Its OK to admit it--we are all far too dependent on coffee. Over the years we have slowly but surely become more and more accustomed to relying on that caffeine kick to get our work done. That said, when it comes to diagramming your database, we have other, equally as addictive tools we can rely on. A Entity-Relationship Diagram (ERD) is a useful tool for communicating database characteristics in a visual format. Not only is it an essential component of technical documentation, it’s an effective way to communicate important technical details without drowning the audience with jargon. With a better understanding of the database design, your clients and coworkers will be more engaged in technical decision making.
There are plenty of tools available to help you make an ERD, but my personal favorite is a free tool called Lucidchart. It has a feature that allows you to quickly and automatically generate an ERD by following the steps below:
Sign up for a free account with Lucidchart and open a new Blank UML document.
Click on "More Shapes" in the bottom right corner. Under "Software" in the left navbar, check the box next to "Entity Relationships." Click Save in the bottom right of the Shapes dialogue popup window.
- Find Entity Relationships in the left navbar of the main screen and click "Import."
Choose your DBMS in the popup dialogue box and copy the given query. Run the query on your database and upload its results to Lucidchart as prompted by the dialogue box.
The tables will appear in the left navbar as objects that you can drag into the canvas. You can select an individual table and click the "Manage" button that appears to modify the order of the table's rows or change other table settings.
You’re done! You can continue formatting the diagram or make a simple export to Google Drive once the document is complete.
Lucidchart makes it easy to quickly generate an ERD that can compliment any technical description, whether it’s in a 100-page technical document or attached to an informal email about project requirements. Hopefully this guide will help you utilize this diagram tool going forward.
Interested in more than just diagrams? Check out our previous post about databases in general, or learn more about our entire app building process below.Originally published on September 30, 2015