Best Database Design Software

If you want a high-performance database with searches that run fast then database design is essential. Putting time into designing your database will help you to avoid problems like inefficiency and high redundancy.

Using database design software makes your data accessible to your users by making it easier to build and optimize database designs.

Here is our list of the best database design software:

  1. Lucidchart EDITOR’S CHOICE Our top pick for database design software. Database design tool with over 500 image templates, database importing, exporting, integrations, sharing, and more.
  2. DeZign for Databases Database Modeling tool with a drag-and-drop editor, forward engineering, reverse engineering, synchronization, custom reports, and more.
  3. SqlDBM Free database design tool with forward engineering, reverse engineering, team management, documentation exports, and more.
  4. dbForge Studio for SQL Server Integrated development environment for database design with a visual query builder, schema comparison, synchronization, and more.
  5. DbDesigner Free web-based database modeling tool with support for MySQL, MS SQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQLite, with forward and reverse engineering.
  6. DbSchema Database diagram design tool with reverse engineering, schema synchronization, an SQL editor, design experts, a database forms/report builder, and more.
  7. Navicat Data Modeler Database design software with forward engineering, reverse engineering, model conversion, database compare and synchronization, and more.
  8. SmartDraw Web-based database diagram tool with automated entity-relationship diagrams, over 34,000 symbols, sharing, and more.
  9. Vertabelo Browser-based database modeling tool with reverse engineering, sharing, ASQL script generation, live validation, and more.

The Best Database Design Software

The list includes a range of database design tools for Windows, macOS, and Linux that you can use to create, import, and optimize databases. We’ve included a mix of tools with forward and reverse engineering, with features including drag-and-drop editors, schema comparison and synchronization, and more.

Our methodology for selecting a database design solution for your company

We reviewed the market for database design software and analyzed tools based on the following criteria:

  • An editor mode that is specific for database design
  • Formatting for relationship mapping
  • Identifiers for candidate keys and primary keys
  • Attribute descriptor fields
  • An object generator
  • A free trial or a demo system that lets you examine the tool before buying
  • Value for money from a solid tool that includes validation and automation, sold at a fair price

With these selection criteria in mind, we looked for database design systems that have high user approval ratings and have a solid and stable history.

1. Lucidchart

Lucidchart Data Flow Diagram

Lucidchart is a visual design tool that you can use to create database designs. The tool comes with over 500 templates that you can drag and drop from a library to build custom diagrams. You can also import database structures from MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server.

Key features:

  • Over 500 templates
  • Import database structure
  • Export database designs
  • Share designs with Confluence, Jira, G Suite, and Microsoft Office
  • Single sign-on
  • Automatic license provisioning

Why do we recommend it?

Lucidchart allows you to build a database design from scratch or import a structure from an existing instance and get it rendered. The tool s able to connect to standard project management tools and collaboration systems to communicate designs or store them as part of a project library.

Database sharing enables you to share your designs with others and gather feedback. You can share live versions of designs through mediums including Confluence, Jira, G Suite, and Microsoft Office. Lucidchart can also integrate with a range of platforms including G Suite, Atlassian, Slack, Salesforce, and Microsoft Office.

To ensure that your designs are secured, Lucidchart does single sign-on with SAML 2.0 where charts are stored on your account. You also have the option to automatically grant members of a team approval for license requests.

Who is it recommended for?

This is a cloud-based package and it isn’t just useful for creating database design documents. It can also be used to create business process diagrams, such as flow charts, or system plans, such as network topology maps. This is a flexible tool with scaleable pricing, which makes it suitable for businesses of all sizes.

Pros:

  • Supports a wide variety of database types
  • Is highly visual and scales well even in enterprise environments
  • Makes collaboration easy by integrating with tools such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Jira
  • Offers four plans, making Lucidchart accessible to any size team

Cons:

  • Has many different options that can take time to fully explore

Lucidchart is ideal for enterprises looking for a simple and low-cost database design tool. There is a free plan that allows you to edit three documents and choose from 100 templates. Paid versions start at $7.95 (£8.00) for the Individual plan. Lucidchart is a cloud-based system. You can sign up for free.

