I'm writing a special-purpose CMS. It focuses on brief, rich text content as nodes in a large network of densely interrelated information. There are many different kinds of relationships, like "requires," "suggests," "motivates," "uses," and so on.
I'm designing the UI for specifying these relationships. Users can create and delete relationships from the Create and Edit screens for nodes. Presently, I have something like this:
It's hidden by the auto-complete dropdown, but there is a plus button which lets the user add another row.
The problem, I feel, is that things would quickly grow out of hand when a node related to more than a handful of other nodes. Multiply the interface below by a factor of about 8-15 for the other kinds of relations, and you see my fear: A screen full of text boxes! Ugh.
I've contemplated a sort of "tagging" text box, like the one Stack Exchange sites use to let users tag their questions, but I don't think that will work because node titles will be awfully long, compared to tag names. That about exhausts my inspiration though, aside from textareas that take one title per line, and those are definitely out.
Here's a quick recap of my situation:
Users need to specify lists of related nodes by their titles, which can be lengthy (20-80 characters, usually). The users will know what nodes they want in advance, so they don't need help discovering nodes. There's more than one kind of relation, and users will want to deal with each kind one at a time. Not every relation is guaranteed to be used, and the number of related nodes can vary drastically.
Thanks for your suggestions!