According to a blog post by Carl Cookson, the ERD Visio Builder is a tool specifically created for Microsoft Dynamics' users who wish to seamlessly draw out and document their entities' relations. The software, although part of the XrmToolBox suite, takes a step further and incorporates an output directly linked with Visio - a diagramming solution offered by Microsoft.
The XrmToolBox project leverages Saveen Reddy's ingenious code, which mechanizes the creation of diagrams with Visio, a significant addition to the Unified Modelling Language (UML) Diagram Generator. It is important to note that the term merger, in this context, represents Jonas Rappen's exceptional work that has been topped up with Cookson’s contribution, therefore leading to an enriched tool.
The author created the tool to enable users to document their entities and relationships in the Common Data Service and, as a result, produce Microsoft Visio documents. Users can more effectively understand, design, and document "Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERD)" thanks to the newly added containers that help to distinguish various tables.
Receiving a long-awaited, significant update after 18 months, the software introduced two new features—for a more precise and efficient design process of users' applications—upon the request of Dani Kahil. In order to accommodate these changes, the author's code was updated to match the way the Flow to Visio – XrmToolBox Addon operates and integrates the new Visio XML document format.
The Containers tab, now featured at the top of the application, allows users to establish a name and colour for their containers (hex colour codes are only allowed currently). The selected tables can now be added to a container, leading to a more organized diagram when creating the Visio document.
In response to feedback received from the community, past updates to the tool have seen additions such as Columns to the output and a more intuitive interface. Functions such as Save Config/Export and Import are now documented, a walkthrough has been crafted, and icons, Select All checkbox, and a search bar have been added amongst other features as the tool has evolved.
Many-To-Many relationships are now available, and Custom Properties have been added to enable users to document their relationships more accurately.
The application, although seemingly minimalistic, is built to function effectively. Users can choose entities, document their relationships, and more. The toolbar also allows users to exclude entities with default associations for a cleaner work experience.
Immediate plans include improving the interface further and generating diagrams more in line with UML conventions. Users are encouraged to share their suggestions and report bugs as with the previous version.
Learn more about ERD Visio Builder and its capabilities here.Read the full article ERD Visio Builder – XrmToolBox Addon
The ERD Visio Builder is a tool in the XrmToolBox suite designed to aid in creating Visio diagrams that visually represent and document the entities and relationships in Microsoft Dynamics. It aims to simplify the process, making it easier than you creating the diagrams manually. Although there are other entity visualizers in the suite, none provide an output in Microsoft's Visio document format. The tool was made possible with the assistance of Saveen Reddy, who provided the code to automate the diagram creation process.
An essential part of the tool is its ability for users to document their entities and relationships within the Common Data Service, resulting in Visio diagram outputs. This aids in understanding and presenting the complex data relationships better. The tool has seen several update cycles, with the most recent on the 2nd of September 2023.
Among the features introduced in this update are two new additions prompted by Dani Kahil, who wrote an excellent article on using this tool to improve the requirements & design process of your app. One of the primary changes was updating the code to handle new Visio XML document format, similar to how Flow to Visio works. The update also brought an interface allowing users to create areas (or containers) around their tables on their ERD, making it easier to read and understand.
Creating a container is straightforward. In the app, there is a Containers tab where you can establish a name and a color for your container. Once that's done, the container can be selected in the list of tables added. When the Visio document gets generated, the containers appear with the selected tables inside them.
The tool has undergone numerous other updates over the years, adding features like separate buttons for entity selection, search functionality, and a ‘Select All’ toggle. Another significant addition was the inclusion of 'Many-To-Many' relationships and customizable properties to document relationships. Additional features like App Insights provide information like the number of diagrams created and the number of entities documented.
The application prioritizes functionality over looks. To get started, you need to load the entities you wish to include in the ERD. From then on, the tool offers numerous options to customize the ERD to your preference, including choosing the relationships you want to document. When you are satisfied with your configuration, you can save it with a unique name or export it as an XML file for use elsewhere.
The next updates will focus on improving the interface, adding more details to the code generated properties and improving how Many-To-Many relationships are displayed. Users will also be allowed to select all attributes and generate them, similar to Jonas's UML versions.
Moreover, feedback is highly appreciated, especially about any bugs, and is taken into consideration for future updates. Contributions from the community are also welcome, and they can create an issue on the GitHub page or pull the code to help make improvements.
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