April 16, 2014

A First Look at OpenOffice.org 2.0 - page 3

Moving Ahead

  • March 1, 2005
  • By Rob Reilly

The big news for me in OpenOffice.org 2.0 was the addition of Base, a Microsoft Access-like database application, and the redesign of the tool bar.

Some of my other favorite updates include:

  • Word count in selections
  • Nested tables in Writer
  • New file format for OASIS XML (OpenDocument text - .odt, .ods)

Many other enhancements have been added and I'm sad that I can't cover them all. As a heads up, you might take a look at the Asian language, MS compatibility, and developer enhancements.

For your feature investigating pleasure, a rather comprehensive guide can be found at on the OOo Marketing page.

To start, let's look at Base in a little more detail.

Many purists will grumble about putting something like Base into the office suite, instead recommending a LAMP- or SQL-oriented solution, but I think it's a good thing. It represents another option to the normal business/consumer user that can help them do their jobs. It's especially true for all the Microsoft converts that have long requested such a program.

Using Base was pretty straightforward. I simply opened a new database under the File tab.

Next I used the "Create New Database Wizard" (see Figure 1) to build a new table. OpenOffice.org has a number of canned sets of fields that you can use to build a new database. I chose to use the business contact set, which included fields like name, address, phone number, email, etc. I picked out eight or ten from the selection list and clicked them into the table. I stepped through the wizard and ended up with a new database with the fields I selected. The field types and some default lengths were even filled in. Slick.

After getting the table set up I used the table view to insert some ficticious data in each field. I did a few rows just for fun. (see Figure 2)

Lastly, I used the Form Wizard to build a quick form. I selected the database I wanted to use, then picked out the fields. A few more steps like picking out the form style and there it was. (see Figure 3)

Navigation of the completed form was like the old Access forms I used to create five or six years ago. The database controls, like next record, delete record, sort, and filter buttons were all there and worked as you'd expect. Easy and simple.

If you've ever used Access before, building new tables, forms and queries will be familiar and intuitive.

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