Best Practices

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ER/Studio Data Architect Best Practices

Using Descriptive Object Names

Every object in a data mode, such as entities, attributes, attachments, naming standards templates, and domains has a name, which identifies it in the Data Model Explorer, Data Model Window (data model workspace), logs, and reports.

To make it easier to understand data flows, make these names as descriptive as possible. For example, instead of accepting a default name such as "Entity," you might use "Customer."

  • Multiple entities in a model can have the same name, however the combination of entity name and entity owner must be unique. You can edit the Owner property of an entity or table in the Entity or Table Editor.

When naming objects, you can use upper, lower or mixed case. Perhaps the easiest format for people to read and understand is mixed case, capitalizing the first letter of every word (for example, CustomerAddress).

Adding Comments to Database Objects

Every object in a data model has a description or definition that is included in reports. To help document your data models, enter a description or definition for every object detailing its purpose and any other information that might be needed for a future modeler to understand the role of the object in the task. You can also add comments to most database objects. For more information, see Adding and Editing Object Comments.

Entity definitions are included as table comments when generating a physical database and in exported SQL code if the target RDBMS supports table comments.

You can also enhance your data model by documenting relationships. Relationships can also have verb phrases that describe the relationship. For example, a Company employs a Manager who supervises a Worker. You can create relationship verb phrases by double-clicking the relationship, and inserting the verb or inverse verb phrase on the Phrases tab of the Relationship Editor. An inverse verb phrase describes the relationship from the child"s point of view.


Color-Coding Objects

Use colors to make your diagrams more attractive and organized. For more information, see Setting Default Diagram Colors and Fonts and Overriding Color and Font Settings for a Specific Object.

Using Macros for Repetitive Tasks

ER/Studio Data Architect includes many sample macros written in Sax Basic, that can be used as is or that can be customized as required. The tutorials in this guide provide some examples of how macros can save you time. The headers of the sample macros contain some usage documentation but a quick read through of the macro code should give you some ideas of its usefulness. We do not guarantee that the sample macros will all work in all your environments but if you have special requirements you can collaborate with other users through the online user forum or by contacting IDERA Support for assistance.

The Macro Editor uses a Sax Basic Engine that is compatible with Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications. This guide does not extensively describe the syntax or usage of Sax Basic, but there are lots of Visual Basic books available to guide a novice user. The tutorials provide some examples of how macros can save you time.

ER/Studio Repository Best Practices

Your Active Directory Folder and Getting Diagrams from the Repository

Your Active File Directory is where local files from the repository are stored when you perform a Get from Repository operation to get a diagram. When you perform this operation you can obtain two different results:

  • Repository Merge: If there is a local copy of a diagram (dm1 file) in the Active File Directory then the Repository will proceed to merge the Repository model with the local model. If there are any conflicts resulting from changes between the local dm1 file and repository dm1 file, you will see the Review Changes Dialog which allows you to resolve the conflicts. If the local copy of the diagram is checked in (Blue Locks on all objects), then the local copy will be opened and a Get Latest Diagram operation will be performed.
  • Clean Get: If there is no local copy in the Active File Directory, then the Repository will create a new copy of the model. There will be no conflicts to resolve. Typically this is a faster operation than if the repository needs to merge changes between the repository dm1 file and local dm1 file during the get process.

You can get an entire diagram or just a submodel. The local file name will be the same regardless of whether you retrieve a partial dm1 or the entire dm1. This makes it difficult to switch between submodels if you are not retrieving the entire model from the Repository. If you intend to make a change to only one submodel and only that submodel, then you may get a partial dm1, but for all other use cases, you'd better get the entire diagram. It will be much easier to switch between submodels and the logical/physical models when the entire dm1 is retrieved. Also, the Where Used tab is not available when you retrieve only a partial dm1. We recommend you to get the entire dm1 file to work on it.

The Active File Directory should be local to your machine and not located on a network shared with other users. As you are working in the Repository you can save changes locally to the dm1 files in the Active File Directory through the normal File > Save operation. Working off-line is a great way to maximize productivity. As long as you check out everything you need to work on before going off-line, you can safely save changes locally until you decide to check them back into the Repository (see Checking In/Out Objects below for more detail).

