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Best front ends for SQL databases?
October 15, 2010 9:16 AM   Subscribe

What are the current best options for providing a front end for users to search and enter data to a SQL database?

There seem to be a lot of good GUI-based database development and management tools, but from my googling it is less clear to me what the best front ends are to provide users access to your database.

I need forms of some sort. These need to have subforms, because there will be lots of relational links between tables.

The client will need to run on Linux, Windows and OS X, and talk to the SQL server which will be hosted on a Linux box on the network. I'm thinking of using MySQL or PostgreSQL, but I'm flexible on that.

My preference is for a desktop application solution, but I would consider a web-based solution.

I experience doing similar things before in MS Access, but this needs to not depend on Windows, and I want it to scale up in the long term.

Thanks for any help!
posted by tabulem to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Ever taken a look at Ruby on Rails? I don't use I but I have seen how fast and easy it is to set sites up around a DB
posted by zombieApoc at 9:36 AM on October 15, 2010

posted by Blake at 9:43 AM on October 15, 2010

Using a LAMP stack, there's lots of web front-ends that will do what you want with varying amounts of effort on your part - last time I tried my hand at this I used CodeIgniter.

PhpMyAdmin is one step away from what you want - It's a general purpose web front-end, I don't think you can impose your application logic/presentation on top of it.

Also, don't tell anybody I said this but slapping together a database front-end with DevExpress Data Grid is crazy fast and the look-and-feel practically sells itself to people with a Windows background.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:50 AM on October 15, 2010

Seconding Ruby on rails. You can have a front end up and running in less than an hour that runs on all platforms.
posted by empath at 10:17 AM on October 15, 2010

Open Office has an Access like tool that can access network databases, but seriously, this has been what the web browser has been for since 1998. PHP? Django? Rails? All designed to let you write forms to interact with databases. Django even has an "admin" interface that pretty much autogenerates forms to add data with.

P.S. PostgreSQL is great.
posted by pwnguin at 10:24 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Run on the three major OS's and whatever version they happen to be running? Yeah, you need a web based solution here or *shudder* java. You can write it all in PHP and MYSQL and be done with it without a complex CMS/framework/whatever. Not as easy as Access, but doable for someone with some programming chops.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:59 PM on October 15, 2010

I don't have specific platform recommendations, but if this is something that will be available to the outside world, I want to inject a word of caution. Actually, "inject" is the operative word. SQL injection is very, very dangerous, and even if you're using a pretty robust platform that protects you pretty well, you can still end up in trouble from novel attacks and from vulnerabilities in your own code.

None of this is insurmountable, but if you try to get too fancy, you might spend more time protecting against this kind of thing that is worth it for you.
posted by gurple at 3:03 PM on October 15, 2010

Thanks for the answers everyone. It's sounding like I could go with either OpenOffice for a quick and dirty solution (because it looks just like Access, which I'm familiar with), or probably Ruby on Rails for a more sophisticated approach.
posted by tabulem at 5:55 PM on October 15, 2010

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