Best Dev Software? (1 Viewer)


Registered User
Nov 12, 2008
Hi everyone. Improving database designer looking to progress....

I'm looking for some software that will capture my free-thinking database design ideas.

I'm not after anything as structured as hardcore Entity Relationship stuff - just something I can create basic tables in while showing relationships, but also write notes on the screen, do freehand mind-map type drawings and geometric drawings to illustrate ideas, link to webpages for further info to research later etc...

In essence; a tool to get all my thoughts down and structured while I'm in a creative mindset so I can then go back and do the tech. dev after.

If anyone has come across anything that is designed for the likes of us then I'd love to know what you use.

Many thanks,

Mar 4, 2008
I used a free product called "Dia" once. Works pretty good...very Visio like without the high price tag and some of the features.


Registered User
Jan 11, 2008
Maybe Microsoft OneNote (either with Office 2007 or Office 2010 Beta).....


Super Moderator
Staff member
Sep 12, 2006
although you say you dont want to get thinking in terms of entity-relation modelling, I am sure this is the easiest way. And if you are new to databases, I would stick with paper.

Dont get too bound up in the detail - just think in terms of your entities (tables) for a start - dont think in terms of indivdiual fields - you can add all that in later.

just understand what you are trying to model, work out what tables (entities) you need, and how these are related to one another in terms of your input and output.

no systems are so hard you cant do them on paper.

I have some with 50 tables, but many of these are just lookup tables - and the number of true processing tables is very rarely more than 10, often many fewer - just 3 or 4 real data tables

is this for a client, or for yourself?

if its for a client, (and even if its for yourself) make sure you understand all the nuances of the system - to get this analysis correct - because you are trying to avoid special cases. if your client says 99% of stuff does this, but 1% does that - it is important that your system can manage both the this and that. And the biggest problem is when you dont find about the 1% that until you have finished! - and then you do have a bigger problem.

And its hard to get round this - but Access and other dbs are serendipitous. Once you/they start using a well designed database, suddenly users start to appreciate that they can easily obtain data that would have been virtually impossible to get before - and they start to make more and more demands. Often these can be solved simply because the table deisgn was correct, but sometimes you need to revisit the desing.

And you never know about this. Complex sounding requests can often be easy to answer because your design makes it easy to do - and the reverese is true - simple sounding requests can be very hard to accommodate - because the original design brief didnt include the request

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