Oracle has made SQL Data Modeler free again with release 3.0. But how good is it? Sometimes free is good but free doesn’t always equate to a bargain. Is it a useful tool or just better than nothing, or maybe even worse than nothing?
It has been several years since I have had one of the big data modeling tools like ERwin or ER/Studio so it hard for me to compare.
One advantage I can see is that it can be widely deployed and avoid the ERwin ghetto where only one person has access to the data models because there is only one ERwin license. And perhaps, it might also encourage some companies to have data models at all since they perceive tools like ERwin as “too expensive”. It is also integrated into SQL Developer which most Oracle users would be using anyway so it is handy.
After a quick look it seems to cover all the basics, forward / reverse engineer, schema compare, etc. The overall feel though is very clunky like typing with gloves on. For a small schema it’s okay but get any significant number of tables in there and navigation is difficult, it is difficult to even get a sense of what the model looks like. To me, it is a tool for a small shop or a small project. For a big enterprise project, you probably still need to spend the big bucks for an enterprise tool. But it’s still nice to have SQL Data Modeler around for small cases. I use SQL Developer all the time so it is right there too.