ERD Tools Blog Feature

10 Best ERD Tools to Visualize and Design Complex Database Models

A sound database system plays a pivotal role in supporting the day-to-day operations of any organization. It helps you organize, retrieve, and compare all kinds of data, from tracking inventory to recording customer info and transactions.

Creating and managing high-performing repositories requires a blueprint, though. Database entity relationship diagrams help you develop that initial outline by defining individual attributes and inter-relationships within records.

Originally proposed by Dr. Peter Chen, a Taiwanese-American computer scientist, this flowchart model promotes a precise understanding of database schemas for tech and non-tech users.

If you’re looking for top-quality tools to create the perfect ERD, you’re in luck! We’ll explore 10 practical ERD tools that provide visual clarity to create cohesive database models. 💯

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What is an ER Diagram?

An entity relationship diagram (ERD) is a type of flowchart used in database design. It illustrates the structure and relationships within a database through three components:

  1. Entities: Denotes objects or concepts in the database
  2. Attributes: Defines entities’ properties. In a typical ERD model, you’ll encounter four attribute types:
    1. Key attributes are for unique identification
    2. Composite attributes are subdivided into smaller attributes
    3. Multivalued attributes hold multiple values
    4. Derived attributes are calculated from other attributes
  3. Relationships: Establishes connections or associations between entities, which can be:
    1. One-to-One (1:1)
    2. One-to-Many (1:N)
    3. Many-to-One (N:1)
    4. Many-to-Many (N:N)

This interplay between attributes and relationships reveals a clear and concise way to depict data organization within any complex system. Let’s say you’re creating entity relationship diagrams for a school—an ER diagram will help you logically map out the connection between students, courses, and faculty members. 🧑‍🏫

What to look for in an ERD tool

While an ERD tool must meet your specific needs and preferences, here are some general factors to consider:

  1. Built-in libraries: Look for ERD templates and symbol libraries within the tool to make diagram creation more efficient
  2. Ease of use: It’s ideal to have an intuitive interface that doesn’t require extensive training for users
  3. Diagramming capabilities: Search for extensive diagramming features and customization options. Desirable tools have digital whiteboards and mind maps to help you craft visually compelling ER diagrams
  4. Database compatibility: You may want the software to support or integrate with your chosen database management system (DBMS)
  5. Collaboration features: If you’re working in a team, you’ll need features for real-time collaboration, like proofing and version control for effective workflow
  6. Import and export options: The ability to import existing database schemas and export ER diagrams to various formats (e.g., PDF, PNG, SVG) may be necessary
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10 Best ERD Tools to Create Database Diagrams in 2024

With the fundamentals of ERD tools covered, let’s delve into the top 10 options for your database diagram needs. 😍

1. ClickUp

Flowcharts and diagrams in Whiteboards
ClickUp Whiteboards offer all the creative and collaborative features you need to construct the flowcharts and diagrams online

ClickUp is much more than a mere diagramming tool—it’s a comprehensive productivity platform that seamlessly integrates tasks, discussions, and documents.

Take collaborative concept mapping and diagramming sessions to a whole new level with ClickUp Whiteboards. It’s a free-form canvas for brainstorming and project planning, allowing multiple users to contribute simultaneously through sketches, texts, images, shapes, connectors, sticky notes, and other media elements. 

Don’t want to build an ERD from scratch? Tap into ClickUp’s extensive library of templates for diagramming and mapping! Effortlessly map out your ERD with the ClickUp Entity Relationship Diagram Template—ideal for laying out complex data structures without coding skills.

This Whiteboard template lets you create primary and foreign keys effortlessly using Custom Fields, providing at-a-glance insights into your ERD relationships. Establish connections within seconds with drag-and-drop nodes. Leverage the zoom levels to model your data at any scale. We recommend using simple ClickUp Automations to apply constraints to ER models. That way, you can ensure consistent and error-free outputs. 🥰

Entity Relationship Diagram Template
Model datasets with accuracy using the ClickUp Entity Relationship Diagram Template

ClickUp Mind Maps is another diagramming feature you can explore. It lets you organize projects, ideas, and tasks by illustrating relationships and hierarchies.

