April 23, 2019

StarOffice 8: Office Killer? - page 8

Alternatives to Microsoft Office

  • March 6, 2006
  • By Martin C. Brown

I've always thought of a database application within Office suite as an odd inclusion. Not that I don't appreciate the functionality, but I find very few users willing to put in the time required to develop an effective database application. Most either turn to a spreadsheet (which they feel more familiar with) or ask a developer to produce a custom solution.

I could see this change with StarOffice Base. Key among the new functionality is a new database wizard system that simplifies the development of a database application into a few simple, but well scripted, clicks and choices. The wizards take you through every step of the process and even offer suggestions based on common database types such as assets, customers and employees. You can even produce entry and report forms in the same wizards and more or less create the entire application within the wizard environment.

Even better, the same wizards--and Base in general--can be used to connect to an existing database with built-in connectors (depending on the OS) for dBase, JDBC, ODBC, MySQL, ADO, Access and Oracle. You will though need to double-check that the underlying Java classes are available. It took me no time at all to get a data view from one of the MySQL databases on my server and to start designing and developing forms and reports from the information.

Previous versions of StarOffice have been supplied with a reduced version of Adabas D. StarOffice Base is a completely new application. As such, it feels moderately less polished than other applications in the suite, but no less capable. The wizards go a long way to improving the usability of the application. Certainly Base is no alternative to a traditional database server application with a web or dedicated application front end. It is definitely no direct replacement for Access yet. But Base will admirably fill the role of a database usable by end-users.

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