- There are a couple of open-source ER software that are highly customizable.
- You will also find online software to draw ER diagrams that doesn't require download.
- If software for ER diagrams is what you seek, we've selected the best free choices below.
No matter what role you cover in an enterprise, if it regards intellectual work, at some point, your boss could ask you to design an ER diagram for the company.
If you want to be ready for this task, it’s important to have this article saved somewhere on your laptop. In this guide, we’ll show what software solutions you can use to create ER diagrams.
Before listing the tools, it’s important to offer you some background information.
What is an ER Diagram? According to the definition within the LucidChart website, an ER Diagram is:
a type of flowchart that illustrates how “entities” such as people, objects or concepts relate to each other within a system.
Those specific flowcharts can have several sets of symbols. They are also useful to manage and show databases in many fields from research to software engineering.
Now that we have provided you with a definition, let’s dive right in and describe the different software solutions available on the market.
Where can I draw an ER diagram online?
You can draw ER diagrams in many programs that have online platforms, such as Adobe Illustrator, Lucidchart, Canva Diagram Maker, and many others that you will find mentioned below as solutions.
ER diagrams tools help you create and design your diagrams with ready-to-use templates, drag-and-drop symbols functionalities, shapes libraries, and other specialized features.
What are the best ER diagram tools to use on PC?
Illustrator – All-in-one tool for your chart
Adobe Illustrator is an excellent tool for creating ER diagrams although most users utilize it to create icons, logos, illustrators, and other graphic design elements.
Creating an ER diagram in Illustrator is as simple as a walk in the park. All you need to do is draw some squares or other shapes that will serve as blocks of information.
You can then use straight lines and arrows to connect these blocks of information and describe the relationship between them. To insert shapes, you can use the built-in Shape tools.
To highlight particular blocks of information, you can also color them. Even if you haven’t used Illustrator before, you’ll be able to sketch your ER diagram within minutes thanks to the intuitive UI.
The best part is that you can take your ER diagrams to the next level once you’ve become familiar with Illustrator. You can use the built-in editing tools to play with colors, and textures, insert icons, and much more.
With this tool, you can reconstruct complex data into basic graphics with illustrations tools which makes it easier to learn insights and make clever decisions.
The Illustrator app also provides you with faster feedback and sharing features because you can organize memos and comments, making your reviewing task more efficient.
Try Adobe Illustrator to create flowcharts and ER diagrams for both personal and professional use.
Lucidchart – Team feature integrated
Lucidchart is a simple and well-designed online platform for ER Diagrams. It’s a complete tool to design captivating charts for your personal use or professionally for your business.
By using this program, you can envision your database design before you create it, such as the general structure and different kinds of data interaction.
Thus, you can design, patch, or debug relational databases by creating ER diagrams to conceptualize easily your projects while finding faulty information in time.
Lucidchart successfully simplifies designing databases with shape storage and drag-and-drop symbols functionality.
It includes tables, fields, and primary or foreign keys that connect each entity with individual crow’s foot notations to show the cardinality and ordinality of each one.
Therefore, Lucidchart helps you differentiate in a matter of seconds relationships, entities, and their attributes.
Moreover, you can save time creating your ER diagrams because this tool has an automatic generator of models and connections using its data import feature to build your database tables and plans right onto your canvas.
Save time creating your ER diagrams and use Lucidchart’s automatic template generator.
Canva Diagram Maker – Awesome templates
If you want to make free charts online, you can also choose to use the famous Canva software. To use it, simply register, select one of the ready-to-use templates and modify it according to preference.
This free online service (also available as an app for Android and iOS devices), allows creating lots of graphic works in an extremely easy and fast way.
Once arrived there, select one of the options in the box First time on Canva? Subscribe! to specify the personal or professional reason to use the service.
The site will require you to register via an e-mail address, Facebook account, or Google account, by pressing the appropriate buttons.
When registered, start creating the ER Diagram or organization chart. At this point, you have to select one of the templates listed under the Canva Layout entry.
You should also modify the organization chart replacing the example text with the names and positions of the people that make up the team.
If other graphics elements need to be added (eg shapes, logos, illustrations, etc.), text, or upload new images, you can pick the options on the left sidebar.
