Promoting Linux Requires Advertising. That's What Counts. TM
GnuCash Personal Finance Manager

Linux Graphical SQL Mangement, Form Design and RAD Tools

[Sitting Penguin] This page reviews SQL data browsing, maanagment, form design and application generators for Gnu/Linux.

Once upon a time (circa 1995), there was a clean, well-defined split between graphical applications and the web. Today (circa 2000), after the web explosion, things have gotten murky, mostly because there has been a paradigm shift in thinking about the web. Where once was a clean distinction between web authoring tools, Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools, and web-to-database gateways, there is now a jumble of features and functions: for example, is PHPNuke a web authoring system? A rapid application development system? A web content managment system? All of the above?. These days, the edges of these systems have merged and overflowed onto one-another. The paradigm shift is that of "Content Management Systems": systems that allow one to publish web sites, maintain interactive communities, and design interactive, data-driven web sites, all of these backed by a powerful database, usually SQL-based.

The paradigm is continuing to shift. People are realizing that web interfaces alone are not that pretty, and suffer from slow response times; whereas the pretty desktop apps are almost never network-aware. This realization is driving efforts such as the Microsoft .net strategy, and the cross-over can be seen in some of the tools below.

This web page is still organized along the lines of the pre-paradigm-shift way about thinking about the web. Thus, it is inherently incomplete and lop-sided in its treatment. In particular, anything that stinks of web scripting has been banished to the SQL Webscripting page.

See Also:

Graphical Query and Management Tools

Managing databases is a chore in any shape or form. Most databases offer only simple command-line interfaces by default. A good GUI graphical database manager, table designer, and query tool is as important to the novice & expert SQL user as a good graphical file browser is to the general computer user.
SQLManager Database Tool (New Listing!)
SQLManager Database Tool is a basic graphical query generator and database browser. Written in Java, runs on Windows, Linux. Open Source, license unclear.

TOra is a toolkit for managing Oracle servers. A rather thorough and complete database browser, a PL/SQL debugger, a storage manager, a server statistics and activity monitor, including perfomance graphs and pie charts, and much more. More features than you can hsake a stick at. Qt/KDE based, runs on windows and Linux. GPL'ed.

Knoda, Rekall, others
Note that many of the fancier SQL packages listed in later sections also provide basic SQL table and query functions, such as creating and modifying tables, creating and memorizing queries, etc. See the sections below. Among such apps are Knoda and Rekall.

pgaccess is a graphical tool for browsing postgres tables, formulating queries, and more. Written in tk, runs on most platforms, including Windows. BSD License. screenshots.

gnome-db consists of two projects: a graphical database designer, and libgda, which abstracts out the access layers to a wide variety of databases. This is one of the leading projects of this kind; as to whether its currently the most feature-rich or advanced, I'm not sure, but its the one with the community mind-share. One of the more interesting aspects is that gnome-db is also defining a set of GUI components that can be included in any gnome application to not only make that application SQL-aware, but also to provide the basic SQL management interfaces to the application users.

gtksql is a graphical frontend tool for Postgres. GPL'ed. Homepage includes screenshots. Has a sourceforge project page

Granger Java SQL
Granger Java SQL is a Java-based Query Tool. Free but proprietary.

The MPSQL Interactive Query Tool for PostgreSQL from Mutiny Bay Software. Motif-based GUI that allows SQL statements to be easily edited, executed and saved to disk. Open Source. See also kpsql, which seems to be a KDE port of the same. Note that KPSQL is GPL'ed. Note that it seems difficult to locate on the net, and so I have created a mirror here.

dbMetrix is a project to develop a GPL'ed, gtk-based GUI tool for managing databases, tables and records. Still in early stages of development. Here's a screenshot. Appreantly limited in support to MySQL, although broader support is intended.

DB-GUI is a graphical perl/Tk-based query tool for databaases supported through the perl DBD/DBI interfaces. Appears to be quite mature and well-used. Last release in December 1999.

Gnome Transcript
Gnome Transcript is a simple database designer tool; supports multiple databases. The project appears to be in hibernation since March 2000.

glom is a graphical database designer for the MySQL database. Based loosely on FileMaker Pro style of operation.

gmysql is a rudimentary gtk-based graphical database designer for MySQL. GPL'ed. Autoconf build environment.

DbcQ Graphical Query tool. KDE-based. GPL'ed.

