ER Diagramming Tools

While investigating tools for generating ER Diagrams for the data warehouse I’m working on I came across this good article on which compares three of the top CASE (computer aided software engineering) tools for Oracle.

In the article Steve Callan quickly highlights the differences between Microsoft Visio 2003, Oracle Designer and AllFusion ERwin Data Modeler.

What can we take home from this article? Well, Microsoft Visio is (relatively) cheap at $499 and has good reverse engineering abilities, but won’t write database creation code for you.

Oracle Designer is clumsy, but since it’s bundled with Internet Developer Suite you might already own it; otherwise you’re probably not likely to justify the $5,000 cost of entry.

ERwin really seems like the Cadillac solution for database modeling. The $3,995 price tag will put off most, but like they say in the auto industry, if you’re worried about gas mileage you’re not ready for a Cadillac.

Check out the full article for details. Also check out the Oracle section at for some nice series on Oracle related topics.

oracle, database, rdbms, dbms, oracle database, database management, database design, dba, database administration, er diagramming, case, software engineering

11 thoughts on “ER Diagramming Tools”

  1. Yeah, I’ve used it and also like it. (You actually showed it to me) The problem with it is it does not support Oracle. It says it does, there’s even a popup where you can see an Oracle option, but it doesn’t work.

    With luck, Oracle will rewrite Designer ala SQL Developer and make it better and free.

  2. What about DeZign for Databases (from Datanamic)? I’ve only tried it out using the free trial, but I have a friend who swears by it…

  3. You know, with all the Javascript movable objects and AJAX around at the moment, I’m surprised nobody has made an HTML ERD diagramming tool. Would be great for quick things, rather than what you’re describing, but it’d be a great exercise.

  4. Jon,
    Have you even tried to reverse engineer an Oracle database using Visio 2003? For some reason, I keep getting a fatal error when I try it. The only way I can extract info out of the DB without an error is to use the default ODBC Generic Driver, and with that, I cannot extract more than the tables, primary keys, indexes, and foreign keys.

    Great for if you want to create a nice diagram of your tables and their relationships, but totally useless if you want to create some nice diagrams from your stored procedures/functions and the like.

  5. Ivan,

    I have done a reverse engineer with Oracle and I don’t remember having to go through ODBC to get it. It was limited to tables, primary/foreign keys, indexes and the like.

    I don’t think it would be possible to get an accurate representation of functions and procedures by reverse engineering. You could extract object dependency but it would be difficult to get much more than that.

  6. I have tried the DBDesigner4 from FabForce. I did a reverse engineering from Oracle 9i and it worked fine!!!!

    I really like it

  7. Hi Ceci
    I have a problem using DBDesigner4 to reverse engineere an Oracle Lite 10.1 DB. Could you give me any hint ?

    Thanks a lot

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *