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What's the Best Database Modeling Tool for Students?

Hey students! Are you searching for a data modeling tool you can use to explore the world of databases? Read on and find out the best data modeler options for you.

Data modeling is analyzing, identifying, and graphically presenting the data involved in a business process. It’s used  to develop a database system. The three phases most models go through are conceptual, logical, and physical data modeling. Although several diagrams can be used to draw a data model, the Entity-Relationship Diagram (ERD) is the most common choice. You can draw an ER diagram with a pencil and paper, but it’s often better to use ERD tools. They let you draw models efficiently in minutes and make it easier to share your work.

What Features Help Students Learn Data Modeling?

Today’s data modeling tools come with many modern features like automation, collaboration, model sharing, etc. However, certain features are more helpful to students as they explore database design. These essential features include:

  • Having all the necessary tools and notations to create a data model from scratch.
  • The option to automatically create the physical model from the logical model.
  • Easy collaboration with teachers and other students.
  • Information sharing.

Other great things to have in a data modeling tool include:

  • Forward engineering, or creating a database schema from a physical data model.
  • Reverse engineering, or creating an ER diagram from an existing database.
  • Automatic SQL script generation, i.e. the tool generates an SQL script that will create the database as described in the data model.
  • SQL validation, which alerts you to possible problems with your data model.

Let's explore a few data modeling tools with features to support students:

Our Picks for Student-Friendly Data Modeling Tools

1. Vertabelo

Vertabelo is a modern online data modeling tool with fabulous features for students and professionals alike. It supports many Database Management Systems (DBMSs) like SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, etc. This ERD tool comes with a clean, modern, and responsive user interface (UI) and many popular notations like Crow's Foot, IDEF1X, and UML.

Best Database Modeling Tool for Students

With the SQL generation feature, you can automatically generate SQL scripts to create or remove all or selected elements in your database. If you needed to do modifications on an existing database, the reverse engineering feature allows you to import the database to Vertabelo and make changes with modern online data modeling features. Also, Vertabelo can validate your logical and physical data models against the selected database management system.

This database diagram design tool lets you share your models with others, such as lecturers and examiners who do not have Vertabelo accounts. You can explore more on collaboration in Vertabelo here.

Vertabelo provides a Premium-level account for students and teachers as a part of their commitment to supporting the education community. This account allows students and teachers to freely access Vertabelo for relevant courses, tests, and demos. You can learn more about Vertabelo Academic Accounts here.

2. Visual Paradigm

Best Database Modeling Tool for Students

Visual Paradigm is a multi-diagramming tool that can be used as an online data modeler. Its ERD tool provides different notations for data models. Visual Paradigm supports many popular DBMSs, including SQL Server, Oracle,  MySQL, Sybase, etc.

Students can use this database diagram design tool to design their conceptual to physical data models. It has a user-friendly interface and a unique feature called 'Table Record Editor' that allows you to enter sample records for the entities in the ERD. With this feature, users can see the data formats that will be inserted into the database before its created. There’s another fabulous feature called 'Model Transitor' to help you derive your logical and physical models from their prior levels instead of creating them from scratch.

You can generate DDL files (a subtype of SQL) from selected entities or the entire ERD to create your physical database with this tool. You can also patch a revision made in the data model into the physical database. Also, it supports reverse engineering, so you can import an existing database and edit it using the visual editor.

3. SqlDBM

SqlDBM is another online ERD tool that’s suitable for students. It supports collaborative work on any platform and many DBMSs (SQL Server, MySQL, Amazon Redshift, etc.).

Best Database Modeling Tool for Students

This database diagram design tool lets you draw your conceptual to physical ER diagrams with many tools and notations, including Crow's Foot and IDEF1X. You can create DDL scripts from your physical model for any database supported by SqlDBM. Also, you can copy and paste a DDL script or upload a DDL file from an existing database and create the respective data model to edit visually in this ERD tool.

The collaboration enabled by this tool is vital for students when they work on group projects  or when they need help from teachers or other students.

4. Navicat

Navicat is a desktop-based data modeler. It comes in Mac OS, Windows, and Linux versions. This ERD tool supports many DBMSs, such as MySQL, Oracle, MariaDB, SQL Server, etc.

Best Database Modeling Tool for Students

This database diagram design tool uses Crow's Foot, UML, or IDEF1X notations to draw your database diagrams. It provides several automated features to create conceptual, logical, and physical data models. Navicat also offers reverse engineering, and its ‘Export SQL’ feature supports the generation of SQL scripts for each component of the physical model.

5. Astah Professional

Best Database Modeling Tool for Students

Astah Professional is an offline multi-diagramming tool that can help students in their data modeling projects. You can install this tool on Mac OS, Windows, Ubuntu, or CentOS environments. In addition to ER diagrams, this tool supports drawing UML diagrams, DFDs, and others.

Astah Professional offers notations like Crow's Foot and IDEF1X to draw your diagrams.  Its 'Export Excel' feature lets you export your data model components to SQL (SQL-92), and there is a reverse engineering feature to import an existing database.

However, this database diagramming tool helps students in their individual work; it’s an offline tool that’s not designed for collaborative online work.

6. Lucidchart

Lucidchart is an online data modeler that facilitates drawing various diagrams, including ER diagrams. It supports many databases (MySQL, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and Oracle) and Salesforce.

Best Database Modeling Tool for Students

This tool supports drawing your ER diagram manually or generating it automatically by importing data. There are templates and a shape library for manually creating your ERD.

With Lucidchart, you can export your ER diagram to any supported database by generating an SQL script. You can work collaboratively with Lucidchart, thanks to its sharing options.

7. ERDPlus

Best Database Modeling Tool for Students

ERDPlus is another online ERD tool for both students and database experts. This data modeler provides all the required features and notations to draw your conceptual to physical ER diagrams. It supports Oracle, MySQL, IBM DB2, SQL Server, Postgres, and other popular databases.

In ERDPlus, you can automatically create your physical model from the logical ER diagram. You can also automatically generate SQL scripts to build a database from a physical model. Finally, you can export your diagrams into many different formats (like PNG). However, it does not support reverse engineering, so this tool is best for drawing data models from scratch.

So, What's the Best Database Modeling Tool for Students?

Many online and offline database modeling tools are available. However, when choosing a data modeler for students, you must consider many factors. An easy-to-use interface, collaborative work features with different model sharing options, model validation, and various DBMS support are essential features for student database projects. Also, having great features like SQL script generation and reverse engineering will give students an advantage.

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