Okay, I have a very complex database project I would like to start, and I found I can't exactly just create the tables and run with it like other projects I have accomplished. In my college days, we used PowerBuilder for these types of things; and while I didn't like or understand it's use at the time, I knew it was widely used. Today I have looked around for a tool like this and found precious few choices that are reasonably priced (<$500 US) for individual use. What to the designers here use?
Ideally, I would like free w/ connectivity to SQL Server 2008 Express database, but I think that is something of a pipe dream. I have found a few FOSS designers, but considering my limited knowledge on these types of software, I need to be certain that it is well documented - a serious issue with ALL FOSS software I have seen. Also, all FOSS software I have seen limit their connections to MySQL or Postgrl, whereas I would like to see connections to SQLServer and/or Oracle (without too many hoops). I would think that a simple ODBC type connection should allow these connections, but they do not seem supported from what I have read (note this does not imply it is impossible).
Short of the ideal, I have access to SQL Server 2008 (std & express editions), Oracle (10g personal), Access, OoBase, and any FOSS databases that I can download and install. All I am looking for is cheap or free design software to connect to any one of these databases that will allow me to visually design and change the database without having to rebuild it. I have attempted using the OoBase for this project twice already, and both times it has blown up and forced me to rebuild it from scratch. I am not willing to do that anymore.
Any suggestions? Answers? Experiences that would help?