I'm a grad student at a research lab and spend a lot of time doing work analyses
- a functional analysis that usually ends up creating a lot of Visio diagrams. I'm getting tired of futzing with drawing packages, and want to reduce labor, organize large analyses, support students in learning the theory, and export pretty-looking diagrams for tabletop discussion and publication.
Our work analysis has a reasonably well defined structure that I'm sure could be set up in a database. Elements are related to each other by both nested one-to-many mappings and many-to-many mappings (that Visio can't handle). It's like UML's Entity Relationship diagrams, but with enough relations that one diagram can't show them all at once.
A few colleagues have tried making specialized support tools, but the market is too small to make money and the code base has rusted away (think Visual Basic and Mac OS 9). I'd like to get around this by using an off-the-shelf database front-end tool and only program as much as needed to make an easy-to-use interface.
The catch is that the user interface has to be usable for modeling - which is a mix of data entry, report generation, confusion, and frequent editing.
Any suggestions? Bonus points for inexpensive (or good academic discounts), reasonably standards-compatible (for long-term maintenance) and easy export to diagrams
(for pen-and-paper work or publication)