Depending on their end use, databases can be simple or complex in their design. An excel sheet which helps you query your data based on rows and columns can be understood as a simple example of SQL, a relationship-based database management system (RDBMS). The earliest Web was designed mostly on SQL databases, such as Oracle and MySQL.
Currently, there are many other database systems, such as cloud databases (e.g. Amazon Web Services, SAP, Microsoft Azure), probabilistic databases, and federated databases. Without going into detail, it follows that designing a database requires a bit of abstract thinking and logic flow.
This is where data-modeling tools play an important role. They can help in defining the relationships, schemas, constraints, and values of different datasets, giving a planned perspective. Here we will discuss the best data-modeling tools that are popular for designing databases.
1. erwin Data Modeler (DM)
Currently, a top-ranked data-modeling tool, erwin Data Modeler (DM), offers a multi-pronged strategy to manage a wide range of complex data structures. You can create and view conceptual, logical, or physical data models on a polished graphical interface. It’s a versatile tool with features such as user collaboration and permission levels, tracking changes, and visualization of a wide range of roles and data dependencies. Every change you make can be immediately viewed for impact analysis.
erwin supports migration of all your data from traditional databases to NoSQL and offers native support for Couchbase and MongoDB. Its technology footprint covers the entire range of database solution providers including AWS, Azure, Hadoop, Oracle, Teradata, ValidDB, and many others.
erwin’s package is expensive at $299/month and geared more towards enterprise users. However, its users also include software developers who need an advanced tool to maintain version control and changes in databases.
MagicDraw by NoMagic Inc. is a modeling tool that has been designed for a wide variety of modeling languages (UML, SysML, AADL), programming languages (Java, C#, C++), and standards bodies (e.g. ISO). It supports multiple platforms, operating systems and environments, as it has been designed as a pure Java application.
MagicDraw offers team collaboration on a common server, free support and a highly responsive design. The company claims that 75 percent of features it added were based on direct user feedback. Its standard, professional, architect, and enterprise editions are available with a subscription inquiry. A reader to view UML files is available for free.
If you’re looking for a completely free and open-source data-modeling tool, ArgoUML offers a standardized interface for viewing all UML files. Like MagicDraw, the platform is 100% built on Java, making it compatible with all platforms. One of its salient design features is a cognitive psychology that uses opportunistic design and problem-solving to design any database sketch. At 15MB of free disk storage, it is the lightest database design tool.
You can directly view all the information relating to the product’s suitability for database design projects. There is a wiki, online forum, and an in-depth user manual that represent comprehensive views of the user’s database requirements. The range of capabilities extend to NoSQL, and ArgoUML can serve as a replacement of many proprietary database designing tools.
Bonus Free Tools
DBDesigner 4 is a free and open-source database-design tool which is helpful in supporting multiple MySQL database files. Oracle SQL Developer is another data-modeling tool that works with easy access on Java.
PowerDesigner 16.6 by SAP is a leading modeling tool used in database design in Windows and Eclipse environments. It can use conceptual, logical and physical models, UML diagrams, Java J2EE, Microsoft .NET, Visual Studio, and more. Some of the major features it supports include data visualization, impact analysis, search and reuse, and other features mentioned in the above software.
The model-driven approach of PowerDesigner offers support for more than 60 different kinds of RDBMS and fetches information from multiple scenarios. The tool requires a pricing request at the SAP website.
Whether you want to design a website with multiple users and content streams or manage and maintain version changes for mobile applications, you will have to design a database at some point. Using one of these data-modeling tools, you will get a better overview of what you plan to do in your project.
Which data-modeling tools do you recommend? Please let us know in the comments.