[kwlug-disc] What's the simple next level beyond OpenOffice Base?

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Fri Nov 26 15:40:02 EST 2010


I have some users migrating from paper based contact and scheduling 
activities to computer based. OpenOffice calc for the most part 
suffices, especially as they work through their admin processes and 
establish what's what. e.g. They are prototyping at this point, so not 
infrequently add columns to the spreadsheet(s).

As a result of working in a spreadsheet, they are running into data 
integrity and consistency problems. So it's time to move parts of the 
information into a database. While not losing the spreadsheet ability 
to move things all around as they establish what's useful.

I have been playing with OpenOffice Base and found it insufficient.

As one oo forum poster pointed out - Base exists as a mechanism for 
individual users to pull other database information they might have 
into calc, for use there. It does not create an app, uses writer as 
its form interface, and is not multiuser.

Things like MS Access, FoxPro, dBase, and so on, provided a similar 
database browse / update facility, much like a spreadsheet. (As does 
Base.) However, they were also able to go further into complete 
applications, can be multi-user, provided an IDE, and facilitated 
maintenance tasks. (For my purpose here, ignore that they are also 
usually tied to specific back ends.)

The advantage of OpenOffice is that it's FOSS, universal, 
cross-platform. I can hand a file(s) off to anyone, anywhere, any 
time, and they can be productive.

What's the next step, app wise, with similar universality? Base is 
insufficient, yet I have no interest in a fully programmed environment 
where the users cannot just pop into a spreadsheet like interface and 
get on with their day for the moment.

It feels like I'm looking for an Access like front end, probably to 
talk to a local MySQL (SQLlite?) back end, but nothing occurs to me as 
being an obvious choice, and having the same universality as 
OpenOffice. [Most users are Windows based, but I don't want to be 
constrained to windows, as OpenOffice is not. Google Docs doesn't do 
it - no database functionality, and loses functionality such as data 
validation in the file transfer.]

Suggestions as to what I might investigate?

(There is no server here, just the local machine - nor is there likely 
any chance of there being one any time soon. Free/FOSS web site 
suggestions, 'a la GoogleDocs', would be welcome - that multiple 
disparate internet connected users could work against simultaneously.)



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