Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERDs) are visual tools that help show relationships between different entities stored in a database. Such diagrams come in handy for database designs and business processes, etc.
An ERD helps you identify the flaws and mistakes in the design before the practical application. So, it is an integral part of database design. For this purpose, many software exist that you can use to make an ER diagram. In this article, we will discuss two software: Microsoft Visio and EdrawMax.
Microsoft Visio is a visualization tool that shows data in an easy-to-understand manner. It is an excellent diagramming tool. So, we will look into the steps of creating an ER diagram in Visio. Visio provides you with two stencils for different kinds of ERDs. Each stencil uses specific symbols for the representation of entities and relationships.
We will explain making an ERD first by using the Crow’s Foot Notation and then Chen’s Database Notation.
Using Crow’s Foot Database Notation
Crow's Foot Notation is a simple notation that helps illustrate the relationship between entities. It describes the relationship with the help of connected lines, with symbols at either end that describe the relationship's cardinality.
It communicates complex relationships in an easy-to-understand manner. Now, following are steps of using Crow’s Foot Notation in Microsoft Visio to make an ERD.
Step 1: Set the proper settings. Go to the File menu, click on “New” and select “Crow’s Foot Database Notation.” Then choose the desired unit system and click on “Create.”
Step 2: Draw the entities. Now, start drawing the entities by dragging an Entity shape from the Crow’s Foot Database Notation stencil. Draw as many entities as you require.
Step 3: Draw the relationships and cardinality. In this step, drag a Relationship shape from the stencil to draw the relationships between entities. Drag the ends of the relationship line to connect it to the entities or their attributes.
After drawing the line, set the cardinality by right-clicking on the relationship line. Click on the "Set Begin Symbol" and "Set End Symbol" to set the start and end cardinality, respectively. Customize it according to your needs.
Using Chen’s Database Notation
Chen’s Database Notation is used to present an abstract view of associations between entities. Such an ER Model helps in understanding database structures. Chen’s notation is commonly used for brainstorming and quick diagramming.
In this notation, rectangles represent entities, ovals represent attributes, and the relationship is shown with a diamond shape and some description. Follow the steps below to draw an ERD using Chen’s notation in Visio.
Step 1: Open Visio and Choose the diagram type.
Step 2: Draw the entities. Now, start drawing the entities by dragging an Entity shape from Chen's Notation stencil. Draw as many entities as you require.
Step 3: Draw the relationship. Drag a Relationship Connector shape over the entity. This will connect the connector to the entity. Drag the other end of the connector to the other entity.
Step 4: Add the attributes. Drag "Attribute" from the stencil towards the entity. Release the attribute over the entity to connect the entity and the attribute. Right-click on the attribute to set its type (primary key, multivalued attribute, derived attribute, or required attribute).
Your ER diagram is now complete.
All-in-One Diagram Software
- Superior file compatibility: Import and export drawings to various file formats, such as Visio
- Cross-platform supported (Windows, Mac, Linux, Web)
Step 1: Open an ER Diagram Template
Double-click the icon of Chen ERD or other types of diagrams to open a blank drawing page. You can choose and open one of the pre-made ER diagram templates to save your time of building the ERD from scratch.
The below is how the template of a database model diagram looks like in EdrawMax.
Step 2: Open ER Diagram Symbol Libraries
Click on the “Library” button found in the left menu, and then you can enable all the symbol libraries of ER diagrams that are pre-defined in EdrawMax, including Crow’s Foot Database Notation and Chen’s Database Notation. You can add symbols to the canvas by clicking on the desired symbol and dropping it wherever you want it.
Step 3: Change the Style of the ERD
Click on the [Theme] button on the right sidebar and open the [Theme] pane. Then you can change the theme color, connector style and font types as your like.
In the meanwhile, you can try our newest feature of styling - "Auto Formatting." With the visual reasoning engine, EdrawMax can auto-change the style of your diagrams based on professional color schemes from our top designer. Creating beautiful diagrams is easier than ever!
Step 4: Save and Export the ER Diagram
After creating the ER diagram, you can save and export the ER diagram in a number of file types, including PDF, PNG, JPEG, PDF, DOCX, XLSX, PPTX, and VSDX for Visio. Thus, even non-Edraw users can read and edit your ER diagrams.
In fact, EdrawMax also supports our users to import the Visio files and convert your ERDs in seconds.
You can watch the video below and learn more details!
ER diagrams are beneficial and make your life easier. Thus, it is best to use efficient visualization tools to make ER diagram creation quick and straightforward. You can use Visio for this purpose as it is striking software.
However, in case you are looking for an alternative, EdrawMax is the next best thing. It is a user-friendly and simple tool that will surely make your ERD creation experience unique.