One of the more interesting sessions (for me anyway) at OOW 2008 was a session not on database performance, but on data modeling.
The SQL Developer team has been hard at working creating a data modeling plugin for SQL Developer.
This appears to be a very full featured tool, and appears to be the answer to the question "What will replace Oracle Designer?"
While Designer is much more than a data modeling tool, that is one of the core features of the tool, and many folks have used it just for its data modeling capabilities.
The new ERD tool is no lightweight, it is quite full featured from a database modeling and design standpoint.
Some of the features included:
- Domains generated from data
- Real logical and physical modeling, not just one model with 2 different names.
- The ability to reverse engineer several schemas at once and have them appear not only as a master model, but each individually as a sub model.
- Sub model views may be created on sets of objects as well.
- The tool can determine all tables related to a table through FKs and create a sub model based on that set.
- Two forms of notation: Barker and IE
- Many options for displaying sub/super types (D2k fans rejoice!)
- Glossary - a predefined set of names. These can be used to enforce naming conventions for entities, tables and relations.
- Schema comparison with DDL change generation
The repository can be either file based, or database based.
There are two versions of the tool, a plugin to SQL Developer, and a stand alone version. The stand alone version will use only the file based repository.
Now for the bad news.
The release date has not been established. The only release information given was 'sometime in the 2009 calendar year'. As the database repository has not yet been designed, the long time to release is understandable.
And finally, licensing has not been established. It might be free, it might not. If not, at least we can hope for reasonably priced. Personally I thinking having a decent data modeling tool that comes free of charge with SQL Developer would contribute to higher quality databases, as more people would use a real database designer rather than a drawing tool.
There was probably more that didn't make it into my notes.
Suffice it to say this is a great development for data modelers and database designers.
Following a few screen shots taken during the presentation.