myLittleAdmin Web-Based SQL Manager Packs a Big Punch

August 6, 2004

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.








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