SQL is the most popular and in-demand skill in the tech world, for developers, as well as testers. So, even if you are experienced with SQL, or just getting started, you should consider choosing a SQL IDE.
You might wonder whether you need an IDE when you can use the command line on your computer. However, working with big databases can quickly become cumbersome when just working from the command line.
With that said, in this article, I’ll present the 14 best SQL editors available.
Why SQL Editors Are Essential In Software Development And QA Processes
SQL editors are integral to the software development and QA lifecycle, providing direct database access, enhancing efficiency, ensuring data integrity, supporting collaborative work, and aiding in performance optimization. Their role in fostering a deeper understanding of database interactions and providing a tailored user experience makes them an essential tool for any development or QA team. Adopting SQL editors in your processes ensures a robust, efficient, and error-free interaction with databases, ultimately contributing to the success and reliability of your software applications. Read on to learn more about how SQL editors can help your team.
Direct Database Interaction
SQL editors provide developers and QA professionals direct access to databases, allowing them to execute queries, view results, and make changes in real-time. This immediate access is crucial for troubleshooting issues, validating data, and ensuring the consistency of database operations.
Efficiency and Productivity
SQL editors streamline database-related tasks with features like auto-completion, syntax highlighting, and error checking. This reduces the time and effort required to write, debug, and execute SQL queries. And quick execution of queries and immediate access to database resources mean that employees can accomplish their tasks faster, leading to increased productivity.
Data Validation and Verification
In QA, ensuring data integrity is paramount. SQL editors facilitate the validation and verification of data by enabling the execution of queries to check data consistency and accuracy. This ensures that the application interacts with the database as expected, and data retrieved or manipulated by the application is correct.
SQL editors support collaborative features, allowing teams to work together seamlessly, share queries, and maintain version control. This fosters a sense of community and teamwork among employees. And the ability to save and share queries and results facilitates knowledge sharing within the team, contributing to a collaborative learning environment.
Identifying performance bottlenecks is a critical aspect of both software development and QA. SQL editors help in analyzing query performance, helping teams to optimize SQL statements, index tables appropriately, and ensure that database interactions are as efficient as possible.
Historical Data and Change Tracking
SQL editors maintain a history of executed queries, providing teams with valuable insights into past actions and changes made to the database. This is crucial for understanding the impact of specific queries, tracking changes over time, and auditing database interactions for compliance and security purposes.
Enhanced Understanding and Learning
For new developers and QA professionals, SQL editors serve as learning tools, helping them understand SQL syntax, query structure, and database interactions. The immediate feedback provided by these tools helps in accelerating the learning curve and building confidence in database management.
Customized User Experience
SQL editors can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a project or team, providing a customized user experience. Users can configure settings, create templates for frequently used queries, and set up their environment to align with their workflow, leading to greater efficiency and user satisfaction.
Providing employees with powerful tools like SQL editors empowers them to perform their tasks more effectively, leading to increased job satisfaction. By minimizing the occurrence of errors and reducing the time spent on troubleshooting and debugging, SQL editors help in maintaining a positive work environment. And the time saved and the increased efficiency provided by SQL editors can contribute to a better work-life balance for employees, as they can complete their tasks within regular working hours.
DbVisualizer is the universal database tool used by developers, analysts, and database admins all over the world. It gives database professionals the tools they need to build, manage and maintain state-of-the-art database technologies.
DbVisualizer comes with features that enable you to visually create and manage databases and generate SQL code by drag-and-drop and copy/paste it into other applications. The advanced SQL editor allows the user to write and run queries that speed up their coding and reduce errors with features such as auto-completion and syntax/error highlighting. The user may browse and administer database objects such as tables, procedures, functions, and triggers.
The software officially supports 28 of the major data sources, but any database that can be accessed with a JDBC driver can be used with DbVisualizer.
The software is competitively priced with the cost of a perpetual license being $197/user/year. License renewal is available at a much lower cost, $69, for those who wish to have access to continuous support and software upgrades. A volume discount kicks in at 4+ licenses and discounts are offered to educational institutions, non-profits, and start-ups. Students and teachers may enjoy the Pro features for free. A Free version is also offered, with a limited feature set.
SQuirrel SQL is another open-source SQL client. It works on any platform with a JVM, so it can be used by developers, DBAs and analysts, regardless of the preferred operating system.
The UI is currently translated in multiple languages—English, French, German, Italian, Bulgarian, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, Czech, Japanese, Polish, Spanish, Russian. The list of supported databases is quite large, including Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle database, 8i, 9i, 10g, 11g, PostgreSQL.
