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I found it misleading that there are so many graphic interface tools to query and update the data in MongoDB. The hardest bit is to find an honest opinion if it’s any good to use. I had to try as many of them as I could find, and below is what I think about them. Note that I have a relational databases background and my criteria are specific to my MongoDB use case:

  1. How easy it is to query the data, including the SQL (or SQL-like) syntax
  2. How easy it is to insert one document
  3. If document editing is also easy
  4. How data types are highlighted
  5. As data in MongoDB is unstructured, schema analysis feature is quite important
  6. Is it able to connect to both local MongoDB engine and MongoDB Atlas cluster

Another criteria is price, although I found that prices in this area are in general lower than in RDBMS world. I have sorted apps from the best to worst.

Free apps

MongoDB Compass

MongoDB Compass

  1. MongoDB query syntax split into separate fields. Pop-up code suggestions.
  2. “Insert document” button disappears as soon as projection is used, which is not obvious. Otherwise insert screen is very user-friendly.
  3. User-friendly update interface. In-line update in table view is supported, unless projection has been used.
  4. Data types are colour-coded, but there’s no obvious distinction between Int and Double types, for example. Object data type in table view is unfolded on the separate page.
  5. Schema analysis is available in the full version, quite a good one.
  6. Easy to connect to any MongoDB engine.

Not a perfect tool, but it’s free, so it’s the ultimate winner. The full version is free if you’ve got a subscription, but I have filled in the form and got it. Either my trial will suddenly expire one day or they give it to anyone who asks politely. (Another possibility is they have figured out from my email address that my company has a subscription.)

Robo 3T (formely Robomongo)

Robo 3T

  1. MongoDB shell syntax. No help on query code.
  2. Blank window with no help for document insert, although JSON validation is available.
  3. Same for update, you must be 100% confident in your coding skill and know your data by heart.
  4. Data types are marked with icons. Object type is not unfoldable in table view.
  5. No schema analysis.
  6. Easy to connect to any MongoDB engine.

Very basic interface for a shell. Only suitable for those who can write code with their eyes closed.

Mongo Management Studio

Mongo Management Studio

  1. Only console query window, no code hints, no code highlighting, no query builder.
  2. Blank window for document insert, JSON validation is available.
  3. Cells could be edited individually in pop-up window, not a pure in-line edit, but quite close to it.
  4. Data type is both colour coded and explicitly defined in the top right corner of the cell, same in tree view. Object field unfolds into edit pop-up window with JSON.
  5. No schema analyser.
  6. I have connected to Atlas, but had an authentication error when tried to access collection. As I have used eight other tools and none of them had this error, I believe this is a tool specific.

It is said on the app website that the latest supported version of MongoDB is 3.4, the current version is 4. I believe this delay is extremely wrong, and I was tempted to exclude this tool from my review as an abandoned project. Judging from the list of features, free version has limited functionality. However, I couldn’t evaluate the elevated version, there is no option to get a trial licence as any other paid tool in the world has. You can only buy it for €25 and hope for the best. To sweeten the pill, they suggest to include a backup CD with the purchase. I haven’t seen option like that since 2007, the year when a CD drive has been last found in computers.

NoSQLClient

NoSQL Client

  1. MongoDB syntax split into separate fields that appear when needed. I can see in my notes that code suggestion exists, but when I tried to use this tool again, it didn’t work. Either I got it wrong, or it doesn’t always work. Query builder is a chatbot (we like chatbots)! There is no table view on query results; there are many other options, like Tree, Form and View, but difference between them are too subtle to notice.
  2. I couldn’t figure out how to add a document in a Tree view, but in Code view you just add new document to the end of search results and click “Save” button underneath it.
  3. In-line editing is available.
  4. Strings are different from numbers, but that’s all for data types.
  5. They claim that the tool has a schema analyser, but I couldn’t make it work.
  6. Reasonably easy to connect to any MongoDB engine, although it “successfully” connects to non-existent database (case sensitivity!) and it takes time to realise that something is wrong and find out how to switch to another database.

It feels like an ambitious open-source project, but it is extremely full of bugs. Windows is not project primary OS, hopefully it works much better on Linux. Interface is confusing, there is plenty of empty space on the screen, but then you need to scroll to get to the functional element. Personally I wouldn’t open it again, unless great progress on bug fixing will be made in the future.

Paid tools

Navicat

Navicat

  1. Generic query builder is available by default, MongoDB shell query is available as well.
  2. In-line document adding is available in all views.
  3. In-line editing is available in all views.
  4. Data type colour-coding is amazing! Six colours could be assigned to types of your choice (or switched off). Object type is unfoldable in table view.
  5. Colourful schema and data analyser gives me all the information I need. However, the app froze on a large text field stats.
  6. Easy to connect to any MongoDB engine.