Overall, ClickUp is a highly visual project management solution. With highly customizable Dashboards, 1,000+ integration options, and 15+ views you can represent, review, and logically connect database structure elements in no time!

ClickUp best features

  • Real-time brainstorming and project planning with Whiteboards and Mind Maps
  • Templates with intelligent flowcharting toolbar and ERD shapes
  • 15+ views, like Board and Table views, for overseeing and planning entity relationships
  • Easy export and import of data and diagrams
  • Drag-and-drop interface for no-code mapping
  • Customizable data access levels with ClickUp Hierarchy
  • ClickUp Docs to centralize your ERD knowledge base

ClickUp limitations

  • Takes time to learn the numerous features available
  • The mobile app has fewer features than the web version

ClickUp pricing

  • Free Forever
  • Unlimited: $7/month per user
  • Business: $12/month per user
  • Enterprise: Contact the company for pricing
  • ClickUp AI is available on all paid plans for $5 per Workspace member per month

*All listed prices refer to the yearly billing model

ClickUp ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.7/5 (8,000+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7/5 (3,000+ reviews)

2. Lucidchart

Lucidchart, like its top competitors, is a versatile tool for crafting professional-grade ER diagrams and design ideas, even for the most complex datasets. It allows real-time editing in the cloud, making it an ideal option for remote and distributed teams.

It enables you to create diagrams from scratch or use a wealth of templates, symbols, and notations to fast-track the process.

Create a blank diagram and access Lucidchart’s ERD shape library by clicking the + Shapes button from the menu on the left side of the screen. Once enabled, you can effortlessly drag and drop ERD shapes onto the canvas, giving you a decent head start.

Connecting these shapes is equally intuitive, as you can link them by dragging from the red dots at the shape borders and customizing the line endings using the toolbar above the canvas. 🎨

Lucidchart best features

  • Real-time collaboration with global teams
  • Numerous templates, symbols, and customization options
  • Clean, intuitive interface
  • Supports Visio import and export

Lucidchart limitations

  • Subpar loading time
  • Customizing visual elements can be complicated

Lucidchart pricing

  • Free Forever
  • Individual: starts at $7.95 per month
  • Team: starts at $9 per user per month
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing

Lucidchart ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.5/5 (4,000+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.5/5 (1,000+ reviews)

3. QuickDBD

QuickDBD is a free ER diagram tool of choice if you’re all about precision and keyboard efficiency. It lets you rapidly sketch out database schemas just by typing—all you have to do is feed info about entities, and relevant data boxes will appear on the display! ⌨️

But it doesn’t stop there!

QuickDBD also shines in the collaboration department. Its nifty share-link feature makes working with your team on ongoing structures a breeze. Plus, it supports schema imports from databases like MySQL, MariaDB, Oracle, and SQL Server, helping you generate ERDs without shuffling between platforms.

QuickDBD best features

  • Command-feeding through simple keyboard inputs
  • Private or public ERD sharing
  • Schema imports from MySQL, MariaDB, Oracle, SQL Server
  • Supports exports in PDF/RTF formats

QuickDBD limitations

  • Free plan users are limited to 10 tables per diagram
  • Private storage only available to Pro users

QuickDBD pricing

  • Basic: Free
  • Pro: $14/month or $95.00/year

QuickDBD ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.8/5 (Under 5 reviews)
  • Capterra: 5/5 (5+ reviews)

4. Creately

Creately takes the complexity out of the flowcharting equation by offering an intuitive platform that transforms rough data into polished ERDs. 🎁

With an interactive drag-and-drop interface and a handy toolbar, you have the freedom to build conceptual, logical, or physical data structures. Customize them by adjusting colors, fonts, and attributes that align with your design plan. You can do a diagram text search to find a particular node in a large network.

