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Introducing trueDAT4

January 12th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

God bless open source software.

By now I think folks who are cognizant of it at all pretty much know and agree that it makes the world a better place.  I think there is no better way to experience this than by taking stock of the open source contributions which have helped you while making one of your own.

trueDAT is the home-brewed database GUI tool that I’ve been using for over 8 years now.  The original tool to go by that name was conceived by Charles Guthrie back in ’03, in Classic ASP.  It was then a roguish way to get development work done on a network of servers where the admin overlords expressly forbid the installation of a more conventional and heavyweight solution like myLittleAdmin, and I loved the spirit of taking matters into one’s own hands and crafting the tools necessary when other solutions were unavailable.

In early ’05 as I was getting my own chops at web development I took a crack at writing a version 2.  I wanted to add a few useful features which I knew would be useful after months of working with the original.  The notion of creating things to scratch your own itch (as brilliantly articulated by 37 Signals) is a powerful premise indeed.

Three years later, with the sexy possibilities AJAX and MooTools well under my belt, I created trueDAT3.  Lee Robinson, one of my design peeps at Playground Creative, provided me pretty pixels so that my database tool would be a little zen garden of a workspace.  I don’t know if you know this, but a lot of developer tools are ugly, spartan, rough on the eyes (trueDAT1 and 2 were no exception!).  I realized then that developer tools should be sexy.  They make the work that much more enjoyable.

Now, three and a half years later still, we are at the current day.  I’ve matured a bit as a web craftsmen, enough to take real stock of all the contributions which have been made to me by complete strangers who thought well enough of the world to share their teachings, code, and skill.  Doing so makes me desire deeply to give something back, and thus I figure perhaps some good will come of sharing trueDAT with the world.

Version 4 adds in the features which I’ve come to recognize as useful after years of enjoying the last one, and opens things up drastically to be a bit more openly applicable for folks.

The result can be found at trueDAT’s own little website, truedat.us.  There you can tour the features, download the source, demo it out on a database filled with data that you don’t care about, and even go fork it on GitHub.

I have no idea how many people will ever use this, or even if it will ever catch on in any significant way.  Before any of that happens or doesn’t happen, though, I sit here now super satisfied to have put this all together as a gesture of following in the footsteps of my heroes of this trade.

Here’s to the great contributors of open source, who by their generosity have taught and given us all so much.


This is Programmer for Hire, a series of essays and explorations on the art of being a great programmer doing on-demand custom software development.

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