Upon installation, you can choose which plugins to install, so you only have the features that you need. I mentioned syntax highlighting for some of the other SQL editors, too, and that’s because I think it’s really useful and makes the editor so much easier to use. You can also create a SQL file with the query you want to save, and open existing files containing SQL statements you want to execute multiple times. There is also the option to store “bookmarks” for commonly used snippets of SQL code.
One of the optional plugins of SQuirrel SQL offers validation of your SQL queries against the ISO SQL standard. You also have the option to save and restore all SQL editors from a previous session.
The SQuirrel SQL is completely free and open-source.
Adminer Editor is a great SQL tool for database developers who are interested in security. This tool supports the following databases: MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, SQLite, MS SQL, Oracle, Elasticsearch, MongoDB, SimpleDB, Firebird, ClickHouse.
The UI is clean, with no unnecessary clutter. It does provide custom skins if you want to change the look, and it’s available in over 40 languages. The main feature of Adminer is its security—the editor has its own set of credentials to control access to the database and SQL editor.
Adminer provides autocomplete for SQL queries, booleans displayed as checkboxes, and highlighted SQL keywords with links to their official documentation. With Adminer Editor, you can execute any SQL command from a text field or file, send messages to email addresses found in the database tables, and search data in all tables.
It’s a free tool that comes as a single file that can be deployed on a server, without any installation required.
HeidiSQL edits data and structures from your operating system running a database system such as MariaDB and MySQL. The software is easy to learn and allows you to connect to multiple servers in one window.HeidiSQL allows you to create and edit tables, views, and procedures so you can customize your data management. The tool also allows you to export the structure and data to a SQL, HTML, or Excel file, as well as export to other servers. In addition, HeidiSQL provides you the ability to manage user privileges and scheduled events so you can organize your data management accordingly.HeidiSQL is a free software.
Valentina Studio is a desktop application that works on all operating systems, so you can use it whether you prefer Windows, Mac, or Linux. Its main target are DBAs, but of course, it’s great for developers and testers too.
Like many other SQL editors, it supports multiple databases: MySQL, MariaDB, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, SQLite and Valentina DB databases.
Valentina Studio has a menu that is easy to read and understand. But the main highlight of this tool is the function browser which allows you to insert functions directly into the query. So if you are not familiar with the exact SQL code you need to write, you can “cheat” with this browser.
Other things I liked about Valentina are:
It can implicitly join tables if they have only one foreign key—this makes the syntax so much easier to read and write, especially with more than two tables!
It offers functions based on links—again, this makes the queries look simpler.
It allows updating the records directly in the query results
Most of the Valentina features are free, but if you need more advanced features, such as query builder, report designer, data transfer between databases, you can go for the Pro version, which starts at $79.99.
Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio has been on the market for a long time. DBAs and database developers can use SSMS to configure, manage, and administer all SQL Server components.
The main features include database and table creation, SQL query execution for adding, updating, and removing data, and the creation and management of stored procedures, triggers, views, and cursors. It highlights SQL syntax errors so you can address them before running your queries. It also allows us to assign permissions (security) to databases and their objects.
It has deployment, health monitoring, and reporting features. SQL Profiler is included, allowing us to analyze the performance of our SQL databases. It may also be used to schedule background tasks.
SSMS available in multiple languages (over 30). The downside is that it only works on machines using a Windows operating system.
The Express edition is free and works great for small apps, and for more advanced apps and databases, there are the Standard and the Enterprise editions, whose pricing ranges from $209 to around $13,000.
PopSQL is another SQL editing tool that can be installed on Windows, or it can be used directly in the browser. It’s a great tool for teams of developers, and DBAs.
Its main feature is that it’s a collaboration tool—team members can share queries. PopSQL supports various databases, including SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MySQL, RedShift, BigQuery, and Snowflake.
It’s possibly the IDE with the nicest UI—it has a very modern design and is easy to use. The queries can be saved and shared with other members, with various permissions on the shared queries (e.g. viewers, editors).
The free edition offers the basic features, while the paid editions (which start from $199) include some really other nice features, such as Slack and email integration, integration with Git, dark mode, track changes, SAML single sign-on (SSO)
Postico is a database client that works on Mac devices. It’s a great tool for developers, testers, database administrators who want to use it for data entry, analytics, and application development.
Postico can be used to work with PostgreSQL local or remote servers. The tool has many security features—it allows encrypted connections, supports client certificates, and stores passwords in your login keychain. Its UI is also very clean, because it is a native Mac OS interface.
Functionally, Postico provides an autocomplete feature in the SQL query view. It also has an autosave feature to ensure you don’t lose any of your work even if you forget to save the queries you’ve been working on. On top of that, they have a built-in feedback button, so in case you come across issues in the app, it will automatically send relevant version numbers, and optionally take a screenshot of the active window.
