Five reasons why we built Vertabelo

We are launching a new product on a market, so let me tell you the short story about how and why Vertabelo was born.

e-point and I personally have more than fifteen years of experience in building business applications. All of them use relational databases as a storage for their data. Most of those applications are rather big - think about hundreds of tables in a database and hundreds of screens in a UI. We had to design databases in a visual way!

We tried many tools and in 2003 finally we decided to use Sybase Power Designer. Since 2003, we have performed hundreds of db designs and gathered a lot of experience on how particular features work and how they should work. After ten years of experience we know all the pros and cons of this type of tool.

As time flies and the work environment changes we have discovered that such tools don't match todays requirements. So a year ago we decided to build a database designer that matches our needs.

Please look at the main reasons that drove us to start Vertabelo. I believe that you will find something that bit you.

Reason #1 - Lack of collaboration features

Although existing tools are software they don't match the criteria of the current digital world. Look at the first example from the edge. A software architect draws a database and wants to share it with ten programmers. What options does he have?

  • Print ten copies on a paper - what if the diagram is A0 in size?
  • Export the diagram to an image and it send via email.
  • Give the original file to all programmers and provide everyone with a tool that costs thousands of dollars. Is it a real option? See reason #5.

Now think about the following aspects:

  • What if the diagram changes every day?
  • What if a programmer finds a typo in a model? Is it a good idea to allow him to correct the model?
  • What if you have two/three architects (typical situation in a bigger project)? How can they collaborate on a database design?

Existing software doesn't support these requirements at all.

Reason #2 - Lack of distributed teams support

The current working environment is significantly different from that when the existing tools were born. Teams are spread all over the world. They travel a lot and need to work from many different places as well as from home. The only tool we often have is a web browser and access to the Internet.

Existing tools don't follow changes in the working environment.

Reason #3 - Overcomplicated features and UI

If you look at existing db design tools you simply notice that they are full of features that you never use. These features result in tons of menus, tabs, options, dialogs, etc. It seems that they are trying to cover everything that has happened in databases in the last thirty years. This cannot be done well! In fact, the main goal - designing a db - is missing in a jungle of minor and unnecessary features.

Reason #4 - Windows desktop lock-in

Linux and Mac users are completely ignored! Most existing tools that you may want to use require Windows. If you want to work on Mac or Linux you have to run Windows on one of the virtualization platforms. So you pay for a designer tool, a virtualization platform and Windows. Are you comfortable with this? Besides the cost, it doesn't fit into your natural environment so you are not as efficient as you might be.

Reason #5 - Unacceptable prices

Existing tools come with an unacceptable level of prices. You have to design a database for your app, for example a simple shop, a forum, a catalogue of something, usually with 20-30 tables. Are you ready to spend thousands of dollars for ERwin or Sybase Power Designer to do that? I'm not sure. You probably write SQL script manually in a text editor. That is absolutely no fun at all.

I will tell you more. e-point is not a small software company. We employ about one hundred professionals and build big systems. But every time we have had to buy Sybase Power Designer we thought about it ten times before we spent a dollar.

If you feel similar pain using (or not) existing tools, now you know why the Vertabelo was born. Building Vertabelo, we focus on:

  • Delivering features that you really need.
  • Collaboration and distributed teams support.
  • A user interface that is clear and non-intrusive.
  • Ability to work directly from your web browser (no plugins needed).

All of this for free or at very reasonable prices.

Try it!    Use it!    Enjoy it!

Don't forget to give us feedback.

Jarosław Błąd 9th October 2013

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