MySQL is a relational database management system (DBMS). It is the most popular DBMS in use today. Its popularity is due to several factors including:
- MySQL is open source software, freely available and anyone can contribute to it. It also has a proprietary edition run by Oracle.
- It is an integral part of the LAMP stack, the most popular server stack in the world, making up the ‘M’ in the acronym.
- The top 3 website content management systems, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal all use MySQL to manage their content databases.
- It has existed for decades, and has been steadily updated into mature battle hardened software. Its age has allowed a huge and knowledgeable community to develop, very helpful for beginners.
- It is widely available on shared web hosting packages and can be installed in minutes.
MySQL runs as server software when activated. Programs or humans which want to interact with MySQL make a connection, usually by logging in with a user name and password. The connection can be made remotely or from the same computer. Database operations are performed with queries written in a programming language called Structured Query Language or SQL.
Sometimes we find ourselves needing to make manual changes to a database. MySQL comes with a command line where SQL commands can be written and executed immediately. A more user friendly option is to use one of the many MySQL tools available. These tools provide a graphic interface which show database tables visually. We use MySQL Workbench on our PCs and phpMyAdmin for managing databases in the web browser.
While the most popular, MySQL is not the only game in town. Other systems for managing relational databases include:
- MariaDB – a fork of MySQL made by the original developers of MySQL with better performance. We use MariaDB instead of MySQL in our own web hosting.
- Microsoft SQL Server – a part of the Microsoft ecosystem.
Read more about MySQL at the Wikipedia MySQL article .