SqlDBM Q3 Update — aka. The Olympic Performance and Feature Pack
3x performance, new features, and a dozen different product enhancements.
In the spirit of the Tokyo Olympics, SqlDBM has decided to go for the gold with its quarterly product update. We are competing in a dozen different events, covering all categories, from performance improvements to enhanced functionality and adding new features. As always, we’ve prioritized these features based on fan feedback so let’s review what our users have been most eager to see.
Performance and capacity improvements
We have raised the bar on the number of objects that our tool can handle. Previously, our diagrams could support up to 450 objects at a time (tables, views, relationships, etc.) While this is enough for most database diagrams, some projects call for more detail, and more objects are required.
Instead of incremental improvements, we are jumping to over 3X! As of now, our diagrams will support up to 1500 objects.
A world record!
No other modeling tool, online or desktop, can handle such a workload.
To support a record-setting 3X object limit, we’ve made performance enhancements as well. SqlDBM can now operate at or near the new 1500 object limit better than it did at 450. Naturally, existing projects will notice a considerable performance boost as well.
In the previous version, performance degradation began to creep in once diagrams grew to beyond 200 objects. With the new framework, small and medium-sized diagrams will run much faster than they did before — allowing users to include yet more detail and navigate smoothly throughout.
Hide relationship option
This feature straddles the performance/functionality divide, defying categorization.
The obvious use-case is to visually “declutter” a diagram by hiding the connectors, allowing you to survey the tables themselves. Hiding the relationship lines allows for an unobstructed review of the database entities, especially after having color-coded them into related entities.
The non-obvious use case is another performance enhancement. By enabling this option, you can speed up navigation on large diagrams by greatly reducing the object limit. Alternatively, hiding the relationship objects allows you to include more objects of other types — tables, views, diagram comments, etc.
Star auto-layout joins our existing “top-down” and “left-right” layout modes. As many database designs follow a natural star schema design, this layout mode helps visually detect them and identify their components.
Star layout is a concept-oriented grouping instead of focusing purely on the symmetric layout of the diagram. You can use it to identify naturally occurring star and snowflake schema patterns in your database designs.
Export to SVG
Users can now export SqlDBM diagrams as scalable vector graphics in addition to the existing PNG option. Although PNG is a lossless image format, PNG images will lose detail when expanded or zoomed. With SVG, the image information is stored as vectors (formulas) rather than static pixels. This means SVG images can be expanded to any size without losing quality.
Although SVG has a larger file size than PNG, many users will prefer it for its versatility when generating project artifacts like documentation and presentations.
With SVG, you export once, then zoom to any level of detail for screenshotting or cropping key sections of a diagram.
Clean, simple, infinite.
SqlDBM diagrams now live on an endless, borderless canvas. Even when you don’t bump up against them, borders add visual noise and impose a psychological burden.
With this feature, the size and spacing of your diagrams are completely unconstrained — visually and mentally.
Improved table edit experience
Large tables can be cumbersome to work with. In addition to the “fixed object height” option, which simplifies viewing large tables on a diagram, this update also improves the editing experience.
Large tables will now sport a scroll bar whenever the edit window risks overflowing past the edge of the screen. This way, you’ll never lose sight of the top and bottom properties while editing individual columns.
We have made the mini-navigator interactive instead of just orientative. Users can now click on the active window rectangle and drag it to any portion of the diagram to navigate there.
This is especially handy when navigating larger diagrams that you’re already familiar with.
Instead of having to scroll or zoom in and out, just pop out the mini-navigator on the bottom right and drag the focus directly to the section you’re interested in.
Interactive dots in “Fixed Object Height”
Another diagram enhancement is the new interactive dots in the “Fixed Object Height” (FOH) mode.
If you’re not familiar with it, the FOH option can facilitate browsing through detailed diagrams by ensuring a more uniform table size on the diagram when column details are not immediately relevant — trimming the display of visible table columns to fifteen.
With the addition of the interactive three-button menu, tables can be expanded to their complete length, without disabling the FOH option or having to edit the table.
Improved formatting in Excel export
We have flattened the output format in our Excel export. All the benefits of the existing export function (e.g., editable field highlighting, descriptions for all supported object types), now in a flattened, tab-separated, filterable format.
Having a flat table format separated across tabs by object type allows users to leverage native Excel features to speed up editing. Filtering by table name or column name pattern is a great way to accelerate working with fields that users are already familiar with.
Yes, we’ve simplified filtering, but grouping object types in separate tabs means you might not have to filter at all. Using tabs, you can jump directly to schema or table objects and edit those details directly without having to sift through other object types.
Search functionality in Forward and Reverse Engineering
SqlDBM excels at importing or exporting large amounts of database objects. Whether it's an entire schema or all modified objects for an upcoming release. With added search functionality in Forward and Reverse Engineering, we make it easy to find and exclude individual objects during bulk operations.
Using the search format that users are already familiar with from other screens like Database Explorer or Data Dictionary, they can now filer while importing and exporting from SqlDBM.
Whether it's to exclude individual objects from a bulk import/deployment or to review their properties in detail, the search function makes it quick and easy.
Grouping by object in Reverse Engineering
This helpful feature works so well for Forward Engineering that we decided to implement it for Reverse Engineering. When importing from a script or live database instance, SqlDBM will automatically organize objects into “Tables ” and “Views.”
This feature is handy when working with new databases where naming conventions might be foreign (or nonexistent). SqlDBM will automatically identify the entities as tables or views to allow for quick selection or review.
They say the hardest battle is the one you fight against yourself. That’s true of the Olympians in Tokyo as it is of SqlDBM’s product ambitions. In our Q2 Olympic update, we’ve worked diligently to pack as much improvement into our tool as we could safely handle.
We are confident that these performance and usability enhancements will make a notable difference in your day-to-day experience with SqlDBM, which is why we chose to tackle such an ambitious target.
Thanks for all the feedback and support in helping us identify and prioritize areas of improvement and helping make SqlDBM the best data modeling tool in the world.