Designing and documenting a new database, or reverse engineering one that already exists, is a task that can quickly become very complex. Even small databases with only a few tables are no exception. If you don’t want to lose track, you need either an excellent memory or a dedicated tool for the task. Why leave it to memory? Embarcadero provides just the tool you’ll need: ER/Studio. This entity relationship modeling tool comes in two versions:
- ER/Studio Standard.
- ER/Studio Enterprise.
A fully functional 14-day trial (standard edition) is available to download from the company’s Web site.
The difference between the two versions is mainly the Repository Server that comes with the Enterprise Edition, which can serve as a version control system (VCS) specifically for model management. The focus of this review, however, is ER/Studio itself.
- Pentium III, 700 MHz or higher.
- 512 MB of RAM recommended.
- 100 MB of hard disk space.
- 1024 x 768 display resolution.
- Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows 2003 Server.
When you start ER/Studio for the first time, you’ll see a typical Windows graphical user interface (GUI).
Figure 1: An empty ER/Studio workspace.
For this review, I haven’t created a difficult or complex model. But to give you an idea of what one would look like, here’s a screen shot of one of the sample models that ship with ER/Studio:
Figure 2: The Order Model that ships with ER/Studio.
Don’t let the above screen shot worry you. ER/Studio certainly is a very complex application, but you’ll find it easy to get started with the software. The more advanced and complex features come naturally once you’ve worked with the software for a while. A very helpful feature for navigating such a complex model is a built-in tracker. It doesn’t matter if you select an object in the left-hand tree view or in the diagram itself, ER/Studio automatically highlights the selected object in both panes, so you always know where you are.
ER/Studio supports different notations, including:
- Information Engineering (IE) in these modes:
- IE (Crow’s Feet).
- Filtered IE.
- James Martin.
You can always switch between these different notations while working on a model. ER/Studio also supports Describe, which is a complete UML visual modeling solution. You can integrate your data modeling and object modeling environments using ER/Studios’ Describe integration.