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6 Best MySQL Database Design Tools

Are you trying to choose the best database design tool for your next MySQL project? It’s challenging to pick the right tool for your requirements. This article will guide you in choosing the best MySQL database design tool among the many options on the market.

The designing phase is the most critical part of any software project – including database projects. A good database design is like a good building foundation; most project failures are due to the absence of a proper database design. That’s why choosing the right database tool is critical to your database project startup.

MySQL is among today's most popular and widely used open-source relational database management systems (RDBMS). MySQL databases are especially widely used in web application development. That’s one reason why we’re discussing the best MySQL database modeling tools.

Essential Features for a MySQL Database Design Tool

When you pick a database design tool (aka entity-relationship diagram (ERD) tool) for your next project, you should know the features your tool must have to complete your project successfully. These features include:

  • Collaboration: Collaboration is one of the most important facets of modern database projects. Many people contribute to successfully completing a project with their different specialties. So, it is vital that your database modeling tool supports collaboration.
  • Model versioning: Another important feature of data modeling software is model versioning. This feature keeps track of all the changes and allows you to compare versions, restore a previous version, etc.
  • Model validation: A good database modeling tool must validate your data model against the supported database management system (DBMS) constraints. For instance, if you build a database design for MySQL, your MySQL database design tool should highlight any incompatibilities between your model and the MYSQL DBMS.
  • Logical and physical models: Your ERD software should come with all the features and notations to draw conceptual, logical, and physical models of your database. Also, some good designing tools allow you to automatically generate a physical model from a logical model.
  • SQL DDL generation: The tool will automatically create the DDL (Data Definition Language) script for your model. This is a specialized SQL script that creates physical database components automatically. This feature saves time and money.
  • Reverse engineering: This feature automatically creates a data model from an existing physical database. This allows database designers to make changes visually to the existing databases in a user-friendly environment.

Additionally, some modern database modeling tools provide student or academic accounts that are free for educational purposes.

The Best MySQL Database Design Tools

This section will discuss the features of the best data modeling software, helping you to pick the best tool for your next MySQL project.

Let’s categorize our list into 4 groups.

  1. Online tools that support many databases, including MySQL – i.e. online multi-database tools.
  2. Online MySQL-only tools.
  3. Offline multi-database design tools.
  4. Offline MySQL-only tools.

Online Multi-Database Tools


6 Best MySQL Database Design Tools

Vertabelo is an online MySQL database design tool that supports many other databases, such as SQL Server, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and Amazon Redshift. This visual database design tool comes with a user friendly, clean, and responsive interface to design your data model. Also, it provides several notations (like Crow’s foot, UML, Barker’s, and IDEF1X) to draw your ERD diagrams. And the tool automates generating a physical model from your logical model.

Vertabelo provides you with reverse engineering on existing databases. It also offers DDL generation so you can easily create or remove all or some components of a physical database.

It also offers model sharing to support remote and multi-team collaboration features. This data modeling software smooths your workflow with instant save, live validation, and SQL preview features. It validates your model in real-time, provides hints to help fix problems, and supports model versioning.

Vertabelo also offers different pricing plans to suit your budget and requirements, including a free academic plan for educational purposes.

Visual Paradigm

6 Best MySQL Database Design Tools

Visual Paradigm comes with many powerful visual modeling tools that enable you to draw many diagrams (such as ERD, UML, DFD, etc.).  It provides an easy drag-and-drop diagram editor with effective modeling tools, like element reusability and diagram and element transformation. You can use Visual Paradigm online or install it on MacOS, Windows, or Linux and use it offline. And it supports a wide range of DBMSs, including MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, SYBASE, and others.

Its ERD editor offers many features to help you draw your diagram, generate a database from an ER diagram, automatically create database patch scripts, and reverse engineer a physical database. It also provides real-time collaboration, document history, and model validation. There are several plans for different budgets, including a free plan with basic features.

Online MySQL-Only Database Design Tools


6 Best MySQL Database Design Tools

phpMyAdmin is a free tool that’s mainly designed to handle the administration of MySQL databases over the web. It also provides an ERD tool to create MySQL database diagrams.

Although this database tool is mainly used for managing MySQL databases, it has some basic features for designing databases. For example, you can drag and drop tables to create your ER diagram and then download the models to PDF files.

However, as an ER diagram editor, phpMyAdmin does not support large, highly customized collaborative projects. For such projects, you will have to use one of the other tools we listed here.

Offline Multi-Database Design Tools

ER Studio

6 Best MySQL Database Design Tools

ER Studio tool is a data modeling and architecture tool that you can install on a Windows PC. Aside from MySQL, it supports SQL Server, Oracle, DB 2, and other DBMSs. It also supports Cloud services like Amazon RDS, S3, and Oracle.

This tool provides a great environment, with popular notations to build your logical and physical models; it also automates physical model creation from the logical model and validates your model by checking normalization and compliance with the target database. Furthermore, it creates DDL files from your physical model and enables the reverse engineering of existing databases.

ER Studio’s bi-directional advanced compare and merge feature enables straightforward updates of the data model and the database structure.

Navicat Data Modeler

6 Best MySQL Database Design Tools

Navicat data modeler is a powerful, cost-effective database modeling tool that supports MySQL, MariaDB, Oracle, SQL Server, and many other popular databases. This MySQL database design tool enables you to design conceptual, logical, and physical data models in an intuitive environment. You can install it on Windows, MacOS, or Linux.

Like most of the other data modeling tools listed here, Navicat creates DDL files and allows the reverse engineering of physical databases.

Navicat’s comparison and synchronization option enables you to compare the physical database with the data model. It also generates a synchronization script to make the destination database identical to your data model.

Navicat data modeler is fully integrated with their Cloud solution and facilitates collaborative work.

Offline MySQL-Only Database Modeling Tools

MySQL Workbench

6 Best MySQL Database Design Tools

MySQL Workbench is a visual tool that supports data modeling, SQL development, and MySQL database administration and management. Database architects, developers, and DBAs use this tool; it’s available on Windows, Linux, and MacOS X.

You can visually design, generate, and manage MySQL databases with MySQL Workbench. It comes with all the features needed to create your ER diagram, such as required notations and forward/reverse engineering.

Also, this tool simplifies change management and documentation, making it less complex and time consuming.

Feature Comparison

FeaturesVertabeloVisual ParadigmphpMyAdminER StudioNavicatMySQL Workbench
Model versioning
Model validation
Supports logical and physical models
Generates SQL DDL
Reverse engineering
Free Plan/Student Plan

Which Is the Best MySQL Database Design Tool for You?

Database design is the most important factor for the successful completion of a database project. Choosing the right tool for your needs can be a challenging task, but it’s an essential part of the process.

In this article, we listed a few top MySQL database design tools and compared the most critical features. However, the best tool for your project depends on your requirements and budget.

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