April 18th, 2003, 10:40 AM
dbExperts PostgreSQL First Impression
I just had the dbExperts trial version of PostgreSQL installed on my Windows NT workstation at work this morning. It is definitely very cool.
The installation went very smoothly. It has a packaged installer that you double-click and walkthrough. I'd like to have seen more options (there were only three total screens before the installation began) that can be set at installation, but there were no problems. After a reboot, the process was running without a hitch.
It appears to be a VERY polished cygwin environment. You get a bash shell to work with the postgresql installation from as well as a configuration tool for editing the pg_hba.conf file. There's also a Tcl/Tk based pgAccess application that is basically an Access-cloned interface to object manipulation (forms, queries, tables, functions, etc.). It's sort of limited, but it's not too bad. It appears that you can attempt to import files using this tool, which is nice, but I haven't tried it yet. The only major gripe I have about it is that the error messages it returns are probably too cryptic for the target audience. For example, when trying to enter 'bar' in a real type field, I received:
which would doubtless throw the average access user into a tizzy. Also, deleting records on tables with it isn't terribly intuitive. You have to place the cursor at the end of the data in a field and hit "Delete" whereas I had expected some way to highlight the entire record. It took me 2 or 3 tries to figure it out. Still, it's not bad considering. It has your obligatory help file and it makes a nice tool for performing rote tasks such as creating and altering tables and users. Overall I'd say pgAccess is a good tool for DBAs to perform repetitious tasks, but it's not ready for end users (yet).
As for psql.. well.. it apears to be psql in all of it's glory. The trial is 7.3.2 which is cool. The only problem is that, since it's such a stripped down bash shell, it appears you always have to use -U or you'll go into psql (without warning) as the (fully priveleged, initially password-free) postgres user. There are some tools like 'id' and 'whoami' that will help you out some, but still, running 'trust' is dumb, and on this setup it could be downright fatal. Otherwise, the shell is fairly good. You get the readline capabilities that are normally missing from Windoze (thank god for tab-completion) plus, unlike the default setup in NT, you don't automatically go into INSERT entry mode after every freakin' command. Unfortunately, however, you still can't scroll the window to see the results of a long ls or whatever. You CAN pipe it to less though, and you can get a full list of everything you can use by doing this:
and then placing the cursor under the pipe and pressing tab twice. It appears you also get all the scripts such as createdb and dropdb if you have an aversion to psql for some reason.
Overall, my initial impression has been very positive. I'm going to load a dictionary into it and test it with my "word descrambling" perl script (which is currently suffering from the fact that some idiot made a 601,000 word "dictionary" which I put into Access to check against.. 601K words? Give me a freakin' break... that could be cut by about 90% if they took out all the phrases, mis-spellings and plain stupidity). Once I get it tested, I'll update my review to include my impression on the performance end.