and use one of these two editors. Sublime Text and Visual Code have a nice user interface. They also support various color themes. VSCode/Sublime Text won’t display databases and their tables in a tree nor does it allows you to change the table properties, constraints, etc with a GUI. It will only allow you to run SQL queries and see the result.
The above SQL IDEs and editors are free. If you’re looking for a paid IDE, you should try JetBrains DataGrip. This IDE costs $199/year and it offers more features than Dbeaver, Adminer, PHPMyAdmin. DataGrip analyzes the SQL query when you enter it in its text interface. The query is analyzed in real-time. If the IDE finds an error in the query, it will make you aware of the error. DataGrip ships with a refactoring tool and it can suggest SQL code when you enter few words of the query in its editor. JetBrains DataGrip supports various commercial and open-source database servers.
The above SQL IDEs and editors are cross-platform i.e. you can use them on Windows, Linux, or Mac operating systems to manage a local or remote database (with SSH port forwarding or their built-in remote connection wizard). I’ve used several IDE’s and editors to date. The best ones among them are mentioned above.