Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Joel and ERWin

Two comments:
1) I eagerly read the article for why someone would spend $6000 for ERWin. Didn't see it. There's nothing Joel does with ERWin that you can't do with Dezign from Datanamics ($150). Someone else mentioned a nice ER modeling tool on here a few weeks ago that's $350 and reverse engineered my database just fine.
ERWin *can* do things that make it worth the money, but I believe those things generally involve managing enterprise database farms or comparing versions or something, not just drawing an ER Diagram and generating the appropriate SQL to generate it.

2) "It's tempting to print out your data model, all 500 pages, and staple it to the walls of your office or cubicle. Please. This is where you spend your entire day. Surround yourself with art, not ER diagrams. You'll be much happier for it."

No. I'll be much happier with a large format printer so I don't have to staple the pages together. When I'm working on a database I want the entire schema at a glance. Even with dualhead I shouldn't have to pull up EM to see what the size of that varchar field was.
Or put it this way, Joel - most developers who have the option will put ER and Class models on their walls. Management doesn't make them; there's no HR drone going around putting programming diagrams on any empty wall space. We do it on our own (and fight for easier ways to do it) Be wary of the "everyone is lost but me" phenomenon. ;-)


Tuesday, March 25, 2003


One of the most enlightened things my current employer has done is train one of the support staff to print out our Erwin models, tape them to the wall, and produce Acrobat versions for access on tablets or from home.


Reginald Braithwaite-Lee
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

heh, makes me glad we use an OO layer on our database. :)

Brad (
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

There are a ton of great E/R tools that are cheap and sufficient.  I use CASE Studio and am happy with it.  But there are a lot of small subtle features that are missing from the cheaper products.

The big one that ERWin has is the ability to generate alter table scripts in order to upgrade a database schema while maintaining existing data.  This is an enourmous PITA to do by hand, and I don't know of any sub-$1000 E/R tool that can do this.

Colin Evans
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

The "Dezign from Datanamics" tool referenced in the first note for this topic is, I think, "DeZign for databases" from Datanamic (not Datanamics, a different company), at:

Philip Dickerson
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

The best thing about ERWin or any other high priced tool/solution is knowing the client list. They are the fish.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Being from .za there is no way for me to get the prog paradize article joel did. I would like to see what he said....
nudge wink anybody

The traditional competition in this segment was erwin, erstudio, powerdesigner. I am interested in Joels view as i am aligned with sybase on powerdesigner - I develop training material in powerdesigner. (for OO/UML and methodology/architecture stuff : design patterns, product families etc)

The evolution of powerdesigner from version 6 (my 1st encounter) is a study in strategy. v6 had a crufty 1st generation win gui - too many modal dialogs, to much multi level brancing from dialogs popping up even more modal dialogs.

erstudio stole a lot of their thunder when they came with a explorer like gui (2nd gen win gui ... hello big bitmap buttons vb4?? yuck) In pd v7 of pd they basically just got the gui right (3rd gen win gui subtle, not in your face eg gradient title bars etc) Erstudio paid some usability experts recently just to prove that their gui is better but the point is that it is ageing. The pd v7 gui retained up to v9.5 of pd will weather some.

pd v7 add object models (just use cases -so overhyped but useless you have to have them-, class diagrams) Intermodel generation was added between UML, Conceptual and physical datamodels.

Subsequent versions added all of UML and intramodel gen i.e. physical datamodel to phys, uml to uml - hello OMG model driven architecture. User defined checks - hello (UML) extension profiles.

Some users complained as the db generation slowed down. The reason was that the gen was refactored so that nothing was hardcoded anymore but lived in object language def/extended model def. The true mark of a mature application - variant behaviour is moved to metadata and a little language. PD has a declarative generation template language and the the (power) user can gen things like deployement desc from their own profiles.

PD has an imperative scripting langauge and metamodel for extensibility basically an embedded wsh that does vbscript. vbscript was chosen for its match with COM.

PD v9 added a free model (user defined semantics, symbols, checks) and business process model. BPM is being beefed up with ia simulation capability (my guess an experiment to lead to... hello executable UML)

I know joel has better things and probably scorn uml, but i wonder if he considered the competition including erstudio (via evaluation copies) before settling on erwin?

Wednesday, March 26, 2003


SQLCompare, from Red Gate, will handle creating change scripts for you.  It can be had for ~$200, so even when combined with any of the "lesser" tools, its still a lot cheaper than ERWin.

Eric K
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Oh yes - SQLCompare, from Red Gate -- very, very good

Duncan Smart
Friday, March 28, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home