Designing changes to data models.

I have been on the hunt for the perfect database modelling tool and haven’t been able to come up with one that is much better than the one that sits under your nose. That is Microsoft Excel or a similar spreadsheet tool.

I am finding a very quick and easy way to design a new system or make changes to an existing one is to start with a spreadsheet containing worksheets for each table in the existing data model I want to change. On each worksheet I put the table columns and description as separate rows.

I find this is great because I like to see the final result rather than the plans. By putting the data on the same sheet as the schema I am able to quickly see what affects adding new columns will have on the underlying data. Also it lets me do a paper test of the schema before starting coding.

I am still looking for a better way of doing it. I know there are some guys who can sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper and design the perfect database model. But for me at least I like to design my tables around the data they store, the processes that manipulate the stored data and around the end user screens that access the data. Which is why doing it in Excel is so great.