Prior to ArcGIS 10.0, the tool of choice for geodatabase design was Microsoft Visio. But with the drop of support for the DLL, this is no more a valid option, since UML diagrams cannot be translated into ArcGIS geodatabase anymore. Although, tools such as ArcGIS Diagrammer (for 10.2 and below) and X-Ray for ArcCatalog provide useful functionalities; they don’t offer a viable solution when dealing with IT industry, which demand computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tool.
Comes Enterprise Architect (EA) by Sparx System to the rescue! This software offer modeling, visualization and design platform based on the UML 2.4.1 standard, at a significantly better price tag then Microsoft Visio. It has proven remarkably popular across a wide range of industries in modeling and managing complex information. It is often used for software development and IT system design and deployment, but also to business analysis and business process modeling. More important, it includes an extension for ArcGIS. This extension has been available since EA 9.3 and has been actively maintained by Sparx System ever since.
One of the best features of EA is complete traceability, which allows tying dependencies between elements. For example, with EA I can have my business requirements linked to geodatabase’s objects, such as feature classes and domain coded value. This facilitates the justification of decisions made during the geodatabase design when reviewing the schema with stakeholders.
For a video tutorial about modeling ArcGIS geodatabase using Enterprise Architect, visit:
UPDATE 2016-09-13: ArcGIS Help for 10.3 provides A note about the use of UML for geodatabase design