I am not a DBA, but an end user that mashes together data from various databases within my company to generate insights.

When I first encounter a new (to me) database, I spend time scrolling through the tables/views/columns in SSMS or Power Query to understand what data is in the database, and how it is structured. This is a manual process, and I may overlook key tables when scrolling through a long list.

Is there an easy tool that can scan a database and visually represent the database structure? I believe older versions of Visio could reverse engineer a database and generate a database model/entity relationship diagram, but the current version does not. If it matters, the databases in question are all MSSQL

  • 2
    If you're interested in spending some fairly serious money, SAP Power Designer has a very powerful interface that is designed for, among other things, reverse engineering various flavors of databases, including SQL Server.
    – Hannah Vernon
    Mar 3, 2016 at 2:06

1 Answer 1


In SSMS you can easily create diagrams showing the relationships between tables. The basic steps are:

  1. Connect to the database server
  2. Expand the Databases folder
  3. Expand the folder for the database you're investigating.
  4. Right click on the Database Diagrams folder.

    a. Select Install Diagram Support if needed

  5. Select New Database Diagram
  6. In the wizard add any tables you're interested in.
  7. Take the appropriate next step:

    a. Curse the previous DBA/Developer that generated this mess.

    b. Thank your deity of choice for the blessing of a well structured/modeled database.

    c. Shrug your shoulders and tell yourself this is manageable.

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