Data Models for Your Agile Team

Published by Cristian Scutaru on

Instant flexible data models for most relational database management systems. Choose what tables and views to add in each diagram. Expanded, collapsed or minimized shapes. Expandable relationships as surrogate shape items. Chain relationships and custom joins. Table, view and column aliases… And did I mention Model Xtractor is all FREE? More to come: web publishing in self-hosted environment (with team collaboration); versioning; periodic sync…

Table of Contents

Generic Look & Feel

…Martha is a technical team lead and architect in an Agile team. Her project – like many projects today – uses a huge range of languages, technologies and database types: Oracle, SQL Server, a remote Amazon Redshift cluster for big data analytics, two MySQL databases for some utility tools, SQLite/Firebird support for a distributed mobile application etc. For most databases there are some free data design tools, but diagrams created with these tools look different and many tools have various limitations.

Martha needs a generic data modeling tool to simply reverse engineer and expose ER representations to the team and to the upper management.

And here comes Model Xtractor

We simplified the way you connect to most popular relational databases. Martha may easily and quickly create a connection to each of her databases. A productivity tool saves you time, and with Model Xtractor you do not have to switch between different application for different platforms. Also, you get one uniform generic GUI for all databases.

Each import automatically generates several model diagrams for each import. Martha found great to just customize some of them (another time saver!) and deleted the rest.

Comprehensible Smaller Diagrams

As long as I remember, I’ve rarely seen a data design tool to efficiently use the diagram surface. Most other tools bring all large and bold tables together in one diagram, fully expanded. And you end up with a huge drap to pin on the wall, hard to send to a printer.

Martha enjoyed splitting her huge Oracle database into modular and specialized diagrams. She also enjoyed the fact she could collapse or even minify any shape.

Generated chains for many-to-many relationships were particular useful. The database had over 400 tables, of which 100 were intersection tables, most of them very uninteresting, holding just the propagated keys. By showing directly many-to-many chain connectors and bypassing completely the intersection tables, Martha was able to come up with a truly conceptual model and focus on business issues, not implementation.

Local Model Transformations

Her DBA forgot to enforce referential integrity and many relationships were not actually represented, by built-in primary-foreign keys. But this is when Martha realized she can actually enhance the design on her side, without changing the actual database and upsetting the DBA, with custom joins and relationships.

Duh, those technical guys… Many tables and columns had cryptic names, and Martha wanted something more comprehensible, to present to the CEO and pass to the business analysts. And wow again, Model Xtractor allows you to change completely, just on your side again (not propagated to the database) all table, view, column and relationship items, to provide aliases for any of them.

More to come…

We plan other major features for Model Xtractor in this particular area, for project management.

Better collaboration: you will be able to publish your diagrams online and share them with your team. You will be also able to design your diagram online, in the browser.

Databases change frequently, especially in projects under development. The periodic sync will allow you to update your previously imported metadata, fix differences and enjoy a better change management.

Also, you will be able to replace or keep your previous imported or updated metadata. This is called versioning. And each snapshot of metadata that we will historically keep is like a revision.

Categories: Case Study

Cristian Scutaru

I designed and implemented the Data Xtractor suite, with Model Xtractor, Query Xtractor, and Visual Xtractor as separate modules. I am a software architect and developer with over 30 years professional experience. I’ve been working with relational databases for almost three decades and I was constantly unhappy with the relative limitation of those tools used to connect directly to a platform, and instantly extract and display data in flexible ways.