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In software engineering, data modeling is the process of creating a data model for an information system. This is done by applying formal data modeling techniques.
Data is today a very important aspect of business and brands across the world and globe. That is why data modeling is used to define and analyse data requirements that are essential for supporting the business processes which is a part of the information systems of companies.
The process of data modeling therefore requires the close and active collaboration of professional data modellers, stakeholders as well as prospective users of the information system.
From requirements of data to creation of actual database, three different types data models are produced. Initially, the data requirements are recorded as a conceptual data model which is basically a set of technology independent specifications that are used to talk about the initial requirements of data.
Post this, the conceptual model is converted into a logical data model that documents the structure of data, which is then implemented into databases.
Multiple logical data models may be be needed to implement a single conceptual data model. The last step in data modeling involves the transformation of logical data model into a physical data model.
In this model, data is organised into data, and creates accounts for access, performance and storage details.
This means that data modeling defines data elements as well as the structure and relationships between the elements. Used to model data in a systematic and proper manner, data modelling techniques helps companies to manage data as a valuable resource.
It therefore goes without saying that data modeling standards are an essential requirements for companies that conduct projects, where data has to be analysed and defined in a particular manner.
This post highlights some of the important data modeling tools that go a long way in help making data modeling a successful and effective endeavour for various brands and organisations.
Data Modeling Tools;
A free and open source visual modelling and design tool, Archi is used to create models and modelling sketches.
Initially funded by Jisc between 2010-2012, Archi was a part of the national project that helped to support a programme of the Enterprise Architecture in the higher education sector of the United Kingdom.
This data modeling tool, supports the ArchiMate 2.1 modelling language, which is a technical standard, created by the Open Group.
By providing an open source reference implementation of ArchiMate, Archi is presently one of the tools used to implement the Open Group ArchiMate Model Exchange File Format.
The 2.1 version of the tool is a free version and supports sketches, cross-platform and is open source platform as well.
A visual data modeling and design tool, BiZZdesign Architect is used by the Enterprise Architecture to support the application of a number of enterprise architecture frameworks including ArchiMate and TOGAF.
By supporting modelling, visualization, analysis and documentation of enterprise architecture from multiple viewpoints and with multiple views, BiZZdesign Architecture also supports automatic data collection along with data import from office applications.
Released in 2004, BiZZdesign Architect was developed by BiZZdesign and was based on the results of the ArchiMate project.
This data modeling tool intends to offer clients a high value enterprise architecture data modeling tool that can be controlled by the business management.
In addition, it was recognised as a notable enterprise architecture tool by Garter and Forrester in 2012.
Some of the enterprise architecture framework that BiZZdesign supports includes ArchiMate, DYA framework, Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture framework, Tapscott among others.
CA ERwin Data Modeler:
Another software tool for data modeling, CA ERwin Data modeling is used for developing custom made information system including data charts and databases for transactional systems, besides data requirement analysis and database design.
Based upon the IDEF1X method, this tool also supports diagrams displayed with information engineering notation.
Created by Logic Works, this tool was acquired by Platinum Technology in 1998 and was later obtained in 1999 by Computer Associates.
This tool was then added by Computer Associates to their AllFusion suite under the name of AllFusion ERwin Data Modeler, later named as CA ERwin Data Modeler.
Some other features of the tool include the following:
- This tool allows for creation of purely logical models, from which physical models may also be created. This tool also supports the combination of physical and logical models , other than entity type and attract logical names and descriptions, logical domain and data types among others.
- This tool also supports the naming of tables and columns, user defined data types, primary keys, foreign keys, alternative keys and the naming as well as definition of constraints.
- The tool also compares automates bidirectional synchronisation of models, scripts and databases. If model changes are targeted, the tool has the capacity to generate a script to make these changes.
- This tool includes an abbreviation/naming directory called Naming Standards Editor and a logical to RDBMS data type mapping facility called Datatype Standards editor. Both of these editors can create customizable entries and ensure basic rule enforcement for data management.
- After the database engineer has created an effective physical model, the tool can be used to generate a SQL Data Definition language script, which can be directly executed on the RDBMS environment or saved to a file.
- The version 7 of this tool also has an undo feature available.
- A unique Bulk editor is also a part of the CA ERwin data modeler. This editor enables users to edit a collection of objects in a single editing session.
Database Deployment Manager:
An open source desktop oriented multi platform database design tool, Database deployment manager is used by database administrators to create database structures, which are then deployed into an existing database.