KDE-based graphical interface to Oracle SQL*Plus. GPL'ed source

Graphical Form Designers and Report Generators

Databases are useless if you can't easily get data into them, and get the data back out again. A 'form designer' is a tool that allows you to design a user interface that is coupled to a database. Its a 'form' in the sense that, like a paper form, it has lots of fields to fill out. Unlike paper, its electronic, and coupled directly to the database. If we create a form to collect customer names and addresses, then a 'report generator' is the software that we use to come up with the report to management about how many customers there were, and what cities they live in. When a form designer/report generator also includes some programming/IDE support, then its commonly refered to as a 'RAD' or 'Rapid Application Development' tool.

I've split this listing into two: this section lists the free tools (GPL/BSD license) and in the next section, the proprietary, commercial tools.

DWI/DUI (Data With Interaction/Data Under the Interface) is a simple system to create data driven applications under Linux. An XML file is used to specify the relationships between database entries and Glade graphical widgets. No programming is required to create an application, however, knowledge of SQL is essential, as is the ability to create XML files. Gnome-based. LGPL'ed.

Knoda is a young but rapidly growing project to create a forms designer and report generator. The forms designer allows you to drag-n-drop GUI elements to arrange then in a layout, and couple them to database fields. The latest version also includes a report designer that allows you to create nice-looking, printable reports. Also includes basic table & query management features as well (create/modify tables, formulate & memorize queries, etc.) Still in an early development stage. KDE-based. GPL'ed.

Bond is a database application designer. It leverages the well-known glade and gtk for visually designing GUI interfaces and coupling them to an SQL data sources. This project is still in early stages, but as some interesting screenshots.

Note that glade is one of the finest GUI designers in existance. This, coupled to its XML-based gui specifications with can be dynamically loaded through libgladexml, makes this a powerful GUI tool. Bond choose to build on this tool to get the GUI function, which makes an interesting contrast to GnuE forms (described below) which chooses to invent a new-but-similar XML markup that defines both GUI elements and the database connections at the same time. So while Bond has a better interface designer, gnue can support more interfaces (win32, gtk, curses, with kde/qt and html/cgi-bin in the future ??)

GnuE Forms/GnueE Designer
GnuE Forms is an XML markup language that defines the connection of GUI elements to database fields. The forms defined in this language can be processed to create interfaces in gtk, Win32 or curses. Supported database backends include Postgresql, MySQL, Oracle, ODBC and DB2. GnuE Forms is still in heavy development, but is usable. GnuE Designer is a RAD tool for visually designing GnuE forms.

GnuE Reports
GnuE Reports is a project to create a report writer. This project is in extremely early stages; only a limited prototype exists.

GNU Report Generator
The GNU Report Generator (GRG) or (UK site) can create reports from both SQL, dBase and flat-text databases. Supports macros, expressions, conditionals, etc. Include Guile/scheme support.

The Kanchenjunga visual RAD tool for SQL-Java development. Alpha-level code, currently runs only on Postgres. Open Source.

Commercial Form Designers and Report Generators

There's a far richer selection of commercial RAD tools, and these tend to be a lot more sophisticated than the free tools. But at prices frequently in the $5,000 per license range, these are definitely not free.
Rekall, from TheKompany is a database designer, report designer and forms designer supporting a variety of popular databases. This is the cheapest of the commercial tools, but is also the most approachable for the novice user. Commercial (proprietary license).

QueryFlex for the SQLFlex database from InfoFlex.

FairCom offers the xxx report writer ...

VPE Inc. sells WebBuilder. Although they do not mention Linux, they do mention that it runs on many Unix's, NT, and AS/400! Scalability galore! Feel free to bug their sales staff ...

MSP (Max Server Pages) from Plugsys is an XBase-language based tool for creating dynamic, data-driven websites. Proprietary, commercial.

RadBuilder from Emediat Systems uses a C++ like scripting language. Interfaces to C++, Java. Proprietary, commercial.

APPX Software Inc. offers APPX, a "mission critical" RAD tool. Proprietary, commercial.

VirtuFlex from VirtuFlex Corp is a server-side, html-embedded scripting language, together with web-based RAD tools to create interactive web pages. (See additional listings of server-side, embedded scripting languages below). Proprietary, commercial.

Empress GUI Builder
Empress GUI Builder -- it is not clear if this is supported on Linux, although the Empress Graphical User Interface Application Builder Demo -- the demo is. Commercial.

ODBC Tools

Very very incomplete list ...
GTK-based ODBC configuration tool. Distributed as part of the unixODBC suite.

Last Updated June 2003 by Linas Vepstas
Copyright (c) 1996-2003 Linas Vepstas. All trademarks belong to their respective owners.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included at the URL, the web page titled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Go Back to the Enterprise Linux(TM) Page
Go Back to the Linas' Home Page