[GSoC] Database Explorer within ACP

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[GSoC] Database Explorer within ACP

Post by Haider.cs98 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 4:14 pm

Hey guys, i've had this idea for quite a long time now, GSoC is finally here and i think it's the best time to start this discussion.

So, the idea is basically explained in the subject. I am suggesting we create a phpMyAdmin-like db browser within phpBB ACP. This is a rather big feature and would therefore require a very careful development. Some core features can be (but are not limited to):

1. Forum admins can open database explorer with full access.
2. Forum admins can give access to other ranks or even individual accounts.
3. The access can either be read only or read/write.
- Read only access can help (trusted) members to keep track of their database and debug errors with core access.
- Read/Write access can help members manage database outside of phpMyAdmin. They can hardcode stuff into database if needed (can be any reason).
4. We can extend the access levels even further by letting forum admins select which database tables are accessible by which rank/individual account.
5. The database explorer will work pretty much like phpMyAdmin, instead it will be provided right from phpBB's ACP.
6. Maximum security measures will be taken and admins will have access to get reported with emails of whatever db changes are being made.
7. All the database changes will be logged separately for later reviews.
8. Database admins will be able to execute queries right from the panel with the help of easy controls and user interface.
9. Apart from UI-based queries, the panel will also have a command-line-like interface to run queries from it, in text form (just like we write in php).
... and features keep on going.

The main reason behind this idea is that forum admins may have to give database access to trusted users so that they can help the admins moderate the database and keep track of it. I will say this one more time, maximum security measures will be taken while developing this fragile feature. But once done, it can really help us a lot.

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Re: [GSoC] Database Explorer within ACP

Post by CHItA » Sun Mar 11, 2018 9:17 pm

I don't see this to be a good idea for phpBB. phpMyAdmin is whole project dedicated to do just that and only for MySQL. This would be just too much of a hassle to maintain, and honestly I don't really see this being widely used as you describe it. IMO most admins would just use it as a replacement of phpMyAdmin and wouldn't use the additional features you mentioned, thus we would add a large piece of functionality for a very small amount of people.

In general, we try our best to actually remove as much legacy code as we can, and use well established 3rd party libraries instead. Other than that, we also try to implement the features in core which are requested by a large number of people in the community. I haven't checked the ideas forum recently but I don't recall ever seeing this one mentioned.

All in all, I very much appreciate that you took the time to think about how to further improve phpBB. You are obviously free to propose original ideas for GSoC as well (last year I believe the storage abstraction was not on the ideas list and got selected), however, I just do not see this feature making it into phpBB in the near future. Although this is just my two cents on the subject.

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Re: [GSoC] Database Explorer within ACP

Post by david63 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:25 pm

Good idea for a development tool but on a live board I cannot remember when I last accessed the database - certainly no more than once in the last year, if that.

This would be good as an extension/add-on, but is not, in my opinion, something that should be in the core.
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Re: [GSoC] Database Explorer within ACP

Post by 3Di » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:34 am

Once you have three tabs opened in your browser like:

1 - ACP
2 - Board
3 - phpmyadmin (or similars)

You are done, no need to code a tool or to overload the core code either.
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Re: [GSoC] Database Explorer within ACP

Post by Haider.cs98 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:54 am

CHItA wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 9:17 pm
I don't see this to be a good idea for phpBB. ...
I get your point here, no legacy code. But if such feature is added, and developed as lightweight as possible, i think it can help forum admins. In most of the cases, only 1 actual founder of forums is responsible to oversee the database through phpMyAdmin, which is a big responsibility for one guy. If we give them an option to have some help in this regard, it can be useful. Moreover, I am not saying we should make a replica of phpMyAdmin, it is a bit different thing. The main difference between phpMyAdmin and this new feature will be that forum admins can set access levels in database explorer, so certain forum ranks and members can only view/edit certain database.

But i agree with you regarding use of third party tools. I just thought an in-built tool would give more familiar interface to forum admins as compared to whole different phpMyAdmin or any other tool.

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Re: [GSoC] Database Explorer within ACP

Post by Ger » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:07 am

Haider.cs98 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:54 am
In most of the cases, only 1 actual founder of forums is responsible to oversee the database through phpMyAdmin, which is a big responsibility for one guy.
As it is with the files and the host control panel.

On a normal operation, DB access and file access is rarely needed, only for backups (which should be automated). File access is already needed for updates. Once you have file access, you can upload your own phpMyAdmin or simply read config.php data and use Workbench/HeidiSQL/etc.

If phpBB would make this available through their own interface, you'll essentially be building an application inside another application. And the way I see it, it's very hard to keep the whole thing safe from both a hacking viewpoint as well as abuse and clumsiness from admins.

Let's focus on keeping phpBB fast and stable doing it's core job: provide forums.

You could of course create an extension for this. Basically you only need to tap into the DB, user, auth and language classes, and create some access point from the ACP. I wonder if something like this could ever be validated though.
Above message may contain errors in grammar, spelling or wrongly chosen words. This is because I'm not a native speaker. My apologies in advance.

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Re: [GSoC] Database Explorer within ACP

Post by hanakin » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:22 pm

As the person most likely responsible for maintaining the interface for such a thing please no! You are crossing streams and will make my life hell.
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