myLittleAdmin Web-Based SQL Manager Packs a Big Punch

Friday Aug 6th 2004 by DatabaseJournal.com Staff
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myLittleAdmin is a web-based Microsoft SQL Server database management tool that brings the familiar Microsoft Enterprise Manager look and feel to your web browser.

by Anthony Wilko

Introduction

When a host decides to offer Microsoft SQL Server databases as a feature, customers need a way to access their databases. Usually it is through one of the following ways:

MS SQL Enterprise Manager - Many hosts choose to have their customers use the free built-in desktop Enterprise Manager, which has become a familiar way to edit SQL Server. However, using Enterprise Manager has several pitfalls.

1. It creates a potential security risk for web-hosts; port 1433 has to be open in order for customers to manage their database.

2. It has to be installed on the user's machine, if the user can even acquire the software itself (which is included with the MS SQL installation CD or full download, but is not available separately).

3. It also allows its users to see not only their database, but all databases on the SQL server. While users do not have access to databases other than their own, they already know one piece of the puzzle to getting someone else's data... the database name.

Web-Based Tools - Web-based tools, on the other hand, offer more flexibility and control over what the user can and cannot see. There are a number of free web-based tools out there, such as ASPEnterpriseManager and Microsoft's Web Data Admin, but free tools often lead to poor support, few updates, and are usually incomplete tools as in the case of both ASPEnterpriseManager and Web Data Admin. You also run the risk of potential security compromises if the software is not being constantly revised and updated by the community.

Payware web-based tools are often very expensive and finding a payware solution that is complete, usable and affordable is quite a challenge. That is, until you look at myLittleTools' myLittleAdmin.

myLittleTools' myLittleAdmin

One program that is sure to keep hosted customers using MS SQL , and the hosts who have to shell out the bucks for a good tool happy, is myLittleTools' myLittleAdmin. myLittleAdmin is a web-based Microsoft SQL Server database management tool that brings the familiar Microsoft Enterprise Manager look and feel to your web browser (see Figure 1).

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myLittleTools' myLittleAdmin Interface

Figure 1. myLittleTools' myLittleAdmin Interface

There are two versions of myLittleAdmin. A less expensive web hosting version, which allows you to use myLittleAdmin to access only one database server and has a limited feature set that web hosts need, and an Enterprise version, which has all the bells and whistles and allows connection to multiple database servers through the one installation.

This article briefly discusses the installation and feature set of the Enterprise version since this will give you a good idea of the complete capabilities of this product. This product is so complex we could easily cover 100 pages on it, but for the sake of time, we will try to highlight the product's strong points. Installation

Installation is a breeze. The software comes ready to be unzipped into your web server web root and since it is Active Server Pages (ASP) based, it will easily run on Microsoft platforms running Internet Information Server (IIS) with ASP enabled. Web Data Admin, on the other hand, is confusing to configure because it does not give you the option to put the app where you want it. It just installs through an MSI package, and you are left trying to figure out how to access it. I literally spent 20 minutes just trying to figure out how to move the installation to another site.

Once extracted into the web folder of my choice, the only thing I needed to do with myLittleAdmin was ensure the directory I extracted myLittleAdmin into was configured as an application (see Figure 2).

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Creating an Application in IIS

Figure 2. Creating an Application in IIS

Then, off to tweaking the config file. The config file, contained in the scripts/inc directory, contains all of the settings for enabling/disabling the features of myLittleAdmin. You have a ton of flexibility here as well as the ability to offer varying levels of administrative privileges to allow, say, the system administrator to have full control over just about all of the system features of MS SQL while giving the casual web user access to only their database and a limited subset of features.

Features you have control of include turning on and off features for editing databases, tables, views, stored procedures, users, roles, rules, logins, different tools (such as query analyzer, backup wizard, CSV import, etc), backup devices, custom skins, and more.

Turning privileges on or off is as simple as putting a 1, 2, or 3 next to the appropriate feature, where 1, 2 and 3 are the privilege levels used to access myLittleAdmin.

Once you have modified the config file to your liking, that's it! All you need to do now is browse to the myLittleAdmin path with your web browser and you are ready to log in.

by Anthony Wilko

Using myLittleAdmin

Once you go to the myLittleAdmin main page in your web browser, you will be presented with a couple of different ways to log into the MS SQL server, DSN-less or DSN (Figure 3). DSN-less gives you the most control over how you log into your database. DSN allows you to log in with only the DSN name and a username/password. In either case, you can also log in with a User Level password that grants you extra privileges depending on how you set your config file.

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Logging into myLittleAdmin using the DNS-less Connection

Figure 3. Logging into myLittleAdmin using the DNS-less Connection

Once you have logged in, the interface feels much like Microsoft's Enterprise Manager, so if you have been using Enterprise Manager, you are already right at home. You will see a folder for databases, management, security and tools (Figure 4).