Technically, all plans are paid (the price starts at $19.99 and goes up to $319.99), but the trial version, which offers 5 connection favorites and one window per connection (but no table filters) has no time limit.
For the time being, SQLGate is also available only for Windows users. It’s aimed at database operators, developers, data analysts, planners, marketers, pretty much anyone who deals with data. They provide a different download version depending on the database you plan to work with, including SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, MariaDB, PostgreSQL.
The UI is clean and customizable, allowing you to select different themes and color modes. It also suggests SQL commands as you type. However, you have to run the query at least once for it to highlight if you have any errors in your SQL code. The tool currently supports 7 languages: English, Korean, Chinese (simple and traditional), Japanese, French, German, and Spanish.
As far as pricing is concerned, SQLGate offers a free version, as well as perpetual licenses and monthly subscriptions. You can also get a free subscription if you are a student. The prices start at $300 (perpetual) and $15 (monthly subscription), depending on your needs.
RazorSQL is a database management tool available for Windows, macOS, Mac OS X, Linux, and Solaris. It’s great for database developers or administrators, especially if they work with some more uncommon databases because it supports an extensive list of databases.
The UI is very similar to that of SQL Server Management Studio, but on top of SQL formatting, it also offers a query builder and supports parameterized queries. You can access the history of all queries, and save SQL favorites that enable you to insert the most common queries into the editor.
RazorSQL works with perpetual licenses which are purchased for life, priced per user. The pricing starts at $92.95, and there is no renewal subscription needed. They do offer a 30 days free trial with all the available features.
Universal database tool for developers, analysts, and DBAs + runs on all major OSes
Free plan available
|From $16.42/user/month (billed annually)||Website|
SQL Editor With Customizable Plugins
Best SQL Editor When It Comes To Security
Popular editor for MariaDB and MySQL
Cross-Platform SQL Editor With Great Usability Features
Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)
Complete Management Tool For Working With SQL Server Database Servers
|$209 to around $13,000||Website|
Collaboration Desktop And Web SQL Tool
Free edition offers the basic features
PostgreSQL Database Client For Mac
Offers 5 connection favorites and one window per connection (but no table filters) has no time limit.
|$19.99 and goes up to $319.99||Website|
Modern-Looking IDE For Multiple Relational Database Management Systems
|$300 (perpetual) and $15 (monthly subscription)||Website|
Multi-Platform Desktop Application For Querying, Editing, Browsing, And Managing Databases
30 Days Free Trial
Open-Source SQL Editor Tool
- dbForge Studio for PostgreSQL
A user-friendly SQL IDE which helps smart suggestions when you are writing your SQL code.
SQL editor with context-sensitive code auto-complete, real-time syntax analyses and fix suggestions.
- Altova Databasespy
IDE with a clean design, that allows you to create charts based on the query results
What do I look for when I select the best SQL Editor? Here’s are the criteria considered for the list:
- User Interface (UI): I want an SQL editor with a clean and responsive UI. In most of my experience with databases, there was a lot of data to go through, so it’s important that the UI is fast and all the menus are easily reached.
- Usability: I look for an intuitive UI that doesn’t have a steep learning curve. For SQL editors, you’d want usability features like auto-complete and error highlighting. If all else fails, at least the documentation should be available and clear.
- Value for $: Is the software free, or only available commercially? Is the cost justified for the tool?
SQL Editors: Key Features
Here are the features you should look for when selecting the best editor:
- Cross-platform capabilities: Does the editor work on multiple platforms or is it restricted to a specific operating system? The SQL editor you choose should be compatible with your or your team’s operating systems.
- Security: You are working with data that may be sensitive, so the data should be secured. Good security and multi-factor authentication should be supported so that database data is not exposed to any unauthorized user.
- Error highlighting: An SQL editor that detects syntax errors can help you write error-free queries before trying to execute them. It’s especially useful if you’re writing longer queries.
- Auto-completing: An editor that offers suggestions and auto-completes the SQL statement you are writing can help you write the queries faster and minimize errors.
- Query builder: This is especially helpful if you are not so well versed in SQL, because you can still write queries with the support of the tool. You can choose the needed statements, clauses and conditions.
Looking for other specific tools? Check out these resources:
- Test Management Tools
- Defect Tracking Tools
- Android Emulators For PCs
- Cross-Browser Testing Tools
- Load Testing Tools
- Server Monitoring Tools
What is SQL?
What is a RDMS (Relational Database Management System)
What is the SQL syntax?
What Do You Think About These SQL Editors?
Have you tried out any SQL editor software listed above? If we left out your favorite SQL editor, comment with your ideas below to share with the rest of our QA community.
Related List of Tools: THE 10 BEST SQL ANALYTICS SERVICES FOR QA TEAMS IN 2023
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