I am starting a new category of posts on myDezigns called “Tools I Use”. In my inaugural post in this category I will write about a tool from Altova. Altova is the company that created XMLSpy and MapForce. This post is about another product that they launched almost two years ago known as DatabaseSpy.
DatabaseSpy is a visually rich, multi-database client tool. It comes with two major Editors, one for writing SQL and the second for visually designing and editing tables. It also comes built in with Import and Export functionality currently supporting exporting database data to XML, HTML, CSV and Excel.
One area of this application that I personally appreciate, which could unfortunately be easily overseen is DatabaseSpy’s unique project management support. The default application layout docks the Project Window in the top left hand corner. The Project Windows contains four main folders kinds which cannot be removed: Data Sources, SQL, Design, and Favorites.
This post is part of four part series describing how to work with each of these main sections of DatabaseSpy’s Project Management.
Data Sources encapsulate your connection to a particular database. Since DatabaseSpy works with multiple databases you can hold data sources to more then one database. DatabaseSpy does not have any restrictions that force you to work with a single vendor at any given time. So that means it is possible to have a data source to MySQL and Oracle in the same Project.
Data sources are added from the Quick Connect Dialog. DatabaseSpy provides support for two connection methods: ADO or ODBC.
You have two choices from the Quick Connect Dialog, either you can add the data source to the project or connect to the data source directly. If you connect the data source is automatically added to your project. However, if you wish to add multiple data sources to your project at one time, using the “Add to project” button is useful. This is because the Quick Connect Dialog stays open allowing you to go through the process of selecting another data source.
Another rather simple feature in the Quick Connect Dialog is access to Projects. From the Quick Connect Dialog it is easy to access recently open projects or list all projects in a specific directory. For people like myself who are very project centric and create projects for multiple test cases, this feature is really great! I could imagine Quality Assurance working in a similar way.
Once you have your project loaded with the data sources that you are working with there are few things that you can do with them. If the data source is connected then it will be a green color otherwise it will be orange. Double clicking on a disconnected data source or using the context menu will connect you to the data source. Once connected an arrow appears on the right hand side of the data source allowing you to jump to the Online Browser to view the model tree for the database.
Options for Data Sources
There are a couple of useful options to be aware of for Data Sources. When a data source is selected in the Project Window or the Online Browser the properties for the data source are displayed in the Property Window of DatabaseSpy. By default this window is docked directly underneath the Project and Online Browser Window.
Connect on Open Project – When this option is selected, the data source that is currently selected will be automatically connected when the project is opened. This is useful for people who want to pen their project and get started with a live connection to their database right away. I almost always have this option turned on.
Always show in Online Browser – When this option is selected the data source is displayed in the Online Browser at all times regardless of whether you are connected to the data source. This feature is really not so useful for me since I work primarily with multiple data source in one project and do not want them cluttering the Online Browser. I like working on one or two data sources at a time and do want to replicate the same behavior as seen in the Project Window. But at the same time there are people who probably do not like having to switch between the Online Browser and Project Window and for them this is option would be a time saver.
Other Interesting Properties
In addition to the Options shown in the Property window there are other properties of interest to me here. Particularly the Driver Information and the Connection properties. Connection properties can be directly edited via the property window and are applied when re-connecting to the data source.
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