phpMyAdmin for sale?

I recently came across this article listing SourceForge Community Choice Awards Winners 2008:

“Most Likely to Be the Next $1B Acquisition” is phpMyAdmin? Now I am not sure if phpMyAdmin actually is something that can be acquired and if there is any revenue (directly or indirectly) generated from it at all, but in my opinion phpMyAdmin has reached a point close to the end of its life-cycle, and I can hardly imagine there is anything to pay for. Except for very small additions to support new MySQL versions there has – to my best knowledge – been nothing but bug fixes for around 3 years. No new developments. phpMyAdmin basically provides an interface for viewing the content of tables, to execute statements and scripts and view the result. And that’s it.

And don’t miss it – that is useful in lots of situations. If phpMyAdmin is installed on a *AMP server you can access the database from any computer connected to the Internet without having anything installed locally. But the interface is somewhere in between *just usable* and *horrible* (depending on how it is configured and how it integrates in control panel applications etc.)

As time goes by it becomes obvious that
* phpMyAdmin has missed opportunity to provide ‘power tools’ – like synchronization tools, proper migration/import and export tools, GUI environments for schema design and query design, tools for query analysis and optimization etc.
* The simple HTML interface provided by phpMyAdmin is far away from today’s standard of web applications.

I believe there would be a market for a high-quality web based MySQL database administration tool (no matter the license model) if it adopted modern AJAX based web interfaces. The current phpMyAdmin ‘plain HTML interface’ requires that everything (data, images, stylesheets) of the complete page will have to be reloaded or even resent from the server for every page refresh. That results in huge communication overhead, annoying page refreshes and time waste – even in situations where only a small detail on that page needs to be updated. Today’s web users (whether gamers or just gmail users) expect a web interface very close to that of a compiled binary. Because they are used to it like that, and because they know (and see every day) it is possible.

One of the most common remarks from  SQLyog users, that have replied to our recent user surveys, is “What a relief to get rid of phpMyAdmin”.

At Webyog we cannot honestly regret this situation as we benefit from it and do increasingly much for every day. From a more ‘ideal’ point of view one can say it is a shame (and phpMyAdmin indeed should be credited for its huge contribution to the popularity of MySQL in the early days of MySQL). But my guess is the situation is that ‘the train has left the station. No more trains leaving for the foreseeable future. Sorry for you if you did not catch it!’. In other words: I don’t believe the phpMyAdmin community can mobilize the resources to ‘catch the train’ again – also because they (as a community) do not seem to realize how the gap between their application and the best available other options widens for every day.

Also I do not think this situation is special for phpMyAdmin and the phpMyAdmin community actually – on the opposite I think a large percentage of Open Source Community developers simply got out of touch with how the Web has developed over the last 2-3 years. Another good example is the Linux/KDE Konqueror program. I love it because of the many access/connectivity options it provides in one interface, and should I ever shift from Windows to Linux as my primary platform Konqueror would be one of the main reasons .. but (regretfully) it is hardly usable as a webbrowser any more as it did not adopt modern web standards.

Further it is interesting to see how the relationship between PHP and MySQL in general has also changed over the last years. 3-4 years ago they were mostly so closely related that lots of users did not realize the difference and were not able to think of MySQL in other contexts than a PHP-context. We had several complaints at that time from users, that were simply not able to realize that PHP statements and syntax could not be used in the SQLyog SQL editor – and lots of users thought that PHP was a prerequisite for accessing MySQL (and also lots of ISP supporters and even sysadmins told their users so, because even they did not know better!).

But ‘used-to-be patterns’ are breaking up! Examples:
* Since first version 5 release PHP has shipped with the SQLite database. I have seen quite a lot of standard PHP web applications shifting in direction from MySQL to SQLite as their primary/default database option. Also ‘RUBY on the Rails’ project is in that process, I believe. And in particular with ‘shared hosting’ that makes good sense in my opinion as everthing – also databases – are stored  in user’s own space on the server (the drawback is of course that direct access to the database bypassing the application can be a problem).
* According to the survey here (at the bottom) JAVA is now an equally important client environment for MySQL based applications as is PHP (and this is not because of the acquisition of MySQL by Sun – it started long before that).

Anybody out there want to buy phpMyAdmin (I can spare a few copies!) ?