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Is LO Base the program I need, and what database do I need?

asked 2021-05-04 12:03:14 +0200

Toran gravatar image

updated 2021-05-04 12:22:20 +0200

Hi,

we are a (very) small business and compose a couple reports/invoices per week.

So far people just used to copy & paste old documents, but obviously that is error prone and could (probably?) be done easier using an address database and prepared documents with fields inside. People might need to access the same database from different computers, occasionally at the same time. So I need a database which can be shared - simultaneous editing of the database is not required, but e.g. two users pulling data from the DB at the same time.

Now I believe I can read up on how to do things, I just want to make sure that I take a proper path from the start.

a) Can I use LO Base for this purpose? b) What kind of database should I set up (I heard there are several choices, some more complicated/complex than others) - I would like it as easy as possible, obviously, but the "simultaneous pulling of data from the database" is an essential requirement. c) Anything I might have forgotten?

Thank you very much in advance, Toran

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ad c) a recent "old" document can still be up to date: an advantage. Together with storing information in the DB come procedures as to whom is responsible for keeping the central storage up to date. You might find that the data are used on more occasions: so the area of application may be wider than the first need suggests.
Support for LibO databases using HSQLDB drivers will stop as of now, firebird is the default standard.

parsely gravatar imageparsely ( 2021-05-04 17:21:48 +0200 )edit

@parsely,

You may have missed it but Firebird has again been removed as the default. It is still available for creation using the 'experimental' features turned on. Regardless, this question seems to indicate a database server is the direction to be taken.

@Toran,

This is not a question easily answered. Generally speaking, LibreOffice and the components therein would work for the limited description you describe. Base is a front end to a database. Multi-user databases would operate in a server mode. Look into PostgreSQL, HSQLDB server, MySQL, MariaDB and Firebird server for starters. No small task just this portion. Then other modules can work with this - Writer, Calc etc.

Ratslinger gravatar imageRatslinger ( 2021-05-04 17:47:56 +0200 )edit

I occasionally invoice. Since a long time I used the spreadshheet Invoice-Easy2.1-OOo.sxc(Save as .ods) from OpenOffice Templates but as it hasn't been developed for a long time it was dropped from the site and can only be found on the developer's web site http://www.swierkowski-online.de/eng.....

It uses macros in Calc for some functions but it keeps a journal of the invoices and there is a button for pdf to save for your records. It looks up addresses for customers and products from codes. I would be recommending it but it is old and it does seem to demand to be on the C drive, or at least save pdfs to the C drive. It is also a one user at a time invoice

Earnest Al gravatar imageEarnest Al ( 2021-05-05 02:49:42 +0200 )edit

@Earnest Al, TBH, I would not like to change any way the invoices or reports are stored (the people have their ways..), "just" the way they get the address headers into their documents. Having LO templates with field data rather than "previous versions that keep proliferating old text parts/date" obviously would be advantageous, but I would need to provide the users an easily accessible database where they can pick their data from -> ease of use, saving time.

@Ratslinger, Just to make sure: a) a (network) shared local single-user database file could not be used to provide the address data? The "multi-user" would only apply to people pulling data from the DB, not editing the DB b) any recommendation what would be one of the "easier" databases to set up? Bonus props if it could run on a QNAP system :)

@all, thank you so far for your input - database ...(plus)

Toran gravatar imageToran ( 2021-05-05 08:42:50 +0200 )edit

@Toran,

I personally would not use anything but a database server. It will, in my opinion, provide more benefits over time and is not that difficult to set up. All database education can seem difficult at first. You don't chose a database because it is easy but rather because it fits your needs.

I cannot comment on QNAP - appears to be NAS.

Ratslinger gravatar imageRatslinger ( 2021-05-05 18:14:12 +0200 )edit
1

I agree entirely with Ratslinger about having a proper database server if there is more than one person accessing the database. I merely suggested Invoice-Easy as just one or two invoices a week suggests just a single person and possibly not much time to spend on implementing a new system. If company growth is expected then investing in an expandable system makes sense.

Earnest Al gravatar imageEarnest Al ( 2021-05-05 22:16:23 +0200 )edit

I understand - I just wanted to make sure that using a single database file would not have been a solution to overlook from the start. So, setting up a database server is what I will be looking into - are there any recommendations/any source to check out for me what database to go for? Obviously I am at "zero" there and would appreciate pointers. Re: NAS - yes, QNAP is a NAS, but there are some packages that also can host databases. If it is possible, I will use a database installation on the NAS, but if not, I will set up a server on a PC...

Toran gravatar imageToran ( 2021-05-06 05:25:32 +0200 )edit

are there any recommendations/any source to check out for me what database to go for?

That would require me to be well informed about your companies' current and future tasks and goals. I happen to use PostgreSQL but I did list others in my first comment.

Ratslinger gravatar imageRatslinger ( 2021-05-06 05:32:52 +0200 )edit

Well, we "just" need to store full sets of addresses together with a business contact, overall we are talking maybe 100-200 different entries. We just want to update the entries centrally so that no old data is used and so that the entry is available as soon as one user creates the entry.

Modification of entries will be a rare occasion itself, it is more about being able to pull the data for fields in LibreOffice templates -> quick access to correct data.

Toran gravatar imageToran ( 2021-05-06 05:55:59 +0200 )edit

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answered 2021-05-12 09:19:58 +0200

MSPhobe gravatar image

updated 2021-05-12 09:39:18 +0200

To answer your question: I'd use Libre Office with Firebird (as an embedded engine) for this. If you'd already got that far, and meant more subtle things by "... what type..." of database, then see some of the comments already made by others. But I would START with a version of the system that ran on just one computer, using a simple, one user access, local installation of Libre Office. The next stage would be to have several such workstations, and use pedestrian techniques to update the separate copies of the database whenever necessary. A system built thus would be a perfectly sensible first strp along a road that could one day lead to one file on a central server which was the source of the data for any PC on the LAN.

Firebird is currently "hidden"... see other. I believe this is NOT because it is, in general, problematic, but because the tools to convert (dependably) an old HSQL database (ANY old one) to a Firebird database are not yet available. I doubt they ever will be. A bridge too far. But I also believe that HSQL's days are numbered, that Firebird is the future. I speak as someone who has had to redo databases to migrate to the "latest, greatest" many times. Leaving Borland's excellent Paradox was not my first such migration. See the Old Fart's Guide to the History of Computers. They didn't use Paradox at Bletchley, but it came not long after that.

To add things that I think are relevant: Big visions are wonderful things... but businesses thrive on things that work. And no business should let itself become too dependant on one cog in the machine. The following isn't a big vision, but it might serve as a starting point for your ambitions. A very do-able starting point.

Set up a small database that has at its heart a field with multi-line text. The other fields would provide ways to search for the record you need. Always keep an up-to-date ink-on-paper copy of the data available for when the computers aren't working, and as an ultimate backup against the day the disk crashes. But, day to day, a user needs to enter name and address on an invoice? The form from the database runs in a small window at the edge of your screen, one field lets the user enter search criteria, another displays matching records' multiline text fields. A quick select/copy/paste between windows and the job is done. Get that much working, and it would probably be easy enough to add a button to say "Copy the text in the 'contact' field."

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Asked: 2021-05-04 12:03:14 +0200

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