REVIEWER: Neetu Jaiswal, senior database administrator for OpenTV.

BACKGROUND: OpenTV is one of the world’s leading providers of advanced digital television solutions dedicated to creating and delivering compelling viewing experiences to consumers of digital content worldwide. The company’s software has been integrated in more than 145 million devices around the world and enables advanced program guides, video-on-demand, personal video recording, interactive and addressable advertising and a variety of enhanced television applications.

PLATFORM: We run Embarcadero ER/Studio on the Windows XP operating system using Oracle databases.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In my role as a senior database administrator, there are occasions when I need to understand the structure of my databases, including a clear view of my database schema. This entails reverse engineering the database schema to create a database model that shows me how database elements such as tables and views relate to each other. This process would be exceedingly difficult without a tool to automate the process.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We primarily use ER/Studio to reverse engineer the database from the schema. There are several challenges involved with reverse engineering of a data model from the existing database schema, and ER/Studio helps us overcome those. And, after reverse engineering, I do not have to arrange the table myself because ER/Studio does it automatically and gives me a clear picture, which I appreciate. The importance of this reverse engineering process is that it ultimately helps us improve the performance of our applications, which is the goal. We additionally use ER/Studio to create schema scripts out of the data models to a data definition language file so we can run them at a later time. My team at OpenTV also uses ER/Studio to generate different types of reports and some scripts.

STRENGTHS: One of my favorite features of ER/Studio is the way it presents the model. The tool gives us a wide array of layout options to look at data models and produce diagrams, from circular to orthogonal to hierarchical. There is a facility in the way we can change the layouts and that helps with studying the relationships of the tables, which is particularly useful when we’re reverse engineering from a source that does not contain diagram information. By unhinging the layout, we get a clear picture of the data models.

WEAKNESSES: An issue arose when I attempted to create a schema script from a schema with more than 1,000 tables. The process was progressing slowly and then it eventually failed. I have not duplicated this action since, so I am not sure if it was an isolated instance or not.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Our OpenTV team had been using DBArtisan, another Embarcadero tool, for our database administration functions. We were very happy with the way DBArtisan performed, so we opted for another Embarcadero tool when our need for data modeling arose. It sealed the deal when Embarcadero gave us a good deal for purchasing two of its products at once.

DELIVERABLES: The outputs that I generate most frequently are data models, as well as schema scripts from the models. Additionally, I regularly generate both pictorial and tabular reports.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Although I have only had one occasion to interact with Embarcadero’s support team, I would rate my experience a five out of five. There was an instance when my machine crashed and, when rebuilding it, my ER/Studio license showed as expired. I called Embarcadero’s tech support and they immediately helped me remedy the situation.

DOCUMENTATION: I truthfully did not rely too heavily on the documentation that came with ER/Studio, mainly because I have used other data modeling products in the past and found it very simple to navigate through the tool and find what I needed on my own. The GUI felt familiar and intuitive to me.

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