Creately offers unlimited real-time cursors, helping you team up with colleagues. You can also use comments for asynchronous discussions and follow-ups. Like ClickUp, this tool allows you to configure multiple access and role levels to manage the reviewing and approving of ER diagrams.

Creately best features

  • Intuitive drag-and-drop functionality
  • Single-click personalizations
  • Real-time cursors for collaboration
  • Customizable access levels

Creately limitations

  • Occasionally slow to load
  • Free version could be better

Creately pricing

  • Free Forever
  • Starter: $5 per user per month
  • Business: $89 flat rate per month
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing

*All listed prices refer to the yearly billing model

Creately ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.4/5 (900+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.4/5 (100+ reviews)

5. DBDiagram

DBDiagram is a top choice for developers and analysts looking for a cost-effective web-based entity relationship diagram tool. It prioritizes user-friendliness, letting professionals turn their ideas into clear diagrams with minimal code.

But here’s the exciting part: DBDiagram goes the extra mile by allowing you to get ER diagrams directly from SQL dump files. It can even generate SQL statements to create a database schema. This tool is all about convenience as you can integrate with popular web frameworks like Rails or Django and upload your schema.rb or files in a jiff!

Once your ER diagrams are ready, quickly turn them into PDFs and share them with your team or circulate them internally with a single click. 🖱️

DBDiagram best features

  • Minimal-code diagramming
  • Imports ER diagrams from SQL dump files
  • Web framework integrations
  • Enables PDF conversion and sharing

DBDiagram limitations

  • Handling of foreign keys could be improved
  • Limited customizations

DBDiagram pricing

  • Persona: Free Forever
  • Personal Pro: $7.5/month
  • Team: $35/month

*All listed prices refer to the yearly billing model

DBDiagram ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.3/5 (Under 5 reviews)
  • Product Hunt: 4/5 (30+ reviews)

6. SmartDraw

SmartDraw lives up to its name, offering a hassle-free approach to entity-relationship diagramming. What sets it apart is its ability to automatically generate ERDs using your existing database, providing an initial draft that you can customize further. 

Its wide array of templates with tailored rectangular, oval, and diamond ERD shapes ensures a smooth journey from conception to completion. If the templates don’t quite fit your needs, you can handpick shapes and input data manually, ensuring the final results match your vision. 👁️‍🗨️

Easily add the generated diagrams to Microsoft Office or Google Workspace apps. SmartDraw integrates with common file storage systems, enabling you to store diagrams without creating parallel folders and permissions.

Check out the top SmartDraw alternatives to expand your search!

SmartDraw best features

  • Pre-designed templates
  • Automatically generates ERDs from your existing database
  • Useful integrations
  • Call, chat, and email support

SmartDraw limitations

  • Limited choice of symbols
  • Some users find it time-consuming to delete the default text in the templates

SmartDraw pricing

  • Single User: $9.95/month
  • Multiple Users: starts at $8.25/month per user (minimum of three users)

*All listed prices refer to the yearly billing model

SmartDraw ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.6/5 (200+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.1/5 (100+ reviews)

7. Miro

Via: Miro

Like Lucidchart and ClickUp, Miro has your back with numerous templates covering everything from value chains to project scopes. Its ERD template comes with a predefined map to create your data model. The typical steps include:

  1. Identifying and naming entities
  2. Using connection lines (on the toolbar or with the hotkey L) to establish relationships
  3. Customizing and finalizing the diagram

Miro adds a touch of magic with advanced interactive features that elevate your collaborative diagramming experience. Think of it as brainstorming on a real whiteboard, whether you’re in the office or working from home. Everyone can pitch in, thanks to features like digital post-it notes and hand-drawing. 🖍️ 

Miro best features

  • Real-time teamwork and document editing
  • Offers access to multiple file formats
  • Provides numerous templates beyond ERDs
  • Integrates with other tools and platforms

Miro limitations

  • Limited offline capabilities
  • Steep learning curve

Miro pricing

  • Free Forever
  • Starter: $8/month per member
  • Business: $16/month per member
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing

*All listed prices refer to the yearly billing model

Miro ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.8/5 (5,000+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7/5 (3,000+ reviews)

8. Canva

Via: Canva

Canva’s ER diagram maker is not only convenient but also user-friendly. It impresses with well-sketched-out features to showcase intricate connections within your dataset, helping you detect potential logic flaws or design bugs faster. 🐞

Canva lets you choose from over 20 graph types to represent ER models in diverse situations, ensuring your diagrams are both comprehensive and visually appealing. It also enables easy-to-read graphs with high-resolution publishing.

