22. Dec. 2008

Living in a world of GUIs (Graphical User Interface) many people are no longer aware about what SQL can do. Recently a friend asked me about, is it possible to extract the email adresses of my registered user out of my Joomla? Sure it is!

It is not even difficult and the idea behind was to load them into some email list to send out season greeting to all subscribers. To keep it simple here I will explain it by using a more common wordpress example, but in principle it can be done for any data the same way.

Most email clients are able to import a CSV (Comma separated List of Values) File by default, as also Excel or Access will ‘eat’ them without problems.

Now we have to invoke the MySQL Command Line Client or any other tool which enables us to execute a  SQL Statement hopefully we will ending up with such a prompt:


There we first tell MySQL  to work with the specific database in question.

mysql> use DATABASE     (e.q   use wordpress)

With the command desc we can get a field description of our table.

mysql> desc TABLENAME   (e.q.  desc wp_users)

Knowing about the table structure now, with select we can extract the data wished:

mysql> select user_nicename as Name,user_email as Email from wp_users;
| Name  | Email               |
| admin | admin@localhost.com |
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Seeing the output and being sure about the result will match our needs we are now finally going to spool the query result into a file:

mysql> select user_nicename,user_email into outfile ‘c:/temp/u_emails.csv’ fields terminated by ‘;’ from wp_users;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.01 sec)

Content of “c:/temp/u_email.csv”:


or as variation:

mysql> select user_nicename,user_email into outfile ‘c:/temp/u_emails.txt’ fields enclosed by ‘”‘ terminated by ‘;’ from wp_users;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.01 sec)

Content of “c:/temp/u_email.csv”:


And now it should be easy for you to import all emails addresses within your email client’s address book.

23. Nov. 2008

Being forced to work with MySQL Databases, not every Web Developer is familiar with databases in general.

Now the good news is that when working in a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) environment you do not really need to have deep knowledge about relational databases to succeed.

Most tools like CMS do a full automated setup for you and the only knowledge it needs to have starting with them, is the server and database name and finally the login credentials (username/password) to access it.

Just later on the one or other maintenance work will occur and you will feel the need of having some nice and neat database interface to work with. Knowing about this need today I will recommend you a few tools and you should feel free to choose one or each of them based on your platform and taste.

The first tool I will recommend you is called phpMyAdmin. It is written in PHP and as a so called browser tool it works platform independent and flawless in all common browsers. Very often being offered by hosting providers it is mostly already part of your hosting package and easy to access and use. Coming along with all necessary options like browsing and navigating through your databases, it also offers a SQL interface and the often necessary export/import options. Personally it is my favorite tool to work with.

Once you are familiar with phpMyAdmin, phpMyBackupPro is another very similar tool you might find it worth to look at. Also browser based it is mainly written for interactive exports and imports, but can get also use for scheduled automatic backups.

For Windows platform only I would like to recommend you a tool called MyDB Studio. Coming along with a well designed interface it offers all features you need and the license it needs is given away for free in case you only use it for private and non commercial interests. It just needs you to give them a valid email address and the key is emailed to you quickly after.

And now finally and last in case you are such a Macintosh guru, I would like to recommend you CocoaMySQL. It does a similar great job like the others and can get used right away after the installation has taken place. What I like is the console view of is, showing you all command issued during the past and looking at it you might even learn some SQL (Structured Query Language).

20. Nov. 2008

As a Web Developer we sooner or later maybe required to work with a CMS (Content Management System), perhaps out of own interest or plainly being forced by a customer request.

The idea behind such tools is the try to separate the data from the presentation layer. Following this approach later on it will be easy to change the look and feel of your site just by changing or updating the template used, immediately all content pages will get shown in that brand new look without changing them one by one.

Setting up such a CMS is fairly easy, first by uploading all files that come with it to your server. We now need to put together your database details as they are the key to your central data store and specifying them together with a few other essential (but usually not difficult to answer) questions during a typical setup procedure. From then on it is just learning about and working with the tool ├▒specify what tool, is it CMS(?) – to get your site ready to use.

Your site, usually developed on your own server, or within a subfolder of the original environment sooner or later you may find the need to move your installation.

In all cases the principle process is the same. Following the idea of a CMS, data can be either located within the file system, the database, or within both. So moving a CMS always requires moving both!

We have already given you a few tips here about how to move the files between servers quickly and therefore we will now focus on the database data only.

The main benefit of a database is that the data is stored within, in a very efficient way for accessing it quickly and in a structured way. Most databases come with some binary data export/import tools for transferring both data and structures.

Making a WordPress move and the usual MySQL database, phpMyAdmin is the tool of our choice. Mostly offered by the hosting provider itself it is often part of your hosting package and easy to access.

Once started it offers you a nice and neat surface interface enabling you to work with your database and it hopefully will not take you long to get familiar with it. With the main view opened and looking at your database the menu directly offers you the options export and import. Now choosing export we usually can go on with the offered defaults. But to prevent problems I would recommend you to ensure that the check boxes “Add DROP TABLE” and “Complete inserts” are checked and “Export type” is defined as “INSERT”.

With this set we can now press “Go” and the result will be a long and curious screen output containing both, the data and all necessary SQL (Structured Query Language) elements, later on it is necessary to re-import this data.

This output we will now cut & paste to an ASCII Editor of our choice and the reason for this is there maybe references pointing to structures of the old server we now have to change (now hopefully making them “relative”). Within the editor this can be done easily by using the usual search and replace function.

Importing the data back into the database or transferring it to another one, we now copy & paste our content back into phpMyAdmin and connect to the new target database. For the re-import I recommend the SQL functionality of the tool. There you can just paste your script into the big SQL input field and finally press the OK button below. And after a few seconds of processing, a friendly message will tell us that our data is stored back within the database.

Having ported both – data and files – we finally need to change a few runtime settings of the WordPress installation.

Once again you should be aware that we are working with two different locations; database and filesystem and you will understand tweaks will be required to both.

All the necessary information to access the database is stored within a file wp-config.php. We should remember that file as it was part of the initial installation we did earlier.

Now we open this configuration file within an editor of our choice and replace the relevant parts e.q. username, password, database, server and table prefix with the correct new values.

Finally and as a last step we have to head back to the phpMyAdmin and navigate down to a table called  wp_options. Browsing the content of this table we will see two option rows siteurl (option_id=1) and home (option_id=39) which contains the old site URL as an argument. Adjusting them with the new site URL will finally allow us to run the WordPress on our new Server without issues.

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