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Vertabelo Database Designer: The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

Have you already noticed the Vertabelo Database Modeler has a new look now? The entire graphic design changed significantly at the end of January.

Over the past few years, we have been observing how the previous interface worked and paying great attention to the experience of our users. Equipped with the knowledge we have gathered, we developed a completely new graphic design of our ERD tool and implemented several ergonomic improvements to individual functional elements.

From a visual standpoint, the application has changed completely. It now has a modern, clear design, allowing users to work on database modeling comfortably for many hours.

From a functional standpoint, we adopted an evolutionary approach. If something worked well (about 80% of the features), we left it unchanged. Functional changes were introduced only in those areas where we saw the potential for significant improvement in user experience.

The UI and UX changes described in this article affect all account plans (Team, Premium, Basic).

What Has Changed

The first part of the design and user interface changes included the following:

  • The general layout of the application (this includes changes in the top menu)
  • The basic functionality of the edit screens of physical and logical models, specifically the left-hand navigation panel, toolbars, and right-hand panel used for editing properties of the specific elements.
  • Changes in the way keys and indexes are edited.
  • The entire functionality for editing SQL scripts.
  • The basic functionality of the Documents

Make sure to check out the new Vertabelo design!

What Will Change Soon

We are not stopping at the changes described above. In the coming months, we will implement further elements of the new design and changes in the user interface. These changes will cover the following areas:

  • All database modeling functionalities available through the pop-up windows (for both physical and logical models). In particular, we will modify the windows used to generate the SQL code from the model, import and export models, and generate documentation.
  • Moving the Take control mechanism from the diagram area to the top menu.
  • Changing the way to edit reference properties.
  • Further changes in the Documents
  • Complete redesign of the My account
  • Revamped registration and login screens.

Details of the Changes

Below, you can see in detail what has changed recently in the Vertabelo Database Modeler.

Changes in the Top Menu

The top menu has been significantly modified. We identified options that were not used very often and moved them to the drop-down menu on the right.

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

This allowed us to save the extra space needed for the logical and physical model screens. Moreover, we placed the File menu (which was previously in the toolbar) in the top menu (more on that later). In the future, we will also put the Take control mechanism here. Clicking on the logo works the same way as it used to – it will return you to the start screen (the document list).

Below, you can see the top menu in the old version:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

And in the new version:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

Changes in the Physical Model Screen

The design change affected all components of this screen: left-hand navigation tree, problem panel, toolbar, toolbox, and right-hand panel. We simplified it as much as possible to increase the readability of individual elements. This allows the user to focus on the diagram and specific model properties rather than on the details of the user interface.

Below, you can see the old version of the physical model screen:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

And the new one:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

The biggest ergonomic change affects the right-hand panel and the way particular properties are edited – more on this later in this article.

File Menu Moved to the top bar

The File menu was previously on the toolbar. It has now been moved to the main top menu. This applies both to the physical and logical model. The old file menu looks like this:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

And this is the new File menu:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

This change is related to the planned development of the Vertabelo Database Modeler, in which the diagram window will be only one of the possible views of the edited database model. This means the toolbar will play a slightly different role for each of the available views. Also, note the File menu is related to the model as a whole and not just to the diagram, as it contains options such as exporting and importing a model from a file.

At the same time, this change allows for a more readable presentation of the File menu. It also creates more space on the toolbar to be used for new functionalities.

Switching Individual Panels on and off

The visibility controls for the right- and left-hand panels and the top menu have changed. Now, the top menu can be hidden using the third button in the toolbar instead of the dedicated arrow that used to be there. Also, the behavior of the buttons that control the panel visibility has changed. In the new design, the buttons are not binary (pressed/unpressed); instead, they signal the option to perform an opposite action with a blue color . To compare, the old buttons used for switching panels on and off looked like this:

Changes in the Model Property Edit Controls

The right-hand panel has changed – it has been simplified and reorganized. This is how it looked in the old version:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

This is the panel in the new version:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

Also, the appearance of pop-ups from this panel has changed. They have also been visually streamlined. This is the old version:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

And this is the new version:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

Changes in the way Key and Index Columns Are Edited

Not only has the general design changed, but we also modified the way columns are added to keys (primary and alternative) and indexes. The on-the-spot editing in the previous version was confusing for the users; it was not clear whether it was already a column of the index or only a possible candidate.

The new version introduces adding columns to the keys/indexes using an additional layer displayed. This solution gives a clear separation of information; after entering the key/index, the user can see what columns are included in it. Also, when adding a column, there is no doubt we are in the process of adding a new column to the key or index. Similar mechanisms are also used for the analogous elements of the logical model.

Below, you can see the process of adding a column to an index in the old version:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I
The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

And in the new version:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I
The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

Changes in the Logical Model Screen

Like with the physical model screen, the design change covered all elements of this screen: left-hand navigation tree, problem panel, toolbar, toolbox, and right-hand panel. The biggest ergonomic changes concern the details of editing individual properties (right-hand panel). They are analogous to those discussed above in the section related to the physical model screen.

Below, you can see the old logical model screen version:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

And the new one:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

Changes in the SQL Editor Screen

As discussed above in the sections on logical and physical model screens, the File menu from the toolbar has been moved to the top menu. The toolbar, on the other hand, has been enhanced with new Undo/Redo options .

See screenshots below for comparison. This is the old version:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

This is the new version:

The New UI Design and UX Improvement, Part I

New Vertabelo Design

That’s all for now! If you haven’t yet done so, be sure to check out the new Vertabelo design and start your database design! Stay tuned as more design changes are coming soon 😊

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