Importing a Data Dictionary from an ER or Studio File

Version V R3 (5.6.x) and above

It is possible to upload the data dictionary from an ER/Studio source file. You can generate the ER/Studio file with any data modeling software you may be using that generates the .dm1  format. Note that this type of source file can be used to only upload the titles and descriptions for the data objects, but not any other custom field values.

ER/Studio Source File Requirements

When parsing the ER/Studio source file, Alation will identify the data objects that need to be updated and will import the titles and descriptions for these data objects. To parse successfully, Alation needs several sections to be present in the source file. Make sure your source file includes sections:

  • Model

  • Entity

  • Database_Role

  • Attribute

  • SmallString

  • LargeString

Sometimes the .dm1-generating software does not create the section Database_Role. In such a case, you can manually add this section to the file and provide the following data:



Importing a Data Dictionary from an ER/Studio File

Importing a Data Dictionary from an ER/Studio file works differently from the dictionary upload from CSV/TSV. Using ER/Studio file as a source, you can upload new physical metadata in addition to titles and descriptions.

To import a data dictionary from a ER/Studio file,

  1. Sign in to Alation and open the catalog page of a data source.

  2. In the upper-right corner, click More then click Upload Dictionary. The Import Data Dictionary page will open.

  3. From the Type of File list, select the type of your source file: ER/Studio File.

  4. Drag and drop your source file onto the Drag-and-Drop area or click this area to upload the file. After the upload is complete, the import verification page will open.

Import a Data Dictionary from ER/Studio File:

  1. From Select a model to import list, select the model you want to upload:

    • Logical select this option if you are only loading titles and descriptions for existing data objects

    • Physical select this option if you want to upload titles, descriptions, and additional  physical metadata

    Data Dictionary Import:

  2. You can upload titles and descriptions one schema at a time. Provide the name of the schema you are uploading the titles and descriptions for - or leave the pre-filled schema if it is the one you want to update, and click Import. The source file data will be parsed, imported and displayed in a preview. The errors, if any occur, will be reflected in the Error column of the preview.

    Sample ER/Studio Preview:

  3. When validation succeeds, form the Current values list, select the option of how you want to treat the field values that currently exist in the catalog.

    • Will be kept i f this option is selected, only the new values for empty fields will be uploaded from the data dictionary. This option gives precedence to values that currently exist in the catalog over the values for these fields contained in the imported data dictionary. In other words, this option loads the new values for previously empty fields, and does not change the values that already exist in the catalog

    • Will be replaced - if this option is selected, the values in the imported dictionary will overwrite the values that currently exist in the catalog. This option uploads both the new values for empty fields and updates the existing values with values from the dictionary.


    There are a few things to pay attention to in the data preview of the imported dictionary:

    • The currently existing values - if they exist for a field - appear on top of the imported dictionary values.

    • The preview shows what is going to be uploaded vs. what is going to be ignored:

      • The “active” values that are going to be uploaded appear in darker font color.

      • The “disabled” values that are going to be ignored or overwritten appear in gray font color. If you switch between the upload options, the font color will be switching between “active” and “disabled” values.

    Current vs. New Values from ER Source File:

  4. Click Confirm. The data dictionary will be uploaded to the data source.