The practice of reverse engineering has many applications in the world of information technology. It can be used to gain insight into the functionality of a computer program or system that is not fully understood after a corporate merger. Similarly, missing documentation can be created through the process of reverse engineering a software solution. Through reverse engineering, a team can extract an entity-relationship (ER) model from the information contained in a database.
Aqua Data Studio is a flexible and versatile tool that provides database administrators and developers with a host of features. More than 50 different platforms are supported by Aqua Data Studio, which makes it an excellent choice for organizations that have a diverse population of databases. In such a diversified environment, there will undoubtedly be database migrations and consolidations that can benefit from a little reverse engineering. We are going to take a look at how to accomplish this feat using Aqua Data Studio.
Why Engage in Database Reverse Engineering?
When applied to databases, reverse engineering is the process of creating a data model or entity-relationship model from an existing schema. The procedure assists in understanding the database structure and how its objects are related to each other. The information gained by reverse engineering can be instrumental in migrating databases to new platforms.
What you discover through reverse engineering a database can come as quite a surprise. An illustrative example can be seen when a WordPress site was reverse engineered and displayed the existence of only twelve tables. This was unexpected based on the functionality that the site provided. It’s the kind of thing you want to find out when moving databases around or understanding how they work when documentation is scarce.
Rather than wasting time playing around trying to figure out how the parts of two databases might fit together, the use of a tool that facilitates reverse engineering is a more productive route to follow. It can show you exactly what is going on inside the database and make it easier to plan the next steps in a migration.
Using Aqua Data Studio for Reverse Engineering
One of the components of Aqua Data Studio is its Entity Relationship Modeler. This is a flexible tool that has many uses, one of which is extracting an ER diagram from a database. That is another way of saying the tool enables you to reverse engineer a database. The ER Modeler can also be used for several other purposes such as:
- Creating new ER diagrams;
- Generating data description language (DDL) statements;
- Converting models to facilitate database migration;
- Saving, modifying and sharing diagrams.
There are two ways that a database can be reverse engineered using the ER Modeler feature of Aqua Data Studio. They address the different situations under which the process can be used by a database team.
Importing a database to an existing ER diagram
Using this method requires the existence of an ER Diagram where the database vendor and version are already chosen. Follow these easy steps:
- Select Tools > Import Database from the Menu bar.
- Choose the database server from the list of connected systems.
- Select the database, schema, and schema objects you would like to import. The quick filter lets you search for keywords and individual objects or types can be chosen to be imported.
- As the import proceeds, the selected objects will be displayed as entities in the ER model.
Generating an ER diagram with the Schema Browser
Before embarking on this method you need to open Aqua Data Studio's Schema Browser. After that is done, follow this procedure to generate an ER diagram.
- Right-click the selected database or schema object and select Tools > Generate ER Diagram.
- Select the object types and objects you want to be included in the ER diagram.
- View progress as the ER diagram is generated.
- ER Modeler will display the selected objects in a new and unnamed ER diagram.
Screenshots that illustrate the various steps of the process can be found on this page of the Aqua Data Studio documentation.
Combining the wide range of databases that the application supports with the ease with which it can generate the ER models needed for reverse engineering makes Aqua Data Studio a great choice for enhancing team productivity. Creating ER models is just one of the many features that make this an outstanding tool for database teams supporting multiple platforms.