REVIEWER: John Bossert, data architect for Hubspan Inc., Puget Sound Oracle Users Group.
BACKGROUND: Hubspan connects businesses by providing a complete B2B integration solution for companies of all sizes. More than 10,000 trading partners across 34 countries benefit from Hubspans scalable, flexible technology. Hubspans market-leading solution, delivered as a service, yields increased revenue, improved customer satisfaction and retention, and increased operational efficiency faster and more cost-effectively than in-house development. Hubspan serves some of the largest global enterprises as well as organizations with just a few hundred employees - managing even the most complex business processes.
PLATFORMS: Windows XP, Oracle 10g.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Hubspan is in the process of developing a major application release. We needed a database design tool to design, create and manage a sizeable Oracle database. We also needed a tool that could reverse engineer existing databases for which the company had inadequate documentation or design information.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We wanted to design the new database in a breadth-first manner - i.e., design the basic tables, columns and views and then iteratively refine the design by adding key information, Oracle-specific properties and database optimizations. With ModelRight 3, we were able to quickly design several hundred tables, primarily because the user interface is so simple. You simply select what you want to edit in the diagram or explorer, and then edit it without leaving the workspace (usually right on the diagram). We were able to provide different views of our model by organizing the tables into model subsets that correspond to our functional groups. We also used column domains to ensure consistency of certain types of columns (timestamps, globally unique identifiers, binary large objects) throughout the model. We made extensive use of the scripting application programming interface that the product exposes so that you can create custom features. We wrote VB scripts that ensured FK indexes existed, ensured all constraints had names that were in accordance with our standards, removed redundant indexes and created private synonyms for all our tables.
STRENGTHS: ModelRights main strength is that it is a good all-around data modeling tool that is well-thought out and works without getting in your way. It did everything we needed in a database design tool. The user interface is straightforward. It has all the basic application features like copy/paste, undo/redo, drag/drop, printing and reporting. It has all the basic data modeling features like forward engineering, reverse engineering and sync with database. Plus it has advanced design features like scripting, extensive domain support, extensive graphics options and modeless database compare. It was easy to install, license and use. If you do happen upon a glitch, their support is excellent - providing a fix usually within a day or two. Plus, its affordable to the point that we could put a copy on everyones desk.
WEAKNESSES: Some features are minimally documented and hard to know about. Plus, ModelRight only runs on Windows, and we have a number of Solaris/Linux users at Hubspan.
SELECTION CRITERIA: My predecessors at Hubspan had used various CASE tools for design and development. I knew we needed a visual design tool that could forward and reverse engineer SQL DDL. I looked at several commercial design tools plus a handful of open source tools, and I simply wasnt impressed by any of them from a capabilities or cost perspective. Some of them cost $5,000 yet didnt seem like they would cover my needs for a single project. Considering all the capabilities of ModelRight, it seemed like a bargain.
DELIVERABLES: Weve primarily used the tool to generate drawings for design/product reviews, DDL for database schema generation and to audit against existing schema for consistency with the model. Were in the process of generating our design and product documentation using the reporting capabilities.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Support is one of ModelRights greatest strengths. Not only have they responded quickly when Ive needed specific help, they have incorporated the new capabilities into subsequent releases of the product and made me feel that I play a role in this products growth.
DOCUMENTATION: ModelRights documentation lags the specifications in the tool and could be more detailed for users who arent sure what theyre going to use the product for. Adding detailed instructions for 10 common tasks would be very helpful. However, their online demos are useful for a beginner to help understand the basics.
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