Wednesday, 15 October 2008

SQL Developer Data Modeler: nice but not complete

I have been playing around with the Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeling tool (OSDM). My first impression was that it is a real nice product. It looks good and just like Tobias Arnhold blogged it is really easy to generate a diagram from DDL files. Also, an import from a Designer Repository works like a charm.

However, since I am a big fan of the Designer Entity Relationship Diagrammer (in combination with Headstart Utilities you get the best data models), I am not easily satisfied. In OSDM, building a entity relation model from scratch (painting it on the screen) is not a user friendly task. Creating a new entity is easy, but adding new attributes is a tough job. You need to press the plus button for every attribute and it is not possible to "tab" through the fields. Specifying a datatype for the attribute requires you to go through 2 popup windows. Can you imagine that you record 20 entities with 25 attributes like this?

I also struggled with the "Engineering" part. Although it exactly does what it is supposed to do (make a physical data model which allows you to generate ddl), I was a lit disapointed about the applied naming conventions. I am used to model the entities in singular and get the tables in plural. Furthermore, the entity abbreviation is used in primary keys and foreign keys. I noticed that there are options to supply naming standards in OSDM, but I did not get them to work properly.

Conclusion: if you want to make a nice model of an existing data model, OSDM is perfect. Oracle Designer has very poor functionality to make a nice picture or to export a diagram.
If you need to create a serious new data model, Oracle Designer is still the best choice. If it is not possible to use Designer (license wise) you could make the tables with SQL Developer and reverse engineer it with OSDM.

Let's wait and see how Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler evolves. I must say that I feel very positive about the future of OSDM: the development team is right on top of the supplied feedback (I wish the helpdesks where this fast ;-)

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