While designing a complex project, we need to create different diagrams such as UML diagrams. In this article, we will discuss different data modeling tools you can use to create a data model for storing the data in a database.
What is Data Modeling?
When we create a database, we need to specify the structure of the entire database. For this, we use data modeling. Data modeling is the process of specifying what data we need to collect and how we should store it in the database.
When you define a data model, you can decide on the data structures you need to use in your software. If you don’t define a proper data model, it is possible that you keep modifying the basic structure of your data. This will make things hard for you in the future.
By creating a data model, you can explain the entire structure of the database to even a novice who has just started to learn to code.
You can also create different types of data models such as conceptual models, logical models, and physical models. These data models help understand the database better and improve the understanding between different stakeholders.
Proper data modeling also helps the developers in the development and implementation of the application. They can decide on data structures and algorithms for the efficient implementation of the program.
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Types of Data Modeling
There are three types of data models as discussed below.
Conceptual Data Model
The conceptual data model is used to specify the entities, their attributes, and the relationships between them. Business-oriented teams model the conceptual data model from a business perspective. Using the conceptual data model, they can define what data they need. So, we can say that the conceptual data model is used to identify the business concepts.
Logical Data Model
Once we have the conceptual model, the logical data model is used to define the structure of data elements. Further, we also specify the relationship between the data elements. Generally, the logical data model can be defined by people who have a proper understanding of how databases work. In essence, the logical data model is used to define the structure of the database and how different entities in the database are logically interconnected.
Physical Data Model
The physical data model is used to implement the database in the system. It is used to describe the implementation of the data model. This data model is created and implemented by database developers.
Now that we have discussed the basics of data modeling, let us discuss some of the data modeling tools you can use to create data models for your projects.
Free data modeling tools
Following are some of the free data modeling tools.
Archi is a free data modeling tool. It is a conceptual and physical data modeling tool. It is targeted toward all levels of enterprise architects and modelers. With free usage, Arch provides you with a low-cost solution to start with data modeling. Archi is a cross-platform data modeling tool and you can use it on Windows, Linux, as well as macOS.
To use Archi, you need to learn the ArchiMate data modeling language. ArchiMate is an independent and open source enterprise architecture standard. It supports the description, analysis, and visualization of architecture across business domains.
Archi is used globally by banks, insurance companies, training organizations, universities, and students from most parts of the world. Currently, it is one of the most downloaded free data modeling tools with more than 6000 downloads per month.
ERBuilder is one of the free data modeling tools specifically designed for developers. You can create ER diagrams for physical data models using this tool. ERBuilder isn’t cross-platform and works only on Windows.
In the free edition, ERBuilder supports features like model validation, syntax highlighting, Relational and Crow’s foot notation, and HTML model documentation. You can also export diagrams in various file formats from ERBuilder in its free version.
Apart from its free features, you can also opt for paid features in ERBuilder. In the paid option, ERBuilder supports reverse engineering to create data models from databases, version control with git, and database synchronization among other features.
pgModeler is a free data modeling tool. It supports PostgreSQL databases. It is cross-platform and you can use it on Windows, Linux, as well as macOS.
pgModeler is easy to use and you can create and edit data models very easily. Its intuitive interface helps you create data models that will result in correct SQL codes. pgModeler supports dynamic code generation. You can design a data model and export the code in different PostgreSQL versions. With pgModeler, you can also create data models from existing databases with its reverse engineering tools.
pgModeler also provides support for plugins. You can install various plugins to customize the working of the data modeling tool and modify its working without the need to change the core functionalities.
With pgModeler, you can create most basic objects like a simple column to advance objects like functions and user-defined languages by just using its easy-to-use forms. pgModeler also provides a command line interface to automate processes for which you don’t need the graphical interface. Recently, it has also provided better solutions for the crashing of the application. The application itself recovers and reloads the unsaved work.
With all the above features, pgModeler certainly is a free data modeling tool worth trying.
MySQL Workbench is a free tool available with the MySQL community edition. You might have used MySQL Workbench to perform operations on a MySQL database. However, MySQL workbench isn’t just a visual interface for the MySQL database. You can also perform tasks like database administration, performance monitoring, database migration, etc.
For data modeling, MySQL workbench provides facilities for drawing ER diagrams with a drag and drop modeling interface. You can also create data models from existing databases using reverse engineering in the workbench. After creating data models, you can also export SQL code from MySQL workbench.
MySQL workbench users also enjoy great community support. However, you might find its user interface unintuitive. MySQL workbench has cluttered features and it is difficult to use them efficiently. Overall, you can give MySQL workbench a try if you are looking for free data modeling tools.
HeidiSQL is also a free data modeling tool. It is one of the most popular data modeling tools among users who work on MySQL and MariaDB. Apart from this, HeidiSQL also provides support for PostgreSQL, MS SQL, and SQLite.
HeidiSQL allows you to connect to multiple servers in a single window using a command line interface or GUI. You can also connect via SSH tunnels or pass SSL settings.
