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I have a MS SQL database that has been running strong for 10+ years.

I'd like to diagram the database structure, without spending hours laying it all out in Visio or something similar...

I've seen nice models diagrammed before, but I have no idea how they were created. From what I've seen - those models were created in advance of the database itself to assist in clarifying the relationships... but my database already exists!

Does anyone have any suggestions for methods I could employ to tease out a nice clean document describing my database structure?

  • these were some helpful suggestions, thanks to all of you for your help. So far, I've been trying to work with the Visio suggestion by SKaiser... I'd completely overlooked that functionality - so I appreciate that a lot! Generally some great thoughts though - thanks all! – Ejoso May 17 '10 at 6:38
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If you already have Visio (Professional), it has a fantastic database modeling tool that can connect to your database and create an editable diagram from it. I have even used Visio to make diagrams that can then create databases (including relationships, constraints--just about everything).

Visio Standard and Professional comparison: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/visio/FX101757911033.aspx

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We have used SqlSpec successfully at my current place of employment. You should also be aware that SQL Server Management Studio can generate diagrams of databases as well.

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I'm a big fan of Aqua Data Studio's Database query tool, which amongst dozens of other features has a very capable Entity-Relationship Modeler. This thing is amazing in support for just about every database, every operation and every common DBA task you can imagine.

(just a very satisfied user)

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Toad has very powerful modeling components.

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