If any open source application needs no introduction, it’s probably phpMyAdmin, the popular web interface to MySQL databases. MySQL is itself the most popular database system for web applications, and phpMyAdmin makes it easy to administer. phpMyAdmin lets database designers connect to MySQL servers, see all databases and tables they have permission to see, and perform actions on them, including creating and modifying table structure, inserting and updating data, import and export, and synchronizing data between servers.
phpMyAdmin is generally among the most active and most downloaded projects on SourceForge.net. One of the problems with such a popular project, according to developer Marc Delisle, is supporting all the users. “We have a wide range of users, who may or may not be knowledgeable in database principles. As we try to support these persons, it’s not easy sometimes to speak the same language. Another problem is that a web environment like the one in which phpMyAdmin is playing poses all sorts of problems in itself, in terms of operating systems, web server issues, and web browser compatibility.”
You might think such a popular project takes many developers to maintain, but Delisle, one of the project’s leaders, says, “Not counting the translators, we are only four active members at the moment, so coordinating is not really a problem. Other persons prefer not to code but are nonetheless important in maintaining the wiki, helping on IRC, accompanying me to conferences, and so forth.”
The project also welcomes contributions from its users. “This is a community project,” Delisle says, “so yes, people can make feature requests, but we actually count on users to give back to the project by proposing real code to us, or being active with our 60+ translations.
“In recent years, some of our big new features have been implemented via our participation in Google Summer of Code. One of the results from participating GSoC students is to bring in more motivated developers.”
phpMyAdmin has been hosted on SourceForge.net since 2001, despite the fact that alternative hosting services have become available since then. “SourceForge fulfills our needs, so I see no reason to switch,” Delisle says. “At the same time, we notice a big number of ‘thumbs down’ evaluations on our main page at SourceForge from users complaining about download issues. We wish SourceForge could do something about this.”