Product Reviews

MYdbPAL Professional 1.0

I guess this is my issue to mess around with innovative drag and drop interfaces. That certainly fits MYdbPAL Professional, a tool for database developers and administrators. It's a bit hard to describe what dbPAL does, because it does many things. Here's a taste of what you'll find in this package:

- A database schema editor that supports forward and reverse engineering, versioning, and multiple database types. You can even reconcile changes across, say, an Oracle database and a matching SQL Server database at the same time.
- Data extraction, loading, transformation, and synchronization. You can synchronize full or partial databases.
- Design documentation and data modeling capabilities for the start of the database lifecycle.
- Direct database modification or DDL script generation for later use.
- A scripting language that allows saving complex combinations of commands as jobs that can be executed later.
- Global schema editing for bulk changes to properties such as names, field types, or field sizes.
- Dependency tracing for database objects.

In sum, there is a *lot* here. You really have to work with this tool to appreciate it. The schemas are product-agnostic but product-aware. That means that you can work in a purely logical realm, without being concerned with the physical differences between different databases. But MYdbPAL is also aware of the differences; it will tell you when a name or a trigger or some other construction isn't portable, and optionally fix things up for you when it can. This means that one tool can handle your needs for Access, Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, and many other databases.

As I suggested above, MYdbPAL uses a drag-and-drop metaphor almost everywhere. Drag to create an operation, drag objects to fill in the operation. For example, you might want to create a new (abstract) schema from a database. First you drag and drop the operation to a working area. The operation has places for you to drop the schema file, the database file, and the user name. When you're done filling in pieces, you drop the whole operation in one spot to execute it...and drop it in another to view the results.

The end result is an innovative programming environment that works quite well once you get used to it. And the creators are to be commended for getting out of the usual modes of design. Try it and you might just find it to be incredibly productive. Of course, you have to stick with it long enough to get up the learning curve, but it only takes an hour or two (thanks to a lot of built-in user assistance) to start to get the hang of how MYdbPAL works. When you get serious about using it for a project, there's a 450-page manual as well.

MYdbPAL comes in several versions. For Access development, you can use MYdbPAL for Access, which can import from other databases but only creates and manipulates Access databases. Other single-database versions support SQL Sever, MySQL, DB2, and Oracle. I worked with MYdbPAL Professional, which can write to any supported database. There's also a dbPAL Universal, which adds multi-user, client-server and Internet development features. I'll take a look at that version in a future issue of Developer Central.

If you've been doing database work for a while, whether as a developer or as a DBA, you should definitely take a look at this one. I hit a few tiny bugs when I was messing around, but no showstoppers. And after a few hours of experimentation I could think of half a dozen past projects involving database revisions where this tool would have made things a whole lot easier. You can find MYdbPAL (including a 15-day trial download) at http://www.it-map.com/Pages_Products/1_dbPAL/P1_database_tools.htm.

[This review originally appeared in

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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Reader Comments:

Sat, May 15, 2004 Alastair Calgary

Pile of poo - hopeless interface

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