HeidiSQL also provides features to export data directly from one server to another. You can also export database tables as CSV, HTML, XML, LaTeX, Wiki Markup, and PHP array.
HeidiSQL provides features to insert ASCII or binary files to database tables in batches. Additionally, you can browse and edit table data using a comfortable grid. You can also bulk edit tables, change database engines, optimize and repair tables in a batch manner and monitor and kill client processes.
Open Source Data Modeling Tools
Following are some of the open-source data modeling tools.
Umbrello is one of the open-source data modeling tools for creating UML diagrams for free. It is a cross-platform tool and is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux systems.
Umbrello is very easy to use. You can create UML diagrams from code or create a data model and export code very easily. It provides you with separate edit and view panes that help you design seamlessly.
Dia is a cross-platform and open-source data modeling tool. It is a GTK+ based tool available for Windows, macOS, and Unix platforms.
Dia is more apt for users with sound technical knowledge and you can easily create various data models and diagrams.
In Dia, you can UML diagrams, flow charts, etc very easily. If you want to create a new shape, you can also do so by using XML files and scalable vector graphics. After creating the diagrams, you can also export them in various file formats and print them easily.
ArgoUML is an open-source data modeling tool that supports all UML 1.4 diagrams. It is available in ten different languages. You can run ArgoUML in your browser and use its web interface to create diagrams. ArgoUML also supports creating data models from databases using reverse engineering and creating SQL scripts from diagrams using forward engineering like other open source data modeling tools. You can also export diagrams in various file formats from ArgoUML.
Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler
Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler is an extension of Oracle SQL Developer. It can be used with any Oracle database. It is one of the most powerful open source data modeling tools. You can use the data modeler by installing it on your PC as well as through a web interface.
Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler can be used to create data models from each other using forward and reverse engineering. You can create Entity relationship diagrams, and perform model formatting and variation along with DDL code generation.
The data modeler also provides collaborative features where multiple users can work on a single project at the same time. You must try Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler if you use Oracle databases and you are looking for open source data modeling tools.
Database Deployment Manager
Database Deployment Manager is one of the open-source data modeling tools used by people you know to code. It is mostly used by programmers to create data models.
Database Deployment Manager also works as a database management system. You can create databases and entity relationship diagrams between tables. It also supports reverse engineering to create data models from existing databases.
Database Deployment Manager also provides features like visual query builder, database design validation, documentation, and version control for the data models. You can also export the designs in various formats like PDF and jpg from Database Deployment Manager.
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Online Data Modeling Tools
Following are some of the online data modeling tools.
Lucidchart is one of my favorite tools for creating diagrams. It is an online data modeling tool that helps you create designs in an easy manner. It supports many database management systems such as Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server.
With Lucidchart’s drag and drop tools, you can quickly create diagrams. Apart from the web-based interface, you can also use Lucidchart’s Android and iOS apps to create and edit designs. It’s a lifesaver when you need to create diagrams in no time.
DBDesigner is one of the online data modeling tools that allow you to design data models without writing any code. DBDesigner provides an intuitive interface that helps you design the models in a simple manner. Its free plan allows you to create two database designs with 10 tables each. After that, you need to pay subscription charges.
DBDesigner facilitates creating data models from databases using reverse engineering. However, it only supports reverse engineering for MySQL, Oracle, and PostgreSQL databases. You can also create SQL scripts from data models to implement databases in MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQLite, and MSSQL using its forward engineering features. You can also export the diagrams in pdf and image formats.
DBDesigner also allows you to collaborate with other users and work on the same design simultaneously. You can also generate publicly shareable links to share the designs with your stakeholders. There are various access levels such as read-only, comment, and edit to save your designs from unwanted changes while sharing the designs.
Quick Database Diagrams (QuickDBD) is also an online data modeling tool that helps you create data models very fast. It focuses on speed and provides you with a no-code as well as a coding facility to create diagrams. QuickDBD isn’t free and you can create only one diagram for free. After that, you need to pay a nominal fee.
ERD Plus is a minimalistic web-based data modeling tool. It is designed for educational purposes and it has been used in its accompanying textbook for illustration purposes.
ERD Plus is completely free and you can create as many designs as you like. With its simple drag and drop tools, you will enjoy creating data models using ERD Plus.
DbDiagram is one of the online data modeling tools popular among database developers and data analysts. You can create 10 diagrams at Dbdiagram.io for free. After that, you need to pay a nominal fee per month.
Dbdiagram.io provides you with a code-based interface that allows you to create ER diagrams easily. In the code editor, you can write SQL queries to create tables. Then, you need to drag and drop the table to the ER diagram in the desired position. You can share the diagram easily online using its one-click sharing options. You can also export the diagram to PDF and Images from Dbdiagram.
To generate ER diagrams, you can also use SQL dump files from PostgreSQL and MySQL. You can also integrate Dbdiagram to frameworks like Django and rails using models.py or schema.rb respectively.
In this article, we have discussed data modeling and its types. We also discussed different data modeling tools. I hope you enjoyed reading this article.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.