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When trying the same approach with either queries or reports, the file seems to be savable only back into the database. Is there a way to create an external file similar to the forms method? Lacking that, is there a way to create a desktop shortcut that would run the query or report?

If I understand your question correctly, you do have the option of generating (auto-updating) dynamic reports and query result-sets using Calc linked to a registered Base database as data-source. See these links for ideas:

  1. Creating DataPilot Tables
  2. Using the DataPilot
  3. Tutorial - Using registered datasources in Calc
  4. Also see the relevant sections of the LO Calc Guide (e.g. Chapter 8)

Is there a way to create an external file similar to the forms method?

When using a Calc sheet to report/query the linked database, you are effectively 'hiding' the Base interface from your users, so hopefully that does address your question.

When trying the same approach with either queries or reports, the file seems to be savable only back into the database. Is there a way to create an external file similar to the forms method? Lacking that, is there a way to create a desktop shortcut that would run the query or report?

If I understand your question correctly, you do have the option of generating (auto-updating) dynamic reports and query result-sets using Calc linked to a registered Base database as data-source. See these links for ideas:

  1. Creating DataPilot Tables
  2. Using the DataPilot
  3. Tutorial - Using registered datasources in Calc
  4. Also see the relevant sections of the LO Calc Guide (e.g. Chapter 8)
  5. Tutorial - Standalone Forms / Switchboard

Is there a way to create an external file similar to the forms method?

When using a Calc sheet to report/query the linked database, you are effectively 'hiding' the Base interface from your users, so hopefully that does address your question.