Are there any tools for schema visualization of an existing MS SQL Server database? In particular, I'd like something that reads the tables, fields, and constraints automatically, and that allows for reasonably easy layout of the tables as well as designation of key relationships that it can't surmise from the database automatically.

The built-in SSMS "Database Diagrams" "feature" is barely better than transcribing the schema by hand.

Following this question I tried DbVisualizer but couldn't even get it to connect. WWW SQL Designer looks great but does not appear to support SQL Server.

2 Answers 2


SAP PowerDesigner does the job but it's superexpensive (I think ~5000+ EUR per seat). The feature is called "reverse engineering a database". You just point it to a database (not just SQL Server but pretty much any major RDBMS) and it creates a much more powerful diagram than you get in SQL Server's built in feature. It can do a LOT more than just aiding with db engineering.

Search for "PowerDesigner reverse engineer database" on YouTube and you'll see it in action, even for SQL Server. Search just for "reverse engineer database" and you'll get hits for many other similar tools.

What you require is a pretty standard feature of any serious commercial CASE tool. Unfortunately, all are superexpensive as they're targeted at highly-paid engineers/architects in large enterprises. I haven't heard of any free CASE tool that is anywhere close to the commercial variants.


SchemaCrawler is a free, open-source database discovery tool that can reverse engineer your existing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database. Take a look at examples of the SchemaCrawler Database Diagrams.

Sualeh Fatehi, SchemaCrawler

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