PowerDesigner training now available via IRM UK

So you’ve bought Sybase PowerDesigner, and your experienced data modellers are flummoxed. Why did we buy this tool, they exclaim? It doesn’t work the way I think it should! They’re bound to be familiar with other data modelling tools, and they soon realise that PowerDesigner operates differently – it has its quirks, and they need to know how to make use of them. They’ll also need to know how to take advantage of the features that they may not have seen in other tools, such as the Dependency Matrix.

IRM UK can now provide a 2 or 3 day in-house PowerDesigner training course, which I’m very pleased to provide for them.

The course commences with a discussion of the different types of data model supported by PowerDesigner, followed by a detailed explanation of the PowerDesigner working environment.  Once you’ve got to grips with the environment and facilities, you’ll work through a detailed case study, creating a chain of data models from Conceptual to Logical to Physical, applying normalisation and de-normalisation techniques where appropriate. In the case study. you’ll see how PowerDesigner Projects enable you to visualise and manage your chain of models.

In addition, you’ll see features added in version 16 and 16.1 – the Glossary and Reference models, and the improved Web Portal.

Visit the IRM UK web site to find out more.

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How to display the ‘missing’ toolbars in PowerDesigner 16.1

I’ve started working with the new release of PowerDesigner, and almost immediately I realised that something was missing, the Layout toolbar, which I use to help make my diagrams more readable. The alignment commands are available from the Symbol menu, but I prefer to use the toolbar. I raised this with Sybase – the toolbar is still there, just hidden away.

the Layout Toolbar

Sybase decided to make several toolbars optional in PowerDesigner 16.1. By default, the Layout, Check, Format, Window and Repository toolbars are not visible; they do not appear in the list of available toolbars. You need to use one of the customisation features of PowerDesigner to enable these missing toolbars.

On the Tools menu, select Customize Menus and Tools, select the Toolbars tab, click on the word Toolbars, then click on Add Command and select the toolbar you want to use. Repeat this action for each toolbar you want to enable.

PowerDesigner 16.1 – features

The dust has settled on PowerDesigner 16.0, and now Sybase have released 16.1. I didn’t notice any fanfare or an announcement, but here it is. There’s something in it for most users, in a number of areas of the product:

Repository, Local Browser Filter, Enterprise Glossary, Security Enhancements, PowerDesigner Portal, IPv6 Support, Resource Files, Symbol Improvements, DBMS Support for PDM.

Repository

Branches in the repository have been completely re-architected. The key new feature here is the support for branching on a folder-by-folder basis.

Local Browser Filter

The Local tab of the Browser now includes a filter. To filter the Browser tree, start typing the name of an object that you want to find in the Filter box. The filter applies to all open models in the workspace.

Browser before filtering

Browser with filter applied

 Enterprise Glossary

The Glossary browser used to have two views; these have been replaced by one single view with another of those built-in filters:

Glossary before applying filter

Glossary after applying filter

There is a new Glossary feature – a “terms list”, which presents terms and their definitions in a list format in the canvas. This list can also be used to enter new terms and their definitions, and to edit terms (it’s like a standard list report, so you have control over which properties and terms are shown in the list).

New List of Terms

You can now create list reports and dependency matrices in the glossary.

Here’s a list report showing synonyms

A dependency matrix is a good way of showing links between terms.

Create a matrix with these properties

An example of the output (filtered)

Here’s an example of this matrix. The matrix has been filtered so that it only shows terms that have related terms specified. The term ‘Address’ is linked to three terms via the ‘Related terms’ property.

There are new model checks on to summarize all the terms in object names that are not in the glossary. Users with the appropriate permissions can merge these missing terms into the glossary:

Merging candidate terms into the Glossary

Security Enhancements

Repository and database security is enhanced as follows:

  • A password is now required to connect to the repository, and connection passwords are not saved locally.
  • Administrators have granular control over the complexity and lifetime of passwords via a password policy
  • All communication between the PowerDesigner client and the repository proxy are encrypted. Communications between the proxy and the repository server or between PowerDesigner and a database via ODBC or JDBC can be encrypted if the driver supports it.
  • it is now possible to create an emergency administrator account to regain access.

PowerDesigner Portal

The following enhancements have been made to the PowerDesigner Portal:

  • Quick search is now available on all PowerDesigner Portal tabs.
  • Rich text editing is now supported directly in the PowerDesigner Portal, including support for creating and editing tables, images, and hyperlinks.
  • Support for modifying the new repository password policy.