EDITOR'S CHOICE

Lucidchart is a top choice because it is a versatile visual design tool. The intelligent diagramming tool has an intuitive interface and library of 500+ templates. These template designs make it easier for team members to build and create their own custom flowcharts and network topology maps. Additionally using this tool, organizational team members can easily discover the missing sections from the designs. Another factor that makes it the premium choice is users can import and export database structures and designs from SQL Server, Oracle, and MySQL without any hassle. Further, team members can share and work on the same designs simultaneously using Microsoft Office, Jira, and other applications. Lucidchart supports integration with some of the popular tools and platforms. Lastly, you can choose from the different packages available based on your business size.

Official Site: https://www.lucidchart.com

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux, and Chrome OS

2. DeZign for Databases

DeZign for Databases Teamwork Edition

DeZign for Databases is a database modeling tool that you can use to create and databases. DeZign for Databases provides entity-relationship diagrams that you can use to design databases. You can drag-and-drop entities into the canvas to build custom designs.

Key features:

  • Drag-and-drop editor
  • Forward engineering
  • Reverse engineering
  • Automatically generate Oracle, MySQL, MS SQL, and PostgreSQL database designs
  • Database and model synchronization
  • Reports

Why do we recommend it?

DeZign for Databases is a specific database design tool, so if you aren’t interested in a general purpose chart drawing system like Lucidchart, you should consider this option. You create an ERD in the editor and then it will generate out create scripts for SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, or Postgres.

The platform provides users a mix of both forward engineering and reverse engineering. Meaning that it can generate databases from data models provided by you, or develop a graphical data model from an existing database. There is support for over 15 databases including Oracle, MySQL, MS SQL, and PostgreSQL.

Database and model synchronization allows you to compete and synchronize changes made to the model or database, enabling you to update changes more efficiently. Customizable HTML, Word, and PDF reports allow you to generate documentation of all your databases. You also have the option to export database diagrams as an image via png, jpeg, gif, bitmap, or Windows metafile.

Who is it recommended for?

This system is useful for database designers and project managers. The tool is also able to import a design from an existing instance, so it can be used by a DBA starting at a company with undocumented databases. Another use case is to extract a design, modify it, and then generate altered creation scripts.

Pros:

  • Automatically generates diagrams based on the database its pointed to
  • Supports relationship modeling
  • Makes customization simple with simple drag and drop features

Cons:

  • Visualizations are better suited for smaller environments
  • Would like to see a longer trial period

DeZign for Databases is a reliable choice for enterprises looking for a cost-effective database creation tool. Prices start at $19 (£14.21) per month for DeZign for Databases Standard. It is available for Windows. You can start the 14-day free trial.

3. SqlDBM

SqlDBM AdventureWorks v25 - Diagram Explorer

SqlDBM is a free database design tool you can use to create database models. The platform allows you to use reverse engineering to import an SQL script to automatically create a database model or use forward engineering to create one from scratch.

Key features:

  • Forward engineering
  • Reverse engineering
  • Team management
  • Create documentation
  • Compare revisions

Why do we recommend it?

SqlDBM is an online system that is highly automated and is compatible with a long list of DBMSs, including SQL Server, MySQL, and Oracle. The system can extract a data dictionary from an existing database and generate an ERD. you can adapt an imported design or create a new one.

To help you edit your databases, SqlDBM supports Alterscripts. Any edits you make to your database model can be monitored by comparing revisions. You can collaborate with other team members by selecting Project Collaborators. Selecting the Allow to Edit option grants users access level permissions.

The software also provides you with a number of features that allow you to create database documentation. For example, you can create specifications with images and export them to PNG.

Who is it recommended for?

The ease of use of this tool means that it is possible to create a database structure without knowing how to write SQL. However, you do need to know the rules of normalization, so this isn’t a tool for complete novices. DBAs and systems analysts would benefit from this system.

