DbSchema, THE Visual Database Tool

UPDATE: By now, if you have been reading much of what I write, you most likely have picked up that I put a lot of stock into the Customer Service that I receive from a company, I mean that speaks volumes as to the core of that company as far as I am concerned. I also strive to deliver the utmost in customer service as I go about my day to day travels, so maybe that is why it means so much to me when I am a customer. That being said, when I purchased this piece of software and received my registration information (Name and Key) to unlock it, something was amiss. I believe it was generated and mailed from an automated system, and I don’t know what went wrong, but something did and it didn’t work when I tried to register my software purchase. I emailed tech support and explained the situation, even including relevant details from my purchase receipt. I was hoping for a quick response, but I didn’t expect a reply within mere minutes, and not just some automated “Yeah, we gotcha” message, but a fix for the problem that worked. Oh yeah, that’s good customer service. Maybe I just got lucky this time, maybe not, I prefer to think of it as someone who shares my same vision and passion for kickass customer support! I was so impressed, I had to update my review, and share the good experience. Thanks.

Great stuff ahead! I came across something that I have to share with everyone.  This is a Cool Tool pick from all of us here at Solarum, and it’s a top notch pick if I say so myself.  Let me start by saying that I love databases!  I love to build ’em, tune ’em, tinker with ’em, you name it.  Heck, sometimes I create databases just for fun, even if I don’t need one that instant for an app I am working on.  Speaking of creating and using databases, I do a lot of web development and therefore I use a lot of databases to get done what I want to get done.

About now, you are probably asking yourself why in the world is this crazy nut telling me about his database fetish?  Well, I am glad you asked!  For years now I have been on the lookout for a really good design tool that would let me graphically draw, create, brainstorm, edit … well, whatever the heck I want to do with databases.  Being a visual person, the graphical part of this desire was pretty important to me.  It was also what seemed to be the hardest to find, a good graphical tool.  I tried MySQL workbench, Visio and DBDesigner to name a few, but none of them really stood up to even basic requirements either functionally or visually.  It seems that I could find one or the other, but not both.  Maybe I am just too picky.  Or at least that is what I thought until I ran across this awesome little tool called DbSchema.  Oh yeah!

Not only does this tool perform great for many database operations (reverse engineer a database, design a database, sync project to database, generate SQL files, grouping and more), but I have to tell you that this tool is a work of art, I mean it’s beautiful.  So when you combine beauty, form and function, you get a very nice tool that actually makes me want to work.  Well, maybe … 🙂

You can even download a free version of the tool at http://www.dbschema.com/download.html, so go check it out.

*Note: No compensation or consideration of any kind was received by Solarum for this post/review.

Website Design Tips or Things Not To Do

Ok folks, I have decided to toss out some general tips for those of you who consider yourselves website designers. I have been seeing lots of poorly designed sites out there, and it has frustrated me enough that I have to mention a few of the top offenses. Read this and take heed, you might think you are cool and a super leet rumpshakin pimp webmaster dude but, you’re not. Follow me:

  • Keep your audience in mind. Don’t forget that you are writing a website for a wide variety of users, not a small minority. Sites that don’t render in anything but IE and have the little button “Best Viewed in Internet Exporer” drive me insane, and in fact I won’t do business with sites like that. Most of what I am going to talk about in this post centers around this main issue.
  • DON’T BASE THE WHOLE SITE ON JAVA-FREAKIN-SCRIPT! Did I make myself clear? I can’t tell you how many sites I have found that not only don’t have any navigation links without Javascript enabled, but won’t render at all without it. Here’s a clue, if I just described your website, you are a moron. Javascript is great, but it’s also dependent on the browser again which means you can’t rely on it for critical things like navigation (if that’s the only navigation), rendering the site in the first place, form input validation (duh!), etc. Anyone who uses it for form input validation is crazy, you don’t trust that to something that can be manipulated on the client side … HELLOOO?!
  • DON’T BASE THE WHOLE SITE ON FLASH! Did I stutter? Not only does it take way too long to load, especially for people on dial-up (yes, people are still using dial-up, in fact, the majority of web surfers still do), but we run into that whole client side thing again. Don’t alienate people because they don’t have the right plugin, I don’t care how widespread you think it is. I know, you are thinking that it’s only 5 or 10 percent of the visitors, but why throw away that many opportunities? Come on man, get with it.
  • Don’t over do it with the gadgets. Yes, fly up pop out whirl around shout at you menus are cute, but they detract from the whole purpose of your site, to convey whatever information you have to the visitor. Now, if you have no content maybe you should have all that stuff.
  • The same goes for too many graphics. Load that page up with too many pics and you are back to having it take too long to load and people getting fed up and moving on. From the research that I have read, you have about four seconds to get the page loaded and grab a visitors attention before you have lost them. Think about how fast you yourself move on when surfing. Uh huh, see?

I think that’s enough for now, it’s a good start anyway. At the very least you should get an idea of where I am going. Keep your sites clean, simple and easy to navigate. Great designs are fine and well, great even, but do it right!