Saturday, February 09, 2008

Why is MySQL popular?

Maybe this is like asking why Windows is popular, or why Buick is popular, but... why is MySQL popular?

I wouldn't be able to use it anyway because we use XML types in our databases. But most of the things I've ever heard are bad things about MySQL. For example, at one point the developers didn't think that foreign keys were useful, and actually wrote defenses of not having them.

I haven't used MySQL for a production tool in a while, so is it purely speed that brings people to MySQL?

I guess the benchmark I think of is, "Would I trust my money to a bank using MySQL?" Would you trust that bank? If so, why?


Jon said...

To start: it's free, but you can buy a support contract; it's (relatively) fast for simple yet common use cases; it's well-supported by most open source software; and the source code is available for those that are interested in toying with it.

Trimbo said...

So why not use PostgreSQL?

Jon said...

PostgreSQL is my personal preference, so I'm not sure how well I can argue for MySQL specifically.

Many people started using MySQL (for some reason or another) and have simply continued using it because they find it comfortable.

Perhaps they started with it before a native Win32 version of PostgreSQL was available.

Perhaps they started using it because it was readily available as part of their Linux distribution.

Perhaps they read an article about LAMP and decided that they might as well start off with MySQL as well as anything else.

Perhaps they needed a database for something like WordPress for which MySQL is natively supported and PostgreSQL is not.

These days, perhaps they will start using it because they like the fact that it's development is sponsored by Google and Sun.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that, for most folks, MySQL is entirely adequate for their needs, and once they start using it, there really aren't that many compelling reasons to switch to another database package.