Navicat 12: An Overview

Ask a database administrator (DBA) to name their most cherished tool, and they’ll usually say it’s their database management (DBM) system.  Sure, there is the occasional hold-out that hasn’t moved on since the days that DBAs used the command line to create, edit, and delete databases, but most would agree that a good DBM is the crown jewel of their arsenal.

There are DBMs for specific databases and others who support many popular vendors.  The Top 10 MySQL GUI Tools slideshow presented a few of the most popular DBMs.  Being a tool that you will no doubt be using a great deal, it’s vital that you carefully enumerate and weigh all of the features that would benefit you most.

While you’re deciding, I will be evaluating Navicat’s latest offering: Navicat Premium 12.  It’s a robust solution that is geared towards DBAs who would benefit from being able to connect to multiple databases simultaneously as well as migrate data between them in a seamless and consistent way.  For this review, I’ll be approaching the product from my perspective as a MySQL developer who occasionally imports data from other database products.

What’s New in Version 12

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to state before moving on that I personally use Navicat Enterprise.  I like the SQL Editor, Visual SQL Builder, and numerous import/export options.  In recent editions, the makers of Navicat Enterprise added Cloud collaboration, which was a real game changer in the DBA field.  Version 12 introduces a number of UI improvements over its predecessor, including:

  • A brand new user interface
  • Open favorite tabs automatically when Navicat launches
  • Code Snippets
  • Advanced Code Completion with better suggestions
  • Brand new Structure Synchronization: visually show side-by-side DDL comparison between two databases
  • Brand new Data Synchronization: show particular status to distinguish the differences between records easily
  • New Automation: easy to find desired profiles and create automated batch jobs
  • Improved responsiveness and performance

In fact, there are too many new features to explore in one article, but I’m curious about …

The New User Interface

I never had any issues with the old UI, but I have to admit that, with a streamlined working environment and improved button layout, the new user interface does help me to accomplish complex tasks faster than before.  Some of the changes which improve the usability and accessibility of Navicat include:

  • Using a shortcut to create new query
  • Adding your favorite tabs to On Startup and have them open automatically when Navicat launches
  • Using MacBook Pro Touch Bar to easily access Navicat features and controls

Here’s a before and after comparison of the two latest versions:

Version 11
Version 11


Version 12
Version 12

There’s no question that the new UI is a lot sleeker looking.  Among other things, there’s a new details pane on the right-hand side that shows various properties of the selected object(s) in the other panes.

Code Snippets

Navicat 12 contains a collection of predefined snippets, or you can create your own custom snippets that you commonly use. You can drag a snippet into the SQL Editor to reduce the amount of time spent on writing repetitive code and decrease the potential for errors. You can also add placeholders in a snippet, or make changes to the specific parts of a snippet by tabbing between the placeholders while modifying the snippets in your SQL.

There are two ways to insert a snippet into the editor.

  1. The makers of Navicat have fully revamped the code completion feature to support additional keywords and suggestions, and made huge improvements to the efficiency and accuracy of autocomplete.  As you start typing the name of a snippet in the editor, the smart code completion will pop up a list of suggestions for the word completion. Select a snippet name from the list to insert the code in the editor.

    Code Completion
    Code Completion

  2. You can simply drag and drop a snippet from the library into the editor.

    After inserting the snippet in the editor, you can easily navigate between the placeholders to enter information by clicking on one of them, and then using the TAB key.

    Design Snippet Dialog
    Design Snippet Dialog


One of the key tasks of a DBA’s job is the scheduling of automated jobs, including the running of queries, reports, backups, as well as transfers, synchronization, and the importing/exporting of data. All of these may be setup in Navicat to automate executing jobs at one or more regular intervals, beginning and ending at a specific date and time using your operating system’s task scheduling capabilities.

Although not entirely new to version 12, it does take an entirely new approach to job automation. The new Automation utility comes with a more intuitive interface for finding desired profiles and creating automated batch jobs.  Moreover, you can define a list of jobs to be performed within one batch job, either run it manually or at the specified time/interval.

Here’s a screenshot of a job that I set up to copy tables from one database to another:


It was all quite easy.  I really appreciate the send email feature because I like to have some kind of confirmation that my job ran as scheduled.

Send Email Settings
Send Email Settings

The All-New Engine

The makers of Navicat 12 really put some effort into improving responsiveness, usability, and performance, and it shows.  Performance is much improved by the entirely re-engineered engine. It now employs multithreading, so that certain tasks may be run in parallel to increase the overall efficiency of the application.

Structure and Data Synchronization

Navicat 12 introduces a new mechanism for structure synchronization. It provides an easier and more intuitive way to visually compare and identify the differences between two databases. And it shows side-by-side DDL comparison that makes it easy to locate all the object differences. You can then choose and reorder your synchronization scripts to update the destination database.

Data synchronization also comes with a new look along with a number of new functions. The comparison results are now listed and colored for particular status to help you easily distinguish the differences between records: different, only in source, only in target, and identical.  You can then reorder your deployment scripts and update the target to match the source for some or all of the records.

Choosing an Edition

I noticed on the product page that there are several edition and license options to choose from.

Starting with platforms, Navicat Premium is available for the three big OSes: Windows, macOS, and Linux (coming soon).  The Windows version features the Report Building Tool, and is packaged with two Navicat Report Viewer licenses, while the Linux version does not support connections to Microsoft SQL Server.

From there, you can select between the Enterprise and Non-Commercial editions.  Navicat’s Non-Commercial Licensing Program offers Navicat at a substantial discount, making Navicat more affordable for educational and non-profit organizations and individuals.

A single Enterprise license will run you $1,299.00 USD, while the equivalent Non-Commercial license goes for $599.00 USD.   The Navicat Site License Program (SLP) allows corporations or institutions the right to use a specific number of Navicat licenses concurrently in one physical location. The Site License Program maximizes users’ productivity, allowing multiple departments to efficiently manage database(s) across the organization. It provides a discount of 15% off for 5-9 licenses and 20% off for 10 or more licences.

Right now Navicat Premium is only available in English, but other languages will be coming soon.

All versions come with a 14 day trial period, during which the product is fully functional.


Ask 10 DBAs what their favorite database management tool is and you’re likely to get 10 different answers because everyone’s needs are different.  In reviewing Navicat Premium 12, there can be little doubt that this is an Enterprise level tool.  It’s not the least expensive option, but has features by the bucket load. 

For someone like myself who needs to manage multiple databases in a high-availability environment, Navicat Premium is a far more robust solution than most.  

Visit the Navicat site for more information on Navicat Premium 12.

See all articles by Rob Gravelle

Robert Gravelle
Robert Gravelle
Rob Gravelle resides in Ottawa, Canada, and has been an IT guru for over 20 years. In that time, Rob has built systems for intelligence-related organizations such as Canada Border Services and various commercial businesses. In his spare time, Rob has become an accomplished music artist with several CDs and digital releases to his credit.

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