Review: 4 free, open source management GUIs For MongoDB

Genghis, phpMoAdmin, RockMongo, and UMongo free MongoDB database management from the command line

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A failure in UMongo can sometimes result in a Java exception being thrown. For example, if you try to upload into the GridFS a file that doesn't exist, you don't get a nice, neat error message -- you get a stack dump. The system displays a dialog box showing not only the details of the command that had been issued, but a Java stack trace of the exception as well from which it's pretty easy to deduce what went wrong. Although this is disconcerting -- when it first occurred, I wondered if something had broken -- it doesn't derail UMongo. Just close the dialog box and continue working.

While this article was being written, a new version (1.4.0) of UMongo was released. Version 1.4.0 adds support for MongoDB's user roles by providing a graphical interface that mimics the capabilities to be found in the mongo shell's addUser command. It also adds controls for the sharding balancer. For example, version 1.4.0 lets you set the time window when the balancer runs, so you can schedule the balancer to execute during low-traffic periods of the day. The new version also has support for TTL (time to live) collections. When a document is inserted into a TTL collection, the system appends an insertion time. After the specified TTL passes, MongoDB will delete the document.

UMongo's interface is easy to navigate, clean, and understandable. In addition, you have access to plenty of configuration preferences. For example, you can select what type of socket is used to connect (plain or secure). You can also control the details of the connection pool that UMongo uses. UMongo lets you simultaneously connect to as many MongoDB servers as your client system's processor and memory can handle.

My main complaint with UMongo is the same as with the other tools. The only documentation available is on the product Web page, and it's limited to a features list and brief installation instructions.

MongoDB tools with a view
None of the MongoDB management tools reviewed here have user documentation worth mentioning. The thinking seems to be that, with a bit of tinkering, even novice MongoDB users will be able to find their way around. That may or may not be true, but it certainly means you should not turn any of these tools loose on a production database until you've worked with them extensively in a test environment.

Of the tools I tested, RockMongo and UMongo had the broadest selection of features. But only UMongo had complete support for GridFS, though ostensibly Genghis should have as well, once the "Unknown error" issue is resolved. RockMongo only allows downloading the chunks in a GridFS collection, while phpMoAdmin has no GridFS support that I could find. Whereas only RockMongo had the handy database transfer capability, the same can be accomplished in the other tools by exporting and importing, though less elegantly.

phpMoAdmin is fine if you want a tool that's easy to install, but you'll need to spend some time exploring its quirky interface. I really wanted to like Genghis, with its straightforward tabular display, but it needs to solve some functional problems before I could recommend it over RockMongo or UMongo.

None of these GUIs is a complete replacement for the Mongo shell. But if you need to quickly create a new database or collection, rapidly throw together a query, or select and modify specific documents, these can be handy tools to have ready on your desktop. And the price is certainly right.

MongoDB management GUIs at a glance

Version tested2.
LanguagePHP or RubyPHPPHPJava
LicenseMITGPL v3BSDNone
AuthenticationUsername / passwordUsername / passwordUsername / password or MongoDB authenticationUsername / password
Overview statisticsYesNoYesYes
QueriesBSONPHP associative array syntaxBSON or PHP associative array syntaxBSON
Projection documentsNoNoYesYes
JavaScript functionsNoNoYesYes
GridFS supportBuggyNoPartialYes
Index managementNoYesYesYes

This article, "Review: 4 free, open source management GUIs For MongoDB," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in application development, data management, cloud computing, and open source at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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