Test-drive: MySQL Workbench


MySQL Workbench is a cross-platform, visual database design tool developed by MySQL. It is the highly anticipated successor application of the DBDesigner4 project. MySQL Workbench will be available as a native GUI tool on Window, Linux and OS X.

Some history

MySQL Workbench has been in the making for a while. Building on from DBDesigner 4 I’m sure there’s a community of anxious MySQL developers who can’t wait for a free and quality ERD-modelling (and more) tool for MySQL. The mysql command-line client is brilliant. I love it and will always use it BUT there’s no substitute for managing entity relationships visually.

I’ve been waiting on MySQL Workbench for ages (more specifically a Mac OS X release). On the day the windows version was released I soon installed it in my Windows XP virtual machine. It works really well but realistically its too painful to use via VirtualBox. Could be a breeze with VMWare Fusion. Anyone tried this?

It really is Alpha

MySQL Workbench 5.1.7 is an alpha release for Mac OS X and Linux which prolly explains why the dmg is only 7 megabytes. Features are missing!

And lift-off

Installation was easy. Typical drag-and-drop to Applications folder installation. First launch was all over in about 10 seconds. Workbench crashed when I tried File -> Open Recent menu item. Strange. Evidence follows:

Workbench Crash

Workbench Crash

And lift-off

On second launch I avoided “Open Recent” menu item. I tried the reverse engineer from .SQL script feature. Workbench smartly recreated a schema from an old project schema.sql I had lying around. I couldn’t edit any of the tables. Workbench complained about a “missing editor”. Maybe it wants to integrate with MySQL Query Browser or something?

Workbench reverse engineer script example

Workbench reverse engineer script example


Getting around an apparently buggy UI I did get to link some tables with many-to-one relationships. The experience was positively engaging. Workbench is already a vast improvement on the kludgy and buggy DBDesigner. Some screenshots to follow:

Workbench many-to-one example

Workbench many-to-one example

And just to verify that the “Open Recent” crash wasn’t an anomaly I tried it again. Kaboom. A rather strange bug indeed.


If you’re going to use Workbench on real projects I advise practicing the “save every 5 seconds” rule. It is but only an Alpha but a very promising one at that. Regardless. I’m excited. I can’t wait for the first stable release. To the MySQL Workbench (and entire team at Sun MySQL) thanks for great tools and a great database. Love it. Bugs and all.

Published in: on February 21, 2009 at 6:52 pm
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