By allowing the creation of diagrams, this tools allows the identification of basic relations between the defined structures. Some features of the tool are:
1. This tool can be used to create data types, which can be used to create tables.
2. Allows management of database views and tables.
3. Allows users to load/save startup for tables from CSV files
4. It allows validation of database design
5. Database deployment manager has a sql script generation for a target database engine and parallel deployment into chosen databases
6. Has a unique visual query builder
7. The tool allows database mangers to browse an existing database and import tables into the solution
8. Object Oriented Modeling: Another feature of this tool is that it allows for the creation of database tables by following the paradigms of object oriented programming. Database managers can have a base table called table template and then they can derive tables from it.
As stated in Wikipedia, this is a software application for development and administration of multiple relational databases that uses SQL, with interoperationality between different database system, Database workbench was developed by Upscale production.
As this tool supports multiple database systems, it provides software developers with a similar interface and development environment that would otherwise be using different database systems.
Initially created as a developer tool, specifically for Interbase, The Database workbench was modelled after the SQL navigator tool for Oracle Database by Quest Software. In the early years, this tool was an open source.
Some of the relational databases that database workbench supports includes Oracle Datbase, Microsoft SQL server, Firebird, Nexus DB, MySQL, MariaDB among others.
The fifth version of this tool, runs on both versions (64 bit and 32 bit) of Windows and under Linux the tool can be operated by using Wine. Database workbench can be used to view, create and edit indexes, tables, stored procedures and other database meta data objects. This tool supports the following as well:
1. Visual database design/diagramming, both physical and conceptual
2. testing SQL queries and viewing query plans
3. Generates test data
4. Import and export of data
5. visual privilege management
6. open ODBC or ADO data sources and MS Access databases. In addition, this tool also has several productivity features like code templates, name templates, parameter insights, SQL insight including join completion among others.
Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect:
Another visual modeling and design tool, Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect is based on the OMG UML. The platform supports design and construction of software systems, modeling business processes and data modeling industry based domains.
In use by business and companies, this tool is used to model the architecture of their systems on one hand and process the implantation of these models across full application development life cycle on the other hand.
Besides system data modeling, this tool covers the core aspects of application development life cycle from requirements management right up to design, construction, testing and maintenance phases.
It also provides support for traceability, project management and change control as well as facilities for model driven development of application code.
Used by both programmers and business analysts in both small developer companies to multi-national corporations, this tool can perform a lot of functions that vast and comprehensive.
Initially released by Enterprise Architect, Sparx Systems was released in the year 2000. Originally designed as a UML modeling tool, this tool has evolved to include a number of other specifications as well.
A data architecture and database design software, ER?Studio was developed by Embarcadero Technologies. This tool works across multiple database platforms and is used effectively by data architects, data modellers, database architects and business analysts.
Used to create and manage database designs,, document and refuse data assets, ER/Studio is one of the comprehensive data modelling tool that combines data business and application modeling into a multi-level design environment.
In addition to ER/Studio, the ER/Studio XE3 includes ER/Studio business architect (It is a process modeling tool that document business processes, enabling companies to understand and enhance the relationship between business process and data.), ER/Studio repository (A server side model management system that helps companies to save daily challenges of data modeling in a team environment.
This tool allows multiple users to not just work in a productive manner by also collaborate on data and business process modeling projects, thereby ensuring proper use of assets and resources), ER/Studio portal (a web based search and reporting tool used to access and query for improved understanding for data), MetaWizard (integrates metadata across modelling tools), Universal data models (helps to reduce the development time of database related projects by close to 60 percent) and ER/Studio Software Architect (it is an object oriented data modeling tool to visually analyse and design complex software applications, used by application architects).
Future Selection Toolbox:
A software focusing mainly on feature selection in machine learning domain, Future Selection Toolbox was written C++ and developed at the Czech Academy of Sciences.
The third generation of this tool is much more versatile, advanced and efficient than the first version. With an emphasis on data pre-processing and classification, specifically feature collection, this tool has specific functions making it a more specialized choice over other tools like RapidMiner, PRTools and WEKA.
IBM System Architect:
An enterprise architecture tool, IBM System Architect is used by numerous corporations and government agencies to create and manage systems, applications and databases, that in turn help to keep their organisations going ahead.
This tool works with a number of framework like DoDAF, MODAF and NAF. Widely used in developing defines architectures, System Architecture has been referenced in textbooks that talk about enterprise architecture, UML and data modeling.
All in all, data modeling tools are an integral part of any brands and organisations. This is because data is essential for the success and growth of any enterprise.
Whether it is understanding the behaviour of the customers or making smart marketing choices, data management is today an integral part of the growth story of any brand.
That is why investing in and understanding data modeling tools will go a long way in helping a brand to sustain its growth story, not just in the present times but in the future as well.