Almost all my sites are database driven using MySQL. I use phpMyAdmin for data manipulation most of the time. But I also need a way to keep track of the design and quickly analyze which tables to touch in case there is need for data repair. I though about drawing them on paper but it can be hard to put down 30 tables.
Recently I tried a couple of free product and the goal is to use the reverse engineering functionality to create a visual table schema so I can refer to from time to time.
First I tried to use the MySQL GUI tool from the mysql.com.
The package includes some nice tools but I was only interested in the MySQLWorkbench. Once connected to the database, it can reverse engineer the table design and present it on a nice graphic page. I re-arranged the tables and decided to print it out. And here is when the problem came. No matter how I tried the tool won't print for me. It seemed to hang on my printing command the started to "not responding". After spending a couple of hours I had to give up on my nicely arranged table schema and move on.
After some research I discovered DBDesigner.
Besides other nice features it also has the reverse engineering feature. And most importantly, it works from top to bottom. After some work I have my table schema printed out and stick to the wall now.
Both tools can be downloaded as zip file and extracted directly to your hard drive without an "installation" process. And both tools offer a lot of nice features and what I was doing was just scratching the surface. Since MySQLWorkbench is still an alpha product I can't complain too much. And hat off to DBDesigner, it really makes my work easier.