Generate documentation and pictures
In the previous tutorial, we reviewed how to export or forward-engineer artifacts from your data model. By the end of this tutorial, you will have learned how to generate documentation and pictures for your data model.
Arguably, documentation and pictures of diagrams are also artifacts. The difference is that forward-engineered artifacts are generally "consumable" by machines, whereas documentation and pictures are clearly for humans. Admittedly, the nuance is subtle and non-exclusive, and the separation in the menu is historical...
Documentation for your data models can be generated in 3 formats: HTML, Markdown, and PDF. Their content is identical, but the structure differs:
- HTML documentation is packaged in a single file encapsulating all content. This way, it can be easily moved around, emailed, or posted on on corporate portal. It can also be read via scripts and joined with an integration of the raw data model file (as saved on disk) to feed a homegrown data dictionary.
- Markdown documentation is particularly handy if you plan to post it on GitHub or other repository operators. While the main markdown file is unique per documentation generation, a major difference with HTML and PDF, is that pictures are extracted and placed in a subdirectory bearing the same name as the documentation file. Note also, that it is easy to render Markdown documentation with custom web site generators.
- PDF documentation is also a single file, but with less flexibility and navigation capabilities than the HTML file.
Documentation can quickly grow to a very large size, so it is recommended to use the following controls to adjust it to your needs:
Parameters are maintained in Tools > Options > Documentation to select the segments and behavior. .
Each time you generate documentation for a data model, you will be prompted to select the the objects of the data models that you wish to be included:
You may deselect groups of objects or individual objects.
You may want to generate PNG or PDF files for your Entity-Relationship Diagrams or hierarchical schema views. There are many choices for configuration:
- type of diagram: the entire mdeol ERD, separate ER diagram views, individual entities, or read-only views if any;
- paper size: either A paper (A0 through A4) or US (letter, tabloid, or ledger)
- layout: portrait or landscape
- pages: if the picture spans multiple pages, you may select the page numbers to be included in the output
- header and footer: you may add text to appear at the top and bottom of the diagrams
- zoom in or out: using these buttons affects the number of pages
- fit to page: the output will be automatically zoomed in or out to fit on a single page of the selected size and layout
- business or technical names: if naming conventions are enabled
In this tutorial, we reviewed how to generate documentation and pictures for your data model. In the next tutorial, we will cover how to master data models for property graph databases.