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

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Sat Nov 27 02:01:33 EST 2010

rbclemen at gmail.com wrote, On 11/26/2010 4:22 PM:
> Openoffice functionality is extendable using Java. You can code
> whatever data integrity and interface requirements you have. I have
> never done it. But I was looking to try it soonish

My tests have shown that calc's data connection facilities are just
simply broken. e.g. I created a data 'view' in calc using formulae and
filters. Formulae would be of the form =sheet1.column1,
=sheet1.column4, etc., and in sheet 1 applied a filter to show 4
categories of information. For an alternative approach, I then linked
the spreadsheet within base and tried to duplicate that view via
query. By no hook, crook, or means, could I make the view match the
view built directly within calc itself. e.g. One column is completely
blank - for no apparent reason. And entire rows are missing.

	And along the way, repeatedly ran into sql errors. [Through trial and 
error I chewed through those, but there is no possible way users ever 
would.] Even better, having run into the error, using the back button 
within the query wizard, correcting the error and moving forward 
again, it would not let me run the query. [Assumption: bug in Base not 
clearing an error flag upon hitting the back button, to let the query 
be attempted again.] When it was all done, I then copied the query 
into a new direct SQL query, and still couldn't duplicate the correct 
results gained within calc directly. Other times, a direct SQL query 
would error. Wait a second, submit it again, and it would work. There 
is something broken in the base interface.

OpenOffice .odb files are zipped hsqldb files. To access the database
via hsqldb directly, rather than through OpenOffice, you have to
maintain a separate unzipped copy of the database files. So, every
time an openoffice user updated a spreadsheet or a database, you must
then unzip the files, for any non-openoffice app to be able to use the
database. This doesn't feel like a viable process solution.

That's not to say that your java exercise won't be effective, having
OpenOffice use mysql or some other non-native back end, but then we're
essentially back to the question in my original post. i.e. OpenOffice
might not be bringing anything to the party for you in this
configuration, that you can't get more effectively and efficiently
using a more direct tool. e.g. More 'native' front-end for MySQL. 
[And, if base is broken, leveraging a java piece into the mix is still 
leaving you in a broken environment.]

Not that you've said this, but nothing in my original post precluded a
java solution. If you were considering java, are you saying you know
of a java-based MS Access like IDE / front end tool?

> -----Original Message----- From: unsolicited <unsolicited at swiz.ca> 
> Sender: kwlug-disc-bounces at kwlug.org Date: Fri, 26 Nov 2010
> 15:40:02 To: Kwlug-Disc<kwlug-disc at kwlug.org> Reply-To: KWLUG
> discussion <kwlug-disc at kwlug.org> Subject: [kwlug-disc] What's the
> simple next level beyond OpenOffice Base?
> 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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