Pros:

  • Designed for enterprises and larger databases
  • Supports multiple database types including PostgreSQL, Redshift, and MySQL
  • Features an elegant interface that leverages color to keep things organized

Cons:

  • Better suited for larger database deployments

SqlDBM is an excellent choice for enterprises trying to develop and maintain SQL databases at a low cost. The Free version supports one project and one table of forward engineering at a time. Paid versions start at $240 (£179.47) per year with unlimited projects, tables, and revisions. You can sign up for the software here.

4. dBForge Studio for SQL Server

dbforge studio for SQL server

dbForge Studio for SQL Server is an integrated development environment you can use to design databases. dbForge Studio for SQL Server allows you to create database objects with a visual editor. Similarly, a query builder enables you to build and visualize design queries.

Key features:

  • Visual editor
  • Track database changes
  • Forward engineering
  • Reverse engineering
  • Compare and synchronize databases

Why do we recommend it?

dbForge Studio for SQL Server is the first on-premises system on this list. It is a database management system as well as a database designer. The system can import a design, view a live database, and generate create scripts. You can also analyze existing databases for slow queries and inefficient indexing.

You also have the option to reverse engineer databases through drag-and-drop. For example, you can drag a database onto the canvas view and view database objects on the screen.

With database schema comparison and synchronization, you can manage projects more efficiently. For example, you can generate a schema synchronization script to complete updates, and automatically sync databases through the command line.

Who is it recommended for?

This software runs on Windows. It is suitable for use by DBAs and developers of existing databases. Although the design tools can be used for creating new databases, the database administration features would be unnecessary for pure design teams, who would be better off with one of the other tools on this list.

Pros:

  • Users can create diagrams through a simple drag-and-drop workflow
  • Automatically pulls database properties and dependencies
  • Preview pane makes it easy to search different columns and indexes

Cons:

  • Designed specifically for SQL Server

dbForge Studio for SQL Server is a solution designed for enterprises looking for a tool to create database designs for SQL Server. Pricing starts at $249.95 (£186.88) for the Essential features edition. It is available for Windows. You can download the free trial.

5. DbDesigner

DbDesigner

DbDesigner is a free web-based database modeling tool you can use to design databases and schemas. To design a diagram you can create a UML diagram or import data from an external database. The platform is compatible with a range of database providers including MySQL, MS SQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and SQLite, although reverse engineering is only supported for MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle.

Key features:

  • Forward engineering
  • Reverse engineering
  • Compatible with MySQL, MS SQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQLite
  • Team management
  • Share databases with live comments
  • Export database design
  • Full version history

Why do we recommend it?

DbDesigner is a sophisticated online database designing tool that offers a free version. It can interface with SQL Server, SQLite, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle to extract database definitions and also to generate create scripts. The cloud-stored designs can be shared with others either for editing or just for viewing.

You can share access with other users by entering their email addresses. Adding the email address of other team members will allow them to leave live comments, making it easier to collaborate and make changes to designs. Once you’ve finished editing you can export your database design in PNG or PDF, and create a public view link.

You can manage all projects through the dashboard, where you can open, delete, archive, or copy existing projects and view a full version history of projects. You can also add or remove team members to projects.

Who is it recommended for?

This tool’s free version should be of interest to small businesses. However, the limit of 10 tables per design encompasses very small databases, which most designs would exceed. The 25 table limit on the lower of the paid plans is also very limiting. So, the Unlimited plan is going to have the widest appeal.

Pros:

  • Supports a variety of SQL database types
  • Can export in image or document format
  • Supports internal access controls and auditing

Cons:

  • Visualizations are simple and better suited for smaller designs

DbDesigner is a great fit for teams looking for a browser-based database design tool. The free plan supports up to two database models and 10 tables per model. Paid versions start at $7 ($5.82) per month with support for five database models, and 25 tables per model. You can start the free trial.

6. DbSchema

DbSchema

DbSchema is a database diagram design tool that you can use to design and manage databases. With DbSchema you can reverse engineer schemas from existing databases. A range of DBMS is supported including SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL Oracle, Redshift, Cassandra, and MongoDB.

