ERD Designer

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So what are you using for an Entity Relationship Diagran (ERD) tool? I'm teaching a class at the University of Washington and we're doing that part of the class now. I normally use Visio, but find it a little less than perfect for this. And some of the students can't afford to buy it, so I looked around for a free alternative. There's this one: http://ondras.zarovi.cz/sql/ which is OK but doesn't show the standard "crows feet" for cardinality. Of course, there are the industrial standard tools, but they cost a fortune.

What are you using?

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  • Honestly, I pretty much use notepad.  Sarcastic to a degree but really it is true.  I used to use ERWin but don't have it at my current job (don't do enough ERD design to justify).  An ERD tool would be close to tops on my wish list to come with SSMS, but I understand why it's missing.  I'm wondering if Visual Studio Database Edition has something?

  • Yeah, I've heard that before. In fact, most DBAs I talk to are using pencil and paper! I think the key is that the ERD is losing its punch, and I've met a lot of DBAs who don't do them at all. That's a shame, I think, because they communicate so much information to the business, the DBA and the developer staff. Since most troubled projects I run into are that way because of design issues, I wonder if this isn't part of the issue....

  • The one I like most is Sybase PowerDesigner. I used it when I took university classes back in 2002, but it's not free.

    Recently, I tried the new 12.5 version, it's much better now than then. It can also do UML, XML, business and other diagrams, very easy but powerful.

    I also use pen and paper for my occasional design work. If I'm not mistaken, the architects here in my company use Rational, from IBM.

  • I've used ERwin and Visio.

    I'd really like a Microsoft ERD tool that's integrated with DataDude (allow changes made either in the diagram, or the scripts, and synchronize).  I guess ERwin has this, and it's embarrassing that MS doesn't have anything similar.  It's a big hole in the Microsoft DB toolset.

  • From a teaching perspective, it's actully, I think, a much better learning exercise to draw it out on paper.  Tools make it too easy.  

    I use Erwin when my Oracle colleagues are torturing me, otherwise Visio.  

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