A Better ERD

Marek Koenig specializes in Business Intelligence, SharePoint and Custom Development.

Marek Koenig

The problem that I have with big Data Warehouse projects, is that it’s somewhat difficult to document the system in a useful way. I’m sure everyone has seen an entity-relationship diagram (ERD) before, and there are some definite usages for them.

If you’re trying to document the current state of the system, then yes, an ERD is perfect. But if you want to understand the kind of data that makes up the warehouse, then you have to resort to a source to target mapping document. It does a good job of keeping track the vast amounts of information, but sometimes it’s just hard to make sense of it all.

I channeled this frustration into a bit of creativity and this is what came out:

The diagram is kind of a best of both worlds, you have the relationships between tables shown and you can see where the data is coming from. One good use of this visualization would be to track normalization of your data. If you see a bunch of the same color across your design, then maybe there is some room for improvement.

This may not completely replace an ERD or a source to target mapping, but I think it’s a nice addition that can provide some valuable insight in a design review.

Now if only Visio did something like this, I’d be pretty happy.

About marek koenig
Microsoft consultant specializing in BI, SharePoint and custom development.

4 Responses to A Better ERD

  1. Well, it’s a vital concept Dude……. I think an entity-relationship diagram as (ERD) does play an important role for our business development. Hopefully the entire people should enjoy using this technology. Thanks for Distributing this vital project 🙂

  2. Tavo De Leon says:

    You propose an innovative approach to enhance the ability to communicate via an Entity Relationship Diagram.

    I have included your posting on my blog – BigDataArchitecture.com

    Thanks for your expertise.

  3. Todd Floor says:

    All I can say is thanks for the great post. There is a lot of room for better tools in the industry, which is what we are tying to do. For sure, we can help you with the data fluidity and customization, even in teams. Here’s a link to our erd diagramming tool. It’s drag and drop and all users see and update one copy in real time. Let us know if this tool empowers you.

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