Key features:

  • Reverse engineer
  • Schema synchronization
  • SQL editor
  • Data importer
  • Database forms and reports designer

Why do we recommend it?

DbSchema is an on-premises system, like dbForge Studio for SQL Server. There are a lot of differences between these two systems, however. DbSchema is offered on a perpetual license instead of a subscription and it is available for macOS and Linux as well as Windows. This package can read in data structures from all the major DBMSs and it will write out create scripts.

Schema synchronization allows you to modify databases schemas and synchronize them automatically when you connect to a database. An SQL editor provides syntax highlighting to make it easier to edit your databases.

You can also execute SQL queries and scripts to view the results as tables and text files. Once you’ve completed a query you can export the result as a CSV or XLSX file. There is also a graphical plan, which you can use to view query execution plans.

You can import data to your database from multiple file types including CSV, XML, XLS, and XLSX. For further design options, you can use the Forms & Reports engine to design database forms and reports. The forms are run as web applications with Bootstrap.

Who is it recommended for?

The free version of DbSchema has no capacity limit on it and it is able to import database structures as well as generating create scripts. This makes the tool very workable for any small business. The paid version is suitable for project teams that don’t need the database administration features of dbForge.

Pros:

  • Works with both local and cloud-based databases
  • Offers built-in collaboration features for teams
  • Supports reverse engineering schemas

Cons:

  • Could use a longer trial time

DbSchema is worth researching for enterprises in search of a feature-rich database design tool. The Personal License costs $127 (£94.99) and supports one user. It is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can start the 15-day free trial.

7. Navicat Data Modeler

Navicat Data Modeler

Navicat Data Modeler is a database design tool that you can design database models with database objects including tables, notes, images, shapes, layers, foreign keys, and more. The platform supports forward and reverse engineering and is compatible with MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, PostgreSQL, SQLite, and Maria DB.

Key features:

  • Forward engineering
  • Reverse engineering
  • Model conversion
  • Database compare and synchronization
  • Access designs through the Navicat Cloud

Why do we recommend it?

Navicat Data Modeler is another on-premises system that runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. This system is able to connect to cloud-based databases as well as on-premises systems. The marketing advantage of this system is that it can be paid for on a monthly of yearly subscription or you can buy a perpetual license.

When designing models you can use Model Conversion to change model types from a Conceptual (Business Model), to a Logical (Technical Model), or Physical (Technical Model). Switching model types allows you to take a closer look at the relationships of linked entities so that you can make more informed design changes.

Database comparison and synchronization allow you to monitor the differences between databases and create a synchronization script to update them. You can also use SQL code generation to create SQL code for your database. All designs can be accessed anywhere in real-time through the Navicat Cloud.

Who is it recommended for?

The Free version of this tool, called Essentials, would be a rival to the free edition of DbSchema. However, this option doesn’t provide database import or create script generation features. This system is intended for database development and doesn’t have any administration functions. Team collaboration is possible with Navicat Data Modeler.

Pros:

  • Sleek and easy to use interface
  • Includes a visual SQL builder
  • Supports Linux, Windows, and macOS

Cons:

  • Would like to see a lengthier trial time

Navicat Data Modeler is worth researching if you need a tool that provides access to database designs in the cloud. Prices start at $229.99 (£172.07) per year. It is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can download the 14-day free trial.

8. SmartDraw

SmartDraw

SmartDraw is an online database diagram tool designed for creating database diagrams. With SmartDraw, you can automatically generate diagrams by exporting data from an existing database with the Automatic ERD Extension. Once the diagram has been generated you can edit your entity relationship diagram by dragging objects to where you want them to go.

Key features:

  • Over 34,000 symbols
  • Forward engineering
  • Reverse engineering
  • Share your designs
  • Compatible with Confluence, Jira, and Trello

Why do we recommend it?

SmartDraw is a similar system to Lucidchart because it is an online cart creation system that can generate a wide list of chart types, not just ERDs. The system supplies an extension to import a data dictionary from existing databases. The tool can store an ERD as an image for reporting.