IPv6 Support

Resource Files

The library now supports pushing DBMS and language definition files, extensions, and other resource files to users. Resource files synchronized through the library are automatically included in resource file lists, the New Model dialog, and anywhere where a resource file can be selected.

You can now specify multiple paths for each type of resource file, and PowerDesigner will search all of these paths and combine the results in order to populate resource file lists.

Symbol Improvements

The three labels that can be displayed at the source, center, and destination of link symbols can now be resized independently.

DBMS Support for PDM

Support for Sybase IQ v15.3 and v15.4 has been added, including reference architecture sizing.

Reviews published on mypowerdesigner.com

My detailed comparisons of PowerDesigner against ER/Studio and ERwin are now available on mypowerdesigner.com. Just click on any of the ‘why PowerDesigner?’ links, then click on “An Invitation to Compare”. The reviews are already out of date – CA have announced a new web portal for ERwin, which they unveiled on February 1st. PowerDesigner 16.1 is also available – I’ll talk about the new features soon.

Update on ERwin r8.2

As promised, here’s an update to my initial post on Wednesday’s announcements from CA ERwin, following CA’s responses.

So, what’s new?

ERwin r8.2 new features (based on the part of the presentation I saw on Wednesday – I haven’t found a feature list on erwin.com)

  1. Active Model Templates – more granular re-use of model objects
  2. Concurrent licencing – don’t pay for a licence each if your users don’t work on data models full-time; let them share a few licences

Two new products

  1. support for a new relational DBMS – Microsoft SQL Azure. Manage and understand your cloud databases in the same way as you do your in-house databases, via a new stand-alone edition of ERwin Data Modeller (this does also support additional DBMS platforms)
  2. A new web portal – this is the big part of the announcement, and it plugs a gaping hole in the product line. As a first release, it’s pretty good – other vendors should take note.

The new web portal

Standard Edition

  • models can be loaded from files but not from the Model Mart
  • maximum 50 users
  • limited customisation
  • runs on the SQL Server Express database, making implementation simpler

Enterprise Edition

  • models can be loaded from files and from the Model Mart
  • 400+ users supported
  • Versioning & Configuration Management support (separate from the Model Mart)
  • Object Customisation through user-defined properties (separate from CA ERwin UDPs)

The portal doesn’t interrogate the live model mart repository, you extract models from the model mart and load them into a separate database. The extraction process uses metadata from the models to construct links between models and between objects in models, which can be searched and browsed; this type of searching isn’t supported by ERwin Data Modeller. The links can be visualised in diagrams, generated via Flash.

The portal comes with pre-defined ‘business’ and ‘technical’ views, tailored to different audiences – these views can be altered (with the Enterprise Edition, custom interfaces can also be created).

Access is based on‘configurations’ – these appear to be groups of models with defined access permissions. Note that these are separate from any permissions set in the Model Mart.

The key portal functions are:

  • search
    • keyword-based search, allowing you to filter by object type, property type, and model
      • cannot distinguish between entity/table or attribute/column (no surprise there, this is ERwin after all)
    • search results show the name, definition and comment of each ‘hit’
    • click on an entry in the search results to go that object in the portal, within a list of objects in the model the object lives in
      • now you can click on other objects in the model and check out their properties using the browser (see below)
    • the portal opens several tabs, so you don’t have to keep clicking on the back button in the web browser
  • reports
    • several pre-supplied reports – these are not RTF-style reports, the output is tabular
    • you can choose which properties to show in the report, the display sequence, and the ordering
    • the content of a report can be exported to a CSV file
  • browse
    • like the browser in ERwin data modeller, except you can browse lots of models at the same time
  • lineage
    • this is the really fancy part of the new portal – it can create diagrams showing the lineage of models and model objects, presumably tracing the links I mentioned earlier.  These diagrams aren’t available in ERwin Data Modeller. The diagram symbols are hyperlinked, so you can see the properties of the underlying objects, though I’m not sure if you can trace through dependent objects to show further context. One nice feature is the ability to copy the URL for the diagram – anyone else with the same URL will see the same diagram that you can see. There didn’t seem to be a way to save the diagram view, so that’s a nice stopgap.
    • one good use of this feature is to view links between models, so you can see how you’ve built your enterprise layers, and presumably show how models are synced to each other
  • diagrams
    • you can view scalable images of diagrams extracted from your ERwin models. The symbols are hyperlinked, so you can see the underlying object properties
    • you can flip the diagram between the logical and physical views, change some of the detail displayed, and switch notation between IE, IDEF1X, UML etc

Find out more from CA – http://erwin.com/products/detail/ca_erwin_web_portal/

Let’s hope the ERwin product team haven’t exhausted themselves with this release of the portal, and continue the good work! As I’ve already said, the lineage diagramming stands out for me – generating diagrams from metadata is definitely the way forward.