This is my tool of choice: as you can guess, I like colours! Also it perfectly matches my criteria. The price is $299 perpetual licence for 1 person, version upgrade has additional cost.

Studio 3T

Studio 3T

  1. Full support of SQL! MongoDB shell query is also available, so as visual query builder.
  2. Blank window with no help for document insert, although JSON validation is available.
  3. In-line editing is available.
  4. Data types are marked with icons. Object type unfolds on separate page.
  5. The schema and data analyser require manual drill down on each field and each aspect of the field.
  6. Easy to connect to any MongoDB engine.

Much more than just a paid version of Robo 3T which you could expect. SQL querying will make the switch to MongoDB seamless for most data people. The basic version costs $150 per user per year, but you have to pay $300 for the version with SQL.

NoSQL Manager

NoSQL Manager

  1. MongoDb syntax split into separate fields. Code suggestions and syntax highlight.
  2. Adding new document could be complicated unless you write a JSON, which could be verified. The easiest option to add a document via graphic interface is to add an empty document and then edit fields.
  3. Each cell could be edited individually with sophisticated pop-up window. JSON editor is also available.
  4. Cell type could be checked by clicking on it, the sophisticated edit pop-up window will tell it.
  5. Simple and informative schema analyser
  6. Easy to connect to any MongoDB engine.

Not an ideal UI solution, but quite solid and functional tool. It costs $98 for 1 person for 1 year.

QueryAssist

Query Assist

  1. Easy to switch between “Mongo” and “SQL” syntax, although it’s just slightly different notation rather than SQL syntax. Pure MongoDB shell is also available. Code suggestions are supported.
  2. Blank window with no help for document insert, although JSON is validated on the fly.
  3. In-line editing is available, unless you have an empty value. Empty value means the field does not exist in the document, so you have to edit JSON to add it.
  4. Data type icon appears on editing. Object type unfolds on separate page with no identifiers in table view, which is hard to read.
  5. No schema analyser is available.
  6. Easy to connect to any MongoDB engine.

This tool is a slight extension to Robo 3T, visually attractive, but has many flaws in the interface. It costs $99 for individuals and $199 per person for teams, but you get the same functionality: they purely rely on your honesty.

NoSQLBooster

NoSQL Booster

  1. Supports SQL, although the query window contains shell code as well. Quite good query builder. Code suggestion exists, but it works weirdly.
  2. Insert is as simple as writing a MongoDB shell script.
  3. Depending where you click, you can either get a JSON edit pop-up window, get to the in-line editor for a single document or open a window with a shell script snippet.
  4. Data type is explicitly defined and has a type icon on a tree view, but nothing in table view. I absolutely love the Object data representation on the table view. Everyone else should adopt the same UI solution.
  5. Simple and informative schema analyser.
  6. Not an easy interface to connect to Atlas, but manageable.

This is a tool created by developers for developers. There is too much code on the screen, interface is over-complicated. Free version doesn’t have the most of the query perks. Commercial use licence is $219, presumably per user; upgrade fee for each major version is $142. Probably, the worst money to quality ratio in this list.

Honorable Mention

Do you know another MongoDB graphic interface tool which I haven’t mentioned? There are a few that I couldn’t get access to due to complex evaluation request process, the lack of Windows version or if the project is abandoned. I could have missed some great tools as well, feel free to point it out to me in the comments. Meanwhile, there is one tool which doesn’t suit me as a primary MongoDB interface, but it has its own feature that deserves to be mentioned.

Aqua Data Studio

Aqua Data Studio

This is a generic tool to query many types of databases. I can easily name a few organisations who could benefit from having it rather than a range of apps for every database system they have. In Business Intelligence you need to be able to query multiple source databases to profile the data before it’s loaded into the Data Warehouse. This is a perfect tool for this task. The price is $499 per user for the first year, subsequent years licence is much cheaper.

As for my MongoDB criteria, it supports SQL syntax and MongoDB shell. Editing and adding documents is simple in-line, but you can only open to edit the first 1000 documents. There is no easy way to navigate to the record you want to edit. Object data type is ignored by many UI elements as if the field doesn’t exist at all. Data type is also ignored when a new value is added, so number is added as a string and you can’t do anything with it. There’s no schema analyser and Atlas connection is not supported.

Kate
Data masseuse

 

Kate writes technical blogs about data warehouses, including data vault.  She recently went to Melbourne for the Advanced Data Vault course with our partners Genesee Academy, you can read what she learned and thought here, or if you’d like to read our MongoDB blogs you can do that as well.

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