I recently ran across the following post on the SQL Server newsgroups: "Are you using a data-modeling tool now? Have you used a data-modeling tool in the past? Do you have ideas, suggestions, or wishes for a new data-modeling solution? If your answer is yes, then we need your help." The post came from the SQL Server and Visual Studio teams, which need your help gathering data-modeling scenarios and customer requirements. The post points to a 40-question survey that attempts to understand the role you play, the amount of time you spend doing data modeling, and other ways you might end up using an existing or new tool.

I've taken the survey, and you should, too. I don't know a single SQL Server professional with data-modeling responsibilities of any kind who hasn't bemoaned Microsoft's lack of a decent data-modeling tool. The fact that someone on the SQL Server team signed the message is a good sign that Microsoft might finally be serious about providing a data-modeling solution for SQL Server professionals. I always thought it was odd that the SQL Server team had little to do with the design of Microsoft's data-modeling offerings. But let's not dwell in the past—let's hope for a brighter future!

So, SQL Server data modelers of the world, arise, and take the survey at http://www.supersurvey.com/survey-bin/surveys/s18559.pl . If you've ever whined about Microsoft's lack of a quality data-modeling tool and dreamed of a better solution, share your ideas and needs and do something about it! We owe it to ourselves to help Microsoft build a data-modeling tool that's easy for everyone to use. And after you take the survey, email me what you think are the most important design goals Microsoft should address in a data-modeling tool. I'll share the best ideas and my own thoughts about what we need in a data-modeling tool in an upcoming column.