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Visio as GUI for Authoring Tool

Started by Yacine, March 23, 2023, 02:51:33 PM

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You will recall that I spoke about writing documentations and functional specifications.
As I'm quite familiar with Access, I wrote of course my editing tool with it.
... and it fine, but meah, not really perfect.

The thing is that the requirements are somewhat complex.
1. I write descriptions for different audiences. My client, the mechanical engineers, the electricians, the programmers, the commissioners and so on. Each description focusing on different aspects of the same thing.
2. The descriptions need a revisioning system. Review by a colleague from the right "audience" department, comments, and corrections and finally a release system. The descriptions can also change when the described things are "re-engineered".
3. And as it is not complex enough yet, I do not only describe single projects, but try to make the descriptions re-usable by collecting and organizing them a tree like structure. And even this tree is not flexible enough, because I try to describe every function of every machine in our portfolio, but many functions may be the same for several different machines.

Modelling such a system in relational database is certainly feasible, but - and this is a very big problem - I can't predict which and how many properties (columns) I will need as the system evolves. More or less audiences, formatting and printing options, machine categories and whatever.

So I thought, maybe it is time to switch to a graph database. That is a database where data items are linked freely by means of links/properties/vertices. So, you don't need to force your data in a predefined structure. Then there are querying languages that help extract and present the data when needed.

Ideally I would have a text editor where I could:
- Collapse and expand text ranges
- Define titles like in Markdown with hashtags
- not mandatory but fine would be formatting
- inserting images and tables

- but also define the target audience and display different target versions side-by-side.
- finally the editing must be fast and fluid.

I googled a lit bit, but did not find what I was looking for.

And now the idea - why I am writing this here. Why not use Visio as graphical interface to a graph DB?
I would draw rectangles and write in them. That would be the data items.
Prop fields could hold properties of an item.
Connectors could be used to link items and their texts would be the property link.
Arrows could define directions "father of", "related", "contains", "has color", etc.

The drawing would be temporary. A macro would parse the drawing and push it in the DB - optionally deleting the shapes in Visio.
In the reverse operation the DB would draw in Visio.

Downside of the solution - It is difficult to distribute, because Visio is needed, regular people might struggle with Visio, a lot of functions would need to be blocked in Visio.

What do you think about?
Or would someone happen to know an already existing tool?





Great idea Yacine, and Visio desktop has unparalleled flexibility to develop something like this. Much more attractive to develop software in such a visual way.
Visio 2021 Professional

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