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The Main Menu

Figure 4. The Main Menu

You will notice if you click on any particular database, you will get detailed statistics on the database itself, including file MDF and log file sizes, backup dates, total disk size, and so forth. This is great information for hosted customers to have because it gives them basic information that might not be available in the control panel you use for hosting. You will also notice the many things you can work with including tables, views, stored procedures, etc.

Databases

You can easily create a new database by clicking the Databases folder itself. From this menu, you have several options. These include creating a new database, renaming a database, viewing database info/space usage, generating SQL script that you can use to recreate the database, backing up a database, detaching a database, and deleting a database (Figure 5). This view can be turned on or off for web hosted customers, say for example, if the database was created through a control panel and you did not want your customers to manage the creation/deletion of databases unless it was through your control panel.

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The databases menu

Figure 5. The databases menu

Tables

Clicking on the table menu brings up a list of tables in that database (Figure 6). You have many options from here, including creating a new table (the yellow star at the top right), adding content to the table, searching for data within the table, renaming the table, managing the table structure, (to include relationships, triggers, constraints, and indexes), creating the SQL code to create the table, and deleting the table.

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The table list

Figure 6. The table list

Viewing table content is simple. Click the content icon and you can instantly see your data (Figure 7). From here, you can add data, search for data, create XML, CSV and edit the table structure. Moreover, once you create an index on a table with a primary key, you can then easily edit the data in the table as well (Figure 8).

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Table Content

Figure 7. Table Content


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Edit Table Data

Figure 8. Edit Table Data

Figure 9 shows how detailed you can get with your table structure. You can edit table structure quickly and easily, including defining indexes, relationships, triggers and constraints. All very powerful features of MS SQL 2000.

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Managing Table Structure

Figure 9. Managing Table Structure

Stored Procedures

Stored procedures are a powerful feature of MS SQL. Like just about everything else in myLittleAdmin, stored procedures are a breeze to set up and manage. You can easily edit, view, export as SQL, and delete stored procedures through the stored procedure menu (Figure 10).

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The Stored Procedure menu

Figure 10. The Stored Procedure menu

Creating stored procedures is about as straightforward as it gets (Figure 11).

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Creating a new Stored Procedure

Figure 11. Creating a new Stored Procedure

Managing DB Users

Managing users and their DB permissions can easily be done, just as it can in Microsoft Enterprise Manager, by editing the particular user through the users menu for the database (Figures 12 and 13). Managing Roles is just as simple through a similar menu. Again, these features can be turned on or off depending on your need. Moreover, just like Microsoft Enterprise Manager, you can manage system level users in the same way, separately from the database users.

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Managing DB users

Figure 12. Managing DB users



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Managing Permissions

Figure 13. Managing Permissions

Query Analyzer

Arguably, Query Analyzer is one of the most powerful features of SQL Server, and I am glad to see it as part of myLittleAdmin (Figure 14). From here, all sorts of queries can be run, just like in Microsoft's Enterprise Manager.

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Query Analyzer

Figure 14. Query Analyzer

Management, Security, and Tools

Like Microsoft's Enterprise Manager, myLittleTools can help administrators by giving insight to the system-level operation of their servers. myLittleAdmin allows administrators to create, edit, and delete system users, create backup devices and backup databases, attach databases, watch processes, and see the locks on databases. Unfortunately, unlike Enterprise Manager, you cannot kill processes through myLittleAdmin.

Some of the noteworthy features here include a nifty Generate Insert Scripts feature which allows you to easy create SQL code that takes the data in your tables and creates an Insert script that you can then use to rebuild the table and data, should you need it later.

You can also import data from an external database into your SQL database using a CSV file of data exported from your external database. No doubt, this will come in handy for tons of folks who are trying to move their database from one host to another.

Administrators can easily backup databases to devices they have set up in myLittleAdmin and Restore them as necessary, as well. I would have liked to see the ability to restore a database from a local disk, since I often have customers asking me to restore their database for them and have to copy the DB to the server before I can restore it.

Keep in mind, there are some features missing. Data Transformation Services is not included. In addition, administrative tasks are still missing, like creating Database Maintenance plans and viewing SQL Server logs.

Other things to consider

myLittleAdmin is skinnable. That means you can give it your own look and feel to match your own web site. The code is open and written in ASP, so someone with some good knowledge of ASP can make this tool look even better. You can customize the icons, change the text and so on.

myLittleTools' support is excellent! Prompt, courteous, and helpful. While I have rarely had an occasion to ask for support, it is good knowing it is there when I need it. They are also willing to listen to their customers for ideas and feedback on their products.

Conclusion

A host is only as good as the features it offers. The power, flexibility, and affordability of myLittleTools' myLittleAdmin for MS SQL Server makes this product a must-have if you are going to be offering MS SQL Server hosting and want to keep your customers happy. This product comes highly recommended!

More information

About the author:
Anthony Wilko is president of Infuseweb LLC, a full-featured, affordable Windows-based web hosting company located in San Antonio, TX, USA. He has been working in the web hosting industry supporting individual users and small businesses with web hosting and design needs since 1998.

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