AppCenter Spotlight: Sequeler

Easily connect to your local or remote database with this friendly SQL client

On elementary OS? Hit the button to get Sequeler.

In the second-ever AppCenter Spotlight, I detailed the apps that users were asking for. One of those was a nice SQL client; at the time, I wrote:

Web developers who love elementary OS for getting out of their way want modern apps to do their jobs with the sort of attention to detail that elementary apps feature.
A few people (myself included) have expressed interest in a native, made-for-elementary OS MySQL app.

Developer Alessandro Castellani felt the same, and he’s delivered with his new Sequeler app in AppCenter. I took some time this month to play with Sequeler and ask Alessandro some questions about himself and his app.

Meet Alessandro

Alessandro—more commonly known online as Alex or Alecaddd—is an Italian developer and product manager at a startup called Ritual Music in Vancouver, Canada.

He attended the European Institute of Design in Italy. He’s always been passionate about digital art, Open Source, and technology; so much so that he moved from Italy to Canada in 2013 to pursue a career in web development and technology. Over the years he’s been involved in graphic design, sound design, music production, video editing, 3D modeling, digital painting, art directing, and more. In our interview, he told me, “Everything that can be done with a computer mesmerizes me and I have to try it.”

“Everything that can be done with a computer mesmerizes me and I have to try it.”

Outside of tech, Alessandro enjoys a myriad of pastimes including Kung Fu, electric guitar, riding his motorcycle, and drawing comics.

The Story of Sequeler

Alessandro didn’t set out to write a SQL client. He actually started writing a Sketch-inspired UX design app, but hit some roadblocks. With his background in web development, jumping straight into a super complex desktop app wasn’t the best experience. “I practically smashed my face against a wall,” he told me.

“I practically smashed my face against a wall.”

He didn’t want to just give up; instead, he decided to redirect his efforts. “A nice and simple SQL client has always been the missing piece in my OS, so I decided to try and build something like that,” he explained.

Sequeler’s straightforward welcome screen
“A nice and simple SQL client has always been the missing piece in my OS, so I decided to try and build something like that.”

Since its initial release in early October, Sequeler has already seen several fixes and major updates including a new UI and significantly faster performance. Alessandro seems to be picking this desktop development up in stride, and having a great time doing it.

The main UI for Sequeler, showing your table’s structure and query results

The Roadmap

Sequeler is a solid app today, but Alessandro has bigger plans for it. “The final goal for Sequeler is to offer a UI capable of doing everything you need in your database, without needing to write a single SQL command—but of course, always giving you that ability.”

Sequeler with its Dark Theme option
“A UI capable of doing everything you need in your database, without needing to write a single SQL command.”

In the nearer future, he has planned improvements to error messages, small updates to the UI, and an improved preferences dialog.

He also has another major update, version 0.5, in the works. In it, Alessandro plans to add exporting functionality, relationship visualizations, and write—not just read—functionalities like CREATE, UPDATE, and DELETE built right into the UI.

Alessandro’s approach to his roadmap and issue tracking sounds smart, too. “I have a pretty detailed roadmap of all the features, updates, UI changes, and other stuff I want to do, but I always take a user feedback or a feature request with high value,” he tells me. “If I think that a requested feature is actually a hidden ‘cry for help,’ meaning it solves an important issue caused by the current UI that I didn’t notice or it’s something really valuable that has priority in terms of usability, I update the roadmap to put it in. Otherwise, I add it to the backlog if I think it’s a good request.”

“If I think that a requested feature is actually a hidden ‘cry for help,’ I update the roadmap to put it in.”

It’s a UX-centered approach instead of merely a feature-driven one, and I respect that. Translating feature requests from proposed solutions into solvable problems is always tricky, and it’s always refreshing to see an app developer with that mindset.

Publishing on AppCenter

Initially, Alessandro wasn’t even planning to release Sequeler to the public, but that changed after his experience developing an app for AppCenter. “I had so much fun creating the UI, the icon, and following the entire process of publishing it on AppCenter that I changed my mind.”

The elementary Developer Guide was his favorite part. “The first approach was amazing. Honestly, the introduction guide you guys wrote is one of the best I’ve ever used. Building the first test app, compiling vala, setting up cmake, and wrapping everything up for AppCenter was a breeze.”

“Wrapping everything up for AppCenter was a breeze.”

Alessandro also pointed out some areas for improvement for AppCenter, and we’ll be working with him on more documentation and examples to make the experience even better for him and other AppCenter developers.

Get Sequeler

On elementary OS? Hit the button to get Sequeler.

Sequeler is available on AppCenter today for the recommended price of just $5. Its code is also openly available on GitHub if you want to check it out or contribute.

More from Alessandro

Following his experiences with Sequeler, Alessandro is planning to tackle his UX design app after all. It’s called Akira, and he plans to release it to AppCenter as soon as he has a simple, stable alpha version.

You can keep up with Alessandro at his website, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, GitHub, Instagram, and YouTube. Be sure to tell him you read Sequeler’s AppCenter Spotlight and share your thoughts!

“I want to use the occasion to thank the people behind elementary OS and all the other developers involved with apps or PRs, you all are really changing the world. And of course, a massive thank you to everyone who has downloaded Sequeler and helped me with bugs and improvements.”
—Alessandro

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