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Top 7 Database Schema Design Tools

Database schema design tools are essential in your toolkit if you are a database professional. Your database development journey begins with these tools. Let's read on to find out the top database schema design tools.

This article lists my top database schema design tools with their key features. These tools are important since we start our database development journey with data modeling using a database design tool.

Data modeling is a step-by-step process of arranging data entities in an information system, starting from concepts up to building your physical database. It goes through three phases: conceptual, logical, and physical.

At the conceptual level, you show a very high-level summary of your entire data model. In logical data modeling, you go into more detail by expanding the entities and displaying their attributes, data types, etc. Finally, in physical data modeling, you create a model ready to be converted into a physical database. Learn more about conceptual, logical, and physical data models.

The ER diagram or entity-relationship diagram (ERD) is most commonly used for representing the outcome of the data modeling stages. An ER diagram shows the entities and their relationships with other related information, such as attributes, primary keys that identify each entity uniquely, and foreign keys that create relationships between entities, among others. There are many notations available for drawing ER diagrams, such as crow's foot notation, Baker's notations, and IDEF1X notation.

Let's see the top database design tools for designing our database schema.

1. Vertabelo

Vertabelo is an online database schema design tool. It offers many fabulous features to software engineers and database designers as one of the best database design tools.

Vertabelo supports many popular database management systems (DBMSs) such as SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle. As an online tool, it lets you design your database schema in any platform from anywhere.

You can design your database schema effortlessly with its many modern automated features. Its stylish, user-friendly, and clean user interface makes your work easier while supporting many ERD notations like crow's foot, IDEF1X, and UML.

Collaboration is an important part of your work when you are on a project. You can collaborate and share your work with your teammates at different access levels with Vertabelo.

With the automated features, you save a substantial amount of time and money. Two examples of these automated features are SQL generation and reverse engineering.

Using SQL Generation, you can create or remove elements in your physical database from a physical data model. If you want to convert your database into a physical model in Vertabelo and make changes in its unique environment, you can take advantage of Vertabelo's reverse engineering feature.

Vertabelo consists of many other key features such as model validation, built-in version control, and version control with Git. It is fast becoming one of the top database schema design tools available in the market.

2. Visual Paradigm

Top 7 Database Schema Design Tools

Visual Paradigm is a multi-diagramming tool with an online version that lets users work collaboratively from anywhere on any platform. It supports many databases including SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, and MariaDB. It helps you draw your ER diagrams from the conceptual to physical level by providing the most popular notations like crow's foot.

This database schema design tool lets you enter sample data and understand the nature of the data in the physical database with its "table record editor" option. Also, its "model transitor" feature automates creating logical and physical data models from their previous levels, thus allowing you to maintain traceability.

Like many top database schema design tools, Visual Paradigm comes with forward engineering. It helps you create SQL DDL files from a physical data model and generate the corresponding physical database.

Visual Paradigm can also compare your physical database with its physical data model to create patches to the database as SQL scripts. Reverse engineering helps you convert your physical database back to its physical model and perform modifications in a user-friendly environment. You can collaborate with your team remotely when you use Visual Paradigm.

3. ER Studio

IDERA, Inc. has developed ER Studio as a data architecture and database design tool. This offline ERD tool is available for Microsoft Windows and is one of the best database design tools.

Top 7 Database Schema Design Tools

It supports many DBMSs like MySQL, SQL Server, Sybase, Oracle, and DB2 DBMSs. ER Studio works with cloud services like Amazon RDS & S3, Azure SQL Database, Blob storage, Google Database Service, and Oracle MySQL Cloud Service, among others.

ER Studio provides a great environment and all required notations for modeling your data at all three levels: conceptual, logical, and physical. It checks for normalization and compliance with the target database. The tool lets you generate a physical data model from a logical model with its automated feature.

ER Studio has features for forward and reverse engineering like other top database design tools. Using the forward engineering feature, you can create a DDL script from your physical data model and generate your physical database. The reverse engineering feature helps you convert your physical database into a physical data model in ER Studio.

This tool's advanced bi-directional comparison feature as well as its capability to merge between the model and the database makes it easy for you to perform revisions.

4. Navicat

Navicat supports major databases such as SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, and MariaDB, among others. It is an offline ERD tool available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. You can model your data from the conceptual to physical levels, with any of the three standard notations.

Top 7 Database Schema Design Tools

Navicat's reverse engineering feature lets you import an existing database and edit it visually. Also, you can create SQL scripts for each component of your physical data model with its Export SQL feature.

5. ERDPlus

Top 7 Database Schema Design Tools

ERDPlus is an online ER diagram tool that lets you model your data from anywhere and on any platform. You have all the necessary notations like crow's foot notation to draw your conceptual, logical, and physical data models with ERDPlus.

It also generates SQL DDL files for creating your physical database from a physical data model. It supports many DBMSs like MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, and IBM DB2, among others.

6. Astah Professional

Top 7 Database Schema Design Tools

Astah Professional is a multi-diagramming tool that supports drawing various diagrams, including ER diagrams with the required notations and features. Astah Professional comes in Windows, macOS, Ubuntu, and CentOS versions as an offline ERD tool. You can download and install the version compatible with your operating system.

Astah Professional provides a great user-friendly UI for drawing your ER diagram with IDEF1X and crow's foot notations. Also, you can create an ER diagram of an existing database with its reverse engineering feature. Its SQL Export feature exports entities of an ER diagram to SQL (SQL-92).

However, as an offline tool, it does not support collaborative work or model sharing.

7. SqlDBM

Top 7 Database Schema Design Tools

SqlDBM supports many databases like MySQL, SQL Server, and Amazon Redshift as an online database design tool. You can use it to create your conceptual to physical data models with popular notations like crow's foot and IDEF1X.

This database design tool also helps you collaborate on different platforms. You just need to provide the email addresses of your team members and check or uncheck the access level options to share your data models with them.

SqlDBM comes with a forward engineering feature for creating DDL scripts from physical models. Like other top database schema design tools, it has a reverse engineering feature for creating a data model from an existing database. Version control and revision comparison are among other great features available in this tool.

Which Is the Best Database Design Tool for You?

Data modeling comes first in your database project. Therefore, as a database professional, you need to have the best database design tools in your toolkit. Your database design tool helps you draw ER diagrams and model your data in the data modeling process. You can graphically show the entities and their relationships using ER diagrams.

There are hundreds of data modeling tools available in the market. You need to have a list of the best tools so that you choose the perfect one for your database project. However, the same modeling tool does not suit everyone.

Compare your requirements with the tool's capabilities when choosing a data modeling tool for your project. Learn more about selecting the best database design tool for creating your data model.

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