Altova DatabaseSpy makes DBs user-friendly
Boasting some impressive features, easy-to-use query tool is a boon for non-DBAs
I tested the export functions on a number of files with different configurations, and the wizard proved extremely quick and easy to use. The import was excellent as well: easy to use, and it performed far better than I would have hoped.
DatabaseSpy also has a nice graphical interface for designing tables. It's not exactly a modeling application, because it doesn't have any logical and physical modeling capabilities. To get quick diagrams of your schema, just drag items from your tree view onto the design surface, and the application automatically keeps up with relationships as dependent tables are added to the diagram. It's clearly made to work with large models because it comes with a nice magnifier, such as that found in Embarcadero's ER/Studio enterprise modeling tool.
DatabaseSpy also can boast is its capability of querying tables directly from the design surface. This makes it more of a live-action schema designer, which can actually be a little scary in that it makes changing to live schemas far too easy. Although you can't push those changes directly to the database from the model designer, you can create a change script and run it manually, directly in DatabaseSpy.
Although I couldn't find any errors in the generated code itself, it comes out as a horrendous, unformatted, continuous stream of text that can be very hard to read. The same goes for the HTML generated by the export wizard. It's just plain HTML, and there's no way to alter it before the page is created, so I'm not sure of the usefulness of it at this point. You can alter it any way you like after the file is created, though, and a simple CSS should take care of pretty much any formatting you need.
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Despite its lack of admin-oriented features, Altova DatabaseSpy 2007 is an impressive offering, and priced reasonably compared with its competition. Its true power currently resides is in its ease of use for end-users and its import/export functionality. Bear in mind that this is only the first release, so keep your eye on this tool: It's going places -- although the company may still be trying to shake out exactly who its target audience is.
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