When the work is finished, download the project by pressing the Download button at the top right, selecting the format in which to save the output file, and pressing again on the Download button to complete the procedure.
Canva Diagram Maker
Try the popular Canva app to create your ER diagrams with ready-to-use templates.
LibreOffice – Open Source
If you are looking for programs to create remarkable free charts and ER diagrams, you should consider trying LibreOffice. This is one of the best free and open-source alternatives to Microsoft Office.
This software also allows you to create organizational charts but not for free. It includes applications for Word processing, spreadsheet processing, database management, and drawing.
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The application designed for drawing – LibreOfficeDraw – allows you to create diagrams, organization charts, and other graphs in an easy way.
The entire LibreOffice suite is available for all major operating systems: Windows, macOS, and Linux.
To download LibreOffice on Windows, you should connect to the program’s website, press the green button to download the tool, and wait for the installation to complete.
If you need to add lines and/or arrows, to connect the various elements of the organization chart, you can press the appropriate items always from the sidebar.
To add text, instead, you can select one of the shapes drawn and type the text desired, to insert it. Once the work is completed, click on the Save item in the File menu to save the changes made.
Xmind ZEN – Limited features
Xmind ZEN is one of the most complete solutions for creating ER diagrams, organization charts, concept maps, and other types of graphs. It is characterized by a very attractive and user-friendly user interface.
It also includes a wide range of pre-set templates from which you can start to create your own graphics. So, it is very intuitive even for less experienced users.
The program is available in various versions: the free version has no major limitations and allows the user to share projects online. It is important to highlight that the software provider applies a watermark to the work.
You can remove this watermark by subscribing to the Premium version. The software is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux and in the form of apps for Android and iOS.
To create free organization charts with Xmind, you must first download the program on a computer. Therefore, you should connect to the online software page and press the Free Download button.
When the download is complete, follow the steps and install the software, then you’re good to go. Thankfully, the software’s interface is easy to follow for anyone.
Note: It is important to remind that the trial version of the program applies a watermark to the works. This watermark is removable only by subscribing to the Premium version.
Diagram Designer – Basic interface
As its name suggests, Diagram Designer is a program that allows you to create ER diagrams, organization charts, and other graphs. It does that through a “spartan” user interface but is rather simple to use.
It includes a wide range of pre-set templates for shapes and arrows, allowing users to create various types of diagrams and graphs very quickly. The program is free and perfectly compatible with Windows.
To download Diagram Designer, go to the software homepage. Then, press the link Download installer and, on the page that opens, click on the Diagram Designer Windows Installer link. The latter is located under the heading “Download”.
When the download is complete, open the .msi file that appears, and press the Next button twice in a row. To end the procedure, press the Install button and, then, Yes and Finish.
At this point, you have only to shape the ER diagram, “fishing” the various elements you want to compose from the menu on the right.
Keep the left mouse button pressed on one of the objects in question (shapes, connectors, etc.), drag it to the work area, and change its position and size using the appropriate indicators.
To edit the text in one of the organization chart nodes, double-click on it, type the desired text in the Insert text field in the object, and press the OK button to apply the changes made.
When the work is finished, open the File menu and select the Save As entry from the menu that opens. This will allow you to save the document in the format and position you prefer.
Smartdraw – Online diagram tool
Another excellent online option is Smartdraw. This program is easy to use and really comprehensive, not requiring any setup to use. You can simply choose from over 70 templates.
Besides that, the software also has integration with most Google products, so you can easily tie your work to your excel and other software that uses such file formats.
You can automatically create an ER diagram, by just putting the data available, without using a time drawing thanks to its True Automation feature.
It has Intelligent Formatting with which you can add or remove more than one shape, and the program will be able to realign and arrange all the ERD elements.
Furthermore, the platform provides professionally-designed ERD examples and other software design diagrams, such as Quick-Start templates.
Smartdraw has free Support, and many users have reported effective customer service online, carried out via live chat or email.
Not satisfied with the software solutions listed above? You did try them, but you want to test other software? You can try as well ERD Plus, ER Diagram Tool, Draw.io and Creately.
This article gave you a glance on the hottest software able to create the best ER diagrams. Let us know which software suits your needs best in the comment section below.
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