Microsoft Improves Database Diagramming in Visio Pro

A new database modeling tool helps customers quickly visualize their database setups and explore the relationships between their various elements.

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Microsoft is using Visio Pro, the company's diagramming application, to shed light on complex database deployments and businesses processes.

First, the company announced a database reverse engineering tool that allow users to explore the structure of their databases and how the various elements work together. Available in the Database Modeling add-in, the tool supports several popular databases, including MySQL, Oracle, and of course, Microsoft's own SQL Server.

"Using an intuitive wizard, you can select the source database and specific elements to include in the visual, giving you full control over the resulting diagram," blogged the Microsoft Visio group in a Feb. 23 blog post. "In addition to tables and views, you can also incorporate stored procedures and specific table objects, like primary keys, indexes and triggers. Best of all, the database diagram updates when the source information changes, helping ensure everyone has access to the latest data."

Additionally, the software accomplishes this without exposing the underlying source data, ensuring that unauthorized IT personnel isn't sneaking a peek at sensitive or private information.

Microsoft has also opened the floodgates for industry-specific templates from approved third-party developers.

Currently, the marketplace includes 50 templates along with 100 sample diagrams, including templates from Canadian business process management specialist Trisotech. Offerings include Business Process Model and Notation for professional process models, Case Management Model and Notation and Decision Model and Notation for business decisions and rules.

IT workers can use Altima Technologies' NetZoom manufacturer-specific stencil library to accurately map their IT environments down to the device level. Microsoft contributed three Unified Modeling Language (UML) 2.5 templates, used for creating electrical diagrams that conform to Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards or charting software logic flow.

In the classroom, history and geography lessons can take an interactive turn with maps from Visio Guy. Microsoft is offering templates and sample diagrams subjects each on various STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects like algebra, chemistry and physics. After the school bell rings, educators can use new templates for extracurricular programs and activities, including music, gaming and sports.

Apart from new add-ins, templates and sample diagrams, Microsoft has been making other moves to help popularize the venerable diagramming software.

Late last year, the company announced that Visio diagrams were making the leap from the desktop to the iPad with the release a preview of its new Visio Viewer software for the Apple iOS. Although it falls short of the full diagram creation experience offered by the desktop applications, it nonetheless allows users to access and explore their business' Visio content on the portable, touch-enabled and pixel-packed screens on Apple's tablets.

"Built for iPad Retina display, Visio Viewer for iPad brings high-fidelity viewing of real-world processes and plans on the go. With the new exploration experience, plant managers can zoom in to production line issues from remote facilities," among other business scenarios, said the Visio team in a Dec. 8 announcement.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...