ERwin r8.2 features demonstrated today

I’m glad I attended CA’s webcast today, introducing two new products and the new release (r8.2) of ERwin data modeller. Unfortunately, I missed the first 17 minutes, so I missed most of what Donna Burbank said – I did see Neil Buchwalter’s demo of the new portal, so hopefully I covered it all. It’s a shame there was no Q&A at the end, as I’d sent a string of questions. I’ve been told that the product team will answer my questions directly.

So, what’s new?

ERwin r8.2 new features:

  1. Active Model Templates – more granular re-use of model objects
  2. Concurrent licencing – don’t pay for a licence each if your users don’t work on data models full-time; let them share a few licences

Two new products

  1. support for a new relational DBMS – Microsoft SQL Azure. Manage and understand your cloud databases in the same way as you do your in-house databases
  2. A new web portal – this is the big part of today’s show, and it plugs a gaping hole in the product line. As a first release, it’s pretty good – other vendors should take note.

From the demo I saw today, here’s how it seems to work. If you see an asterisk * next to a point that’s in italics, that’s me reading between the lines of what I saw on screen. If I’ve got the wrong end of the stick, I’ll come back to this post and change it.

  • * the portal doesn’t examine the live model mart repository, you extract models from the model mart and load them into a separate database
  • * the generation process uses metadata from the models to construct links between models and between objects in models, which can be searched and browsed; this type of searching isn’t supported by ERwin Data Modeller
  • you can create ‘configurations’ – these appear to be groups of models with defined access permissions
    • * these appear to be different from the model mart permissions – maybe they’re linked, maybe not
  • the portal comes with pre-defined ‘business’ and ‘technical’ views, tailored to different audiences – these views can be altered (* can you create your own?)

The key portal functions are:

  • search
    • keyword-based search, allowing you to filter by object type, property type, and model
      • cannot distinguish between entity/table or attribute/column (no surprise there, this is ERwin after all)
    • search results show the name, definition and comment of each ‘hit’
    • click on an entry in the search results to go that object in the portal, within a list of objects in the model the object lives in
      • now you can click on other objects in the model and check out their properties using the browser (see below)
    • the portal opens several tabs, so you don’t have to keep clicking on the back button in the web browser
  • reports
    • several pre-supplied reports
    • * you may be restricted to one type of object per report
    • these are not RTF-style reports – the output is more like a spreadsheet
    • you can choose which properties to show in the report, the display sequence, and the ordering
    • the content of a report can be exported to a CSV file
  • browse
    • like the browser in ERwin data modeller, except you can browse lots of models at the same time
  • lineage
    • this is the really fancy part of the new portal – it can create diagrams showing the lineage of models and model objects, presumably tracing the links I mentioned earlier. As far as I know, these diagrams aren’t available in ERwin Data Modeller. The diagram symbols are hyperlinked, so you can see the properties of the underlying objects, though I’m not sure if you can trace through the diagram to show further context. One nice feature is the ability to copy the URL for the diagram – anyone else with the same URL will see the same diagram that you can see. There didn’t seem to be a way to save the diagram view, so that’s a nice stopgap.
    • one good use of this feature is to view links between models, so you can see how you’ve built your enterprise layers, and presumably show how models are synced to each other
    • * lineage only seems to include generation links (e.g. table generated from entity, column generated from attribute) or synchronisations – it doesn’t include entities and their relationships
  • diagrams
    • you can view scalable diagram images. The symbols are hyperlinked, so you can see the underlying object properties
    • you can flip the diagram between the logical and physical views, change some of the detail displayed, and switch notation between IE, IDEF1X, UML etc
    • * I’m not sure if the portal can create ERDs, or just display existing ones imported from model mart

Let’s hope the ERwin product team haven’t exhausted themselves with this release of the portal, and continue the good work! As I’ve already said, the diagramming stands out for me – generating diagrams from metadata is definitely the way forward.

Data Modelling Zone – new conference in Baltimore in November

If data modelling is the focus of your life, and your boss never lets you go to conferences because there aren’t enough data modelling sessions, I have some good news for you. My publisher, Technics Publications, is hosting a new data modelling event later this year.

Data Modelling Zone will take place from November 12th-15th on the Baltimore Harbour Waterfront. If you are interested in submitting a possible session for the event, or just want to find out more, visit the Data Modelling Zone. The Call for Speakers is open until March 1st. I’ve already agreed to present, so I|’ll be there.