Magic Wand Icon.pngTip: In order to improve performance you can open a model directly from the Active File Directory. The object checkout status from when you saved and closed the file will be preserved and you can start working immediately.

If you work with multiple Repositories, you should use different active file directories for each Repository so that there are not any file name/sharing violations for similarly named dm1 files. A good practice is to create one Active Directory with subdirectories for each Repository that can be easily identified.

Notepad blue icon 2.pngNote: Usually a second repository is for a test environment when testing upgrades of ER/Studio. Multiple repositories are not advisable solely for segregating models.

Checking In / Out Objects

Once you get a diagram from the Repository. You can check out the entire diagram or parts of it. The level of check out recommended depends on what changes you intend to make. The Check Out Diagram operation is recommended if you will be making changes throughout the dm1, such as merging models, creating/editing submodels and working in either the logical or physical. The Check In Diagram operation has been optimized for when a number of changes need to be checked back into the Repository and is typically faster than checking in/out at the object level. Checking in/out at the diagram level is recommended for normal daily work on models. If a single, incremental change needs to be made to a specific object, then you should check in/out objects individually.

There are two types of check out operations:

  • Check Out Exclusively: The exclusive check out will lock the checked out objects so that the objects can only be worked on by one individual. If you check out objects, upstream and downstream dependent objects will also be exclusively checked out. It is entirely possible to exclusively check out objects and lock objects from other users without knowing they are checked out.
  • Non-Exclusive Check Out (the default): The non-exclusive check out will allow other users to work on the same diagram at the same time. Conflicts will be resolved upon check in. Unless you want to make absolutely sure no other users is accessing the model you should use the default, non-exclusive check out so that you avoid unintentionally locking out objects needed by other users.

When you perform the Check In operation to an object into the Repository, there is an option to leave objects checked out in the Repository Check In dialog. Select Keep Checked Out if you know you need to do more work on a model, but you want to get some changes into to the Repository for other users to see or use. This is a great way to get working faster the next time you open the local file as it will already be checked out.

We recommend you to Check In your changes at least daily so that other users can see your changes. However, Check In operations are queued up sequentially, on a first-in, first-out basis, with other Repository operations such as Get Diagram, Get Latest and Login, so it is best to figure out a time that works for you where your Repository operations won't be contending with other users.

The Repository Merge Operation / Review Changes

When a model or part of it is Checked In to the Repository, a merge operation is performed between the local dm1 file in the Active File Directory and the one in the Repository. The Repository merge will compare the changes in the local file with the model in the Repository.

To review the changes, select the Review changes before check in option in the Repository Check In dialog. This opens the Review Changes and Resolve Conflicts dialog and shows the conflicts in a categorized way.

  • The Check In operation is not complete until the Review Changes... dialog has been closed and the dm1 file has been refreshed by ER/Studio Data Architect. If you leave the Review Changes... dialog open while reviewing with a colleague or leaving your desk, you could be holding up pending operations by other users. If you need to review the changes more closely, you should generate a report to analyze the changes more closely.

Auto Publish during Check In of Objects or Diagram

Auto Publish is an option to automatically publish model modifications to Team Server when a modeler is checking in a particular object, a set of objects, or an entire diagram. This option is available in the Repository Check dialog only for Check In objects and Check In diagram workflows.

The Auto Publish checkbox is visible and enabled when Allow override of diagram auto publish default at check-in is set to Yes in Team Server > Admin > Publication Preferences. This option's value is honored by the Allow publish default value preference in Team Server > Admin > Publication Preferences. If the override preference is set to No, then the default auto publish value (Yes) is followed.


  • Access the local file in the Active File Directory to get working faster.
  • Keep items checked out.
  • Check in items daily.
  • Review changes to compare Repository and local file differences, but don't keep the Review Changes... dialog open for too long.
  • Check in/out at the diagram level to minimize Repository contact and maximize your ability to work across the entire dm1 file.
  • Check in/out at a more granular level only if you intend to make just a quick change to a specific object.
  • Auto Publish the diagram during check in.

See Also