Since I want to use the Unified Modeling Language (UML) for the major database design I am involved with professionally I looked around for more information on this, and tools I can use. In the past I used ER diagrams, and my own design, the latter very similar to UML, but mostly on paper.
I already own an official version of Visio 2000. But since the previous version was very unstable, and I prefer to use more Open Source professionally, I looked around for some free and/or Open Source solutions.
So I found, and downloaded ArgoUML. Written in Java, and since I already had Java installed, no problem to me. I had already found a good tutorial on database design using UML on line, so I tried to copy an example with ArgoUML. Sadly this turned out to be a very frustrating exercise, and in the end I gave up.
Second candidate: Dia (for Windows). This gave a better first impression compared to ArgoUML, but the user interface looks extremely outdated. I also couldn't find how to change simple things like line width. And after some time I was wondering: would a general drawing program not better suit my needs? Also since the drawing of UML diagrams is not that complicated. And I don't need a code generating step. For me coding and design are two things. Also the tutorial I found uses relational model schemes, which are not UML (as far as I know). And like in the tutorial, I want to use both UML and relation schemes.
Since I hadn't installed Corel Xara (yes, outdated version) yet on my new computer, I decided to give the Draw program that comes with OpenOffice.org a try. And maybe it's just me, since I like tools that are not too specialized, or maybe OOo Draw just works better, but I was able to draw what I wanted in a very short time.
The tutorial I am going to use to learn more about database design using UML and relation schemes can be read on line. It looks very well written, with many examples. On the down side, since it uses vector graphics for drawings a plug in is required. Somehow I couldn't install this plug in with Firefox, and I later read that the version I downloaded doesn't work with Firefox (it may cause your browser to hang or crash), so I am going to use Internet Explorer to read the tutorial. The good news is that Firefox is going to support Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) natively in version 1.5.