MySQL (http:/www.mysql.com), the web database formely fully open source, then bought by Sun for $1bn, which was then swallowed by the all mighty database giant Oracle (http://www.oracle.com) is finally growing up.
From MySQL 5.0 with the introduction of views and stored procedures (terrible performance) to 5.1 which stabilized the features to 5.5 (the latest GA) version which provides a true relational database experience. Oracle is positioning MySQL as the low-end database to compete against Microsoft SQL Server (http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/), Postgre (www.postgresql.org/), Firebird, Interbase etc, with an eventual upgrade to Oracle at the high end
As a database the tools for managing MySQL database have been “inferior” at best, or needing a commercial license of over $100. The most common tools are:
a) PhpMyAdmin (www.phpmyadmin.net) – web based, opensource and free and one of the best available at the time
b) Adminer (www.adminer.org)- formerly PhpMinAdmin -web based, opensource and free -single file database management tool simpler and with less features than PhpMyAdmin
c) Navicat SQL (http://www.navicat.com) – commercial GUI – probably the best MySQL GUI available
d) Webyog SQLyog (www.webyog.com)- commercial GUI – a similar feature set to Navicat, more powerful but not as userfriendly
e) MySQL Gui Tools (http://dev.mysql.com/downloads/workbench/) – opensource GUI – administrator, Query Browser and workbench – free tools which were merged into MySQL Workbench 5.2 as a single tool
The latest MySQL workbench is making inroads into the territory for commercial tools, as it improves the quality of its adminstration, modelling and query tools.