Drawing E-R Diagrams with Crow’s Foot Notation using Microsoft Visio
What You’ll Learn
This section of notes covers how to draw Entity Relationship Diagrams with Crow’s Foot Notation using Microsoft Visio 2010.
While there are many purpose-built tools (such as CASE tools) that can be used to draw E-R diagrams, many people prefer to draw E-R models using Microsoft Visio.
Specific topics for this tutorial include:
- Obtaining Microsoft Visio
- Running Microsoft Visio
- Starting a new Visio UML Diagram
- Visio Interface Basics
- Adding an Entity to the Diagram
- Setting Attributes on a new Entity
- Adding additional Entities
- Specifying Relationships between two Entities
- Setting Relationship Properties
- Adding additional Relationships
- Adding a Legend
- Saving Visio Diagrams in different file formats
Obtaining Microsoft Visio
This tutorial focuses on using the 2010 version of Microsoft Visio. Older versions may have similar features. It also looks as if these same instructions will work with the upcoming 2013 version of Visio.
Microsoft offers Visio as part of the MS Office family of software programs. Visio is usually sold separately from MS Office however. The official web site for Visio is: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/visio/.
In addition to purchasing a copy of Visio from a software retailer, students may also be able to obtain Visio through the Microsoft Developers Network Academic Alliance program (MSDN AA). The MSDN AA also goes under the name “DreamSpark”. Basically a College, University, or other organization such as the IEEE Computer Society or Association for Computing Machinery, can obtain a site license for MSDN AA. Registered students (or Organization Members) can then download trial copies of Microsoft software (including Visio, SQL Server, Access and others).
As far as I can tell, Visio will only run under the Windows operating system. For this tutorial I used Visio 2010 running on Windows XP.
Running Microsoft Visio
If Visio 2010 is installed on a Windows PC that also has Office 2010 installed, then the links to the Visio software will appear within the Microsoft Office 2010 group under the Programs menu.
To start Microsoft Visio 2010, click on the Start button, then select All Programs and look for the Microsoft Office group. Then click on the Microsoft Visio 2010 shortcut as shown below.
Once Visio starts, it will display some Template Categories as shown in the figure below.
Starting a new Visio Diagram
Once Visio is running, a new diagram can be started by pulling down the File menu from the ribbon bar and highlighting the New menu item.
When Visio first starts up, it does this automatically for you.
For this tutorial a data model will be created using UML notation. Under the Template Categories, locate the Software and Databases selection and click on it as shown below.
A number of sub-categories of model templates will appear. Select the Database Model Diagram template as shown below.
A new blank diagram will be created.