4 FREE ERD and diagram apps

Ralph Garcia
Feb 26 · 4 min read

Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD) is an important design artifact in many software projects. Our team create a lot of ERDs in our projects both for communication and as reference in database creation and maintenance. I’ve tried a bunch of ERD software lately, and some people have asked me about them so I made a list with seven ERD software I like!

1 — Visual Paradigm Online (Express Edition)

Go to Visual Paradigm Online

Free online diagramming tool that supports a wide range of business and technical diagram types such as ERD, UML, DFD, Flowchart, Org. Chart, Wireframe, Floor plan. Users are offered a free online workspace and allows creation of an unlimited number of diagrams and shapes.

ERD created with Visual Paradigm Online

Pros

  • Free for non commercial use — No ad and allows the creation of unlimited no. of diagrams and shapes, no restriction of access period
  • Support many diagram types: UML, ERD, Flowcharts, organizational charts, wireframes, Influence Diagram, Floor Plan, Network, Rack, Circuit, Piping, SWOT, Block
  • Allow click to use — No prior registration and download required.
  • Dashboard for data organization and visualization
  • Cross platform: Runs well on modern web browsers like Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Internet Explorer 8;
  • Easy to use: Create and connect shapes with drag and drop. Connectors are attached to shape border and will never separate apart (unlike many other tools!).
  • Beautiful drawing: Apply different formatting options, which include shape and connectors colors (fill/gradient), 40+ connector types, background color, RTF caption, font options, shadow effect, etc
  • Alignment guide helps you position shapes nicely.
  • Build your own shape library to create diagrams with your own shapes.
  • Start quickly with the pre-developed diagram templates. Hundreds of templates are provided.
  • Print and export your drawing into document and image formats (PDF, PNG, JPG, SVG, GIF)
  • Imports from Visio
  • Add text, notes, external images, web links to diagram
  • Google integration — Sign in with Google and Google Drive integration

Favorite feature

  • Drag and drop diagram creation interface. VP Online supports a unique feature called “Resource Catalog”, which allows quick creation of shape through drag-and-drop and instant shape type selection.

Trial & Prices

  • Free for non commercial use — No ad and allows the creation of unlimited no. of diagrams and shapes, no restriction of access period
  • Upgrade to Starter / Advance Edition at $4/mo and $9/mo, for more diagram types and advanced features

2 — Microsoft Visio

Go to Microsoft Visio

Well-known desktop diagramming software, and is part of the Microsoft Office product series.

Visio ERD (Photo source: fiverr.com)

Features highlights

  • Creates ERD, organizational charts, mind maps, software prototypes, etc
  • Allows publication and sharing;
  • Not a cloud and web app. Run on desktop
  • Not allow collaboration between teams in real time;
  • Need to downloaded and installed;
  • Only for Windows

Favorite feature

  • Smooth integration with with Microsoft Excel, SQL server, etc.

Trial & Prices

  • 30 days trial period;
  • Office 365 for $13 a month, per user (paid annually) or $15,50 a month, per user (paid monthly);
  • Visio Standard 2016 for $299.99;
  • Visio Professional 2016 for $589.99 (full feature software).

3 — SQLDBM

Go to SQLDBM

SQLDBM ERD (Photo source: elenakadantseva.myportfolio.com)

Feature highlights

  • Easy database on browser
  • Incorporates database rules and objects such as database keys, schemas, indexes, column constraints and relationships
  • Only support MySQL and MS SQL
  • Drag and drop UI

Trial & Prices

  • Free (Beta) with unlimited diagrams and objects

4 — QuickDBD

Go to QuickDBD

QuickDBD ERD

Feature highlights

  • Draw a diagram using just text input.
  • Keyboard support.
  • Support exporting to SQL, PDF and Word

Trial & Prices

  • Free for 1 public diagram and 10 tables, plans at $14/month for unlimited tables and private diagrams.

Other options in the market

Ralph Garcia

Written by

Over 8 years of experience in program and project management, with 5 years of agile software development experience.

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