In terms of design options, SmartDraw has a massive library of over 34,000 symbols, with 70 diagram types, and more than 4,500 templates. While not all of these options are intended for database design there is more than enough to work with for mapping entity relationships.

When you’ve finished working on a design you can share it with apps like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and OneDrive. Diagrams can also be exported as a PDF or as part of a Microsoft Office or G Suite application. SmartDraw is also compatible with tools like Confluence, Jira, and Trello so that it integrates with your wider operations.

Who is it recommended for?

SmartDraw is a good chart creation tool and it isn’t limited to ERDs, so many business departments could use it. The process of importing a database structure is a little complicated because it involves bouncing through a CSV file. The tool doesn’t generate create scripts, so this is suited for use by a high-level designer rather than a DBA.

Pros:

  • Is a simple diagram tool that works for databases and other projects
  • Accessible from any browser
  • Makes it easy to create elegant diagrams

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer any database-specific features

SmartDraw is suitable for enterprises that want a simple online database design tool. The tool costs $9.95 (£7.44) for a single user or $5.95 (£4.45) for five-plus users. You can sign up for the software.

9. Vertabelo

Vertabelo

Vertabelo is a browser-based database modeling tool that allows you to reverse engineer database diagrams automatically by using a command-line tool. The platform is compatible with widely-used databases including Oracle, MySQL, SQLite, IBM DB2, SQL Server, Amazon Redshift, and PostgreSQL.

Key Features:

  • Forward engineering
  • Reverse engineering
  • Share database models
  • Generate SQL script
  • Live validation

Why do we recommend it?

Vertabelo is a cloud-based database design system that competes with the other online systems on this list. This system includes collaboration features enabling you to share ERDs for the purposes of editing or for viewing. Vertabelo can model cloud-based databases as well as on-premises instances. It can import database structure and generate create scripts.

You can share database models by adding the email address of other team members to invite them to work on the document. Designate team members as Owner, Editor, or Viewer to determine whether they can edit or view. You can also share the models from a public link, which you can send to others by email.

SQL script generation allows you to create SQL scripts to create and remove elements from your database. When designing your database design, live validation validates the model and provides you with hints on how to improve it. Live validation is useful for helping to optimize database design.

Who is it recommended for?

This system is a good tool for use by the designers of new databases and it can also be useful for DBAs that need to document existing instances. The system provides a good project documentation aid and can be used by developers and DBAs to adjust existing databases.

Pros:

  • Flexible browser-based tool – accessible from practically anywhere
  • Supports team access
  • Supports live validation – great for monitoring

Cons:

  • Caters more to technical users
  • Would like to see a longer trial period

Vertabelo is a good choice for enterprises looking for a competitively priced browser-based database modeling tool. Prices start at $7 (£5.24) per month for up to five database models and 25 tables per model. You can start the 7-day free trial.

Choosing Database Design Software

Database design tools are useful tools for building databases quickly and painlessly. Out of the tools we’ve looked at on this list Lucidchart, DeZign for Databases, and SqlDBM stand out as tools that provide you with all the features you need to create diagrams efficiently while remaining competitively priced.

However, to find the best fit for your enterprise we recommend trying out at least one free trial before committing to purchase so you can see which tool suits your needs the best.

Database Design Software FAQs

What is the best database design software?

The five best database design software available on the market today are:

  1. Lucidchart
  2. DeZign for Databases
  3. SqlDBM
  4. dbForge Studio for SQL Server
  5. DbDesigner

What is database design software?

Database design passes through a number of phases, starting with attribute identification, normalization, and finally, the creation of an entity relationship diagram (ERD). Database design software can support all of these tasks. However, above all, the database design system will cover the creation of ERD. Many database design systems can also generate out a data dictionary from the ERD to create the database.

What are the four stages of designing a database?

There are three levels of design: conceptual, logical, and physical. When interpreting these levels into stages of design, many theorists claim that the normalization process is a stage in itself. This results in four stages of database design:

  1. Conceptual design
  2. Logical design
  3. Normalization
  4. Physical design

See also: Database Diagram Tools