MySQL Deserves a Double Take
Perhaps the biggest asset that MySQL has going for it is a very large, very active community of users and developers. The sheer number of books, Web sites, mailing lists, help forums and code snippets for MySQL is overwhelming.
For its part, MySQL AB has been doing an admirable job of updating the documentation on a regular basis and of moving forward with new features at an impressive rate. (This demonstrates that although open-source software can often be written by volunteers, having paid professionals work on a project can speed it up immensely.) In particular, I am impressed by the on-line documentation, which includes not only numerous examples, but also intelligently placed links to related subjects.
MySQL has grown up quite a bit since I first began to use it more than ten years ago. Some of its quirks, such as using MyISAM tables by default, continue to rankle serious database users who would like to see transactions and foreign keys everywhere. But, especially with versions 5.0 and 5.1, MySQL is looking like a database that can advertise its depth of serious features, rather than claim its main advantage is speed.
Reuven M. Lerner, a longtime Web/database consultant, is a PhD candidate in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He currently lives with his wife and three children in Skokie, Illinois. You can read his Weblog at altneuland.lerner.co.il.
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