What sets Canva apart are its rich customization options. You can display entities, attributes, and relationships with plenty of design elements, including images and graphics. To share and embed your diagrams, just use the download and export buttons integrated into the diagram software.

Canva best features

  • 20+ graph types
  • Intuitive and easy-to-navigate interface
  • Handy download and export options
  • Extensive collection of color palettes and font sets

Canva limitations

  • Limited professional editing features
  • May lag with certain integrations

Canva pricing

  • Free Forever
  • Pro: $14.99/month for one person
  • Teams: $29.99/month for the first five people

Canva ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.7/5 (4,000+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7/5 (11,000+ reviews)

9. EdrawMax

EdrawMax is your go-to tool for crafting visually stunning graphs and charts with ease. It’s useful for designing entity relationship diagrams thanks to its customizable, eye-catching design tools. 🌻

To create a new ERD, open your EdrawMax account and navigate to the Database Modeling section (on the left side of the screen). Pick from one of the templates to get started, or just use a blank canvas.

EdrawMax makes it easy to define complex entity relationships with connectors and lines and convert them into the relational schema. The resulting diagram may help you become problem-aware way ahead of time, especially if you want to limit deployment errors.

Once you go into problem-solving mode, you can fine-tune your diagram by adding or removing elements. Save your files securely on the cloud or export them in popular formats like PDF, Visio, HTML, and SVG.

EdrawMax best features

  • Online and offline use
  • Snap and Glue feature to connect shapes
  • Exports files in multiple formats
  • Available on Windows, Mac, and Linux

EdrawMax limitations

  • Can be expensive for some users
  • Resize and align features need improvement

EdrawMax pricing

  • For Individuals
    • Subscription Plan: $99/year
    • Lifetime Plan: $198 (one-time payment)
    • Lifetime Bundle Plan: $245 (one-time payment)
    • Annual Bundle Plan: $126.4/year
  • For Teams: $505.75/year (for five users)
  • For Business: Available upon contact

EdrawMax ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.3/5 (60+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.6/5 (200+ reviews)

10. Visual Paradigm

Visual Paradigm is an online tool with an intuitive editor for ERD modeling. Its ad-free interface ensures your experience is free from salesy distractions.

Create ERD entities with sample datasets or use Model Transitor to duplicate existing diagrams and transitions. Use the Table Record and Database View editors to model your data structure methodically and add tables, columns, and inter-relationships for an accurate visual representation. You can directly generate ad-hoc SQL statements for your data tables.

With unlimited diagram creation and watermark-free image export options, this platform is a versatile choice for both individuals and teams.

Visual Paradigm best features

  • Intuitive ERD editor
  • Unlimited diagrams to eligible subscribers
  • Enables notes, text, and images
  • Allows duplicating models

Visual Paradigm limitations

  • Subpar integration with other systems
  • ERD tools not available to Modeler plan subscribers

Visual Paradigm pricing

  • Modeler: $6/month
  • Standard: $19/month
  • Professional: $35/month (quarterly billing model)
  • Enterprise: $89/month (semi-annual billing model)

Visual Paradigm ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.3/5 (10+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.2/5 (10+ reviews)
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Master the Art of Entity Relationship Diagrams

In your quest to find top-notch tools for crafting entity relationship diagrams, it’s always smart to choose a tool that aligns with your specific requirements. The products we discussed today are highly accessible and available at multiple price points, so your decision-making process should be smooth.

As a standout choice, consider ClickUp—it not only simplifies diagramming for database managers but also offers a myriad of other productivity features. 🤩

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