Data modeling is the process of applying structures and methodologies to the data in order to convert it in a useful form for analysis and gaining insight. By preparing a model of the data involved in an information system, you optimize the database design and gain understanding of the data flow within the information system.
The data modeling process converts complex software design into a simple, easy-to-understand diagram of the data flow. Data modeling tools then help to create a database structure from these diagrams.
As such, data modeling is an important step before developing a database for an application. It’s rather hard to develop a database if you haven’t worked out its underlying structure first. A good data model is an abstract model of specifics in the database, such as how the data is captured, how the data flows within the system, how is data entered in individual tables, and what checks and constraints apply to the data before storing them in the databases.
Setting up the database can be tedious and a kind of scutwork programmers, database administrators, and data scientists don’t want to bother with. To make this tedious job simpler, or at least tolerable, data modeling tools are available for beginners and experts alike. Below are 10 of the most popular.
How to Select a Data Modeling Tool
- Usage and Needs: This is your first deciding factor. How are you going to use it, how extensively, and for what specific purpose? Not all data modeling tools are created equally and some have different areas of focus. Know your business requirements first to pick the right tool.
- Scaleability: Your project might start small but grow in requirements. At that point you don’t want to be hamstrung by an incapable modeling tool. Give yourself a little room to grow.
- Features: Once you have a grasp of your business requirements, the next step is to determine the right tool. Not all tools are created equal, some are very niche or specific. Shop around.
- Integration: Be advised that some tools create a data model in a proprietary format and some use common or open file format, which is easily read into other tools. Make sure your modeling tool plays nice with your database.
- The User Community: Most every business tool has a user community which you can turn to for help. See what kind of community is around your tools of interest.
10 Data Modeling Tools
This is not a complete list of tools, but we did try to include the most popular and widely used. The list is in no particular order.
This data modeling tool is known for being powerful but less expensive tool for business than others and also complies with the governance database rules. It is considered one of the best data modeling tools, because it includes automated schema generation, cloud-based data solution and power to create hybrid architecture.
If it’s Apache, you know it works well with other Apache products, like Hadoop. Good at handling large databases and parallel tasks.
Ideal for those who have never used any data modeling tool before, because it is easy to use. It can easily be incorporated through any data source types, including Access, Teradata, Excel, Oracle, Microsoft SQL, Ingres, IBM SPSS, IBM DB2, MySQL. It uses visualization of pipelines to create analytics based on the settings of real-life data.
SAP Powerdesigner is capable of capturing, analyzing and presentation of business data. It follows industry best practices to give comprehensive coverage on the metadata storage and get an understanding of the input data. Supports a very wide range of databases.
Edraw Max’s Database Model Diagram is among the best of the free and open source tools to create a database model diagram. It uses a drag-and-drop interface to rapidly build tables and easily redesign them.
Made for the Oracle environment, Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler is a data modeling tool which also supports physical database design. It covers capturing data, exploring data, managing data and getting insights from the data.
Ideal for beginners, this design tool is used to design SQL databases without having to write a single line of code. It allows you to manage large and small databases and data models seamlessly, import existing database schema and creating a physical model or ERD of your database.
Designed specifically for the MySQL database, the MySQL Workbench is a unified data modeling tool for database architects, developers and database admins. It provides tools for configuration, visual database design, administration, backup and deployment.
Enterprise Architect is ideal tool for both entry level modelers and advanced alike. It comes with a lot of functionalities and strategies for analyzing, visualizing, testing and maintaining all the data in any enterprise landscape. It uses diagram-based modeling, can pull in data from various domains and locations throughout the enterprise to create a single, unified version of the model.
Infosphere Data Architect is a data modeling tool from IBM built on the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment. InfoSphere is known for its ability to discover patterns within the data, model the data, find relations and also standardize the interfaces between various applications, servers and existing databases.