Public database example of application as a learning resource

When I started to re-build my MS-Access application nine months ago using LibreOffice I couldn’t find any public examples where LO has been put to use in a fully functioning integrated application that made use of the MSQLDB database and the Base macros and writer.

This note is by way of a pointer to my application and hopefully it will act as a learning resource and encouragement to other developers who might be considering using LO.

Notwithstanding the observations which follow, it’s also a heartfelt thank you and tribute to the unsung development heroes and heroines of LibreOffice.

In re-building the application I had one primary goal


• To have one application, with one source, that ran on any platform that was capable of running LibreOffice.

and three sub-goals which were

• it should be readily useable by a mainly non-IT literate user community

• to have a distributable, supportable and sustainable application via a website.

• that it should have more, and better functionality, that the original design.

My application is called SecretaryBird. It is a free, unique workbench support application for poets and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

You can get an appreciation of what I’ve built by downloading the free database application, writer template and help pages from the website:



Application statistics


33 tables

+100 queries

48 forms

43 reports

1 integrated writer template

30 code modules containing some
+6,000 lines macro Base code

over 100 web pages of help

about 9 man months of work

A list of some the key functionality

• menu & switchboard interface driven off one database table

• fully integrated context sensitive help at the form level.

• error trapping, subroutine & function stack dump tracing & email reporting

• data updates off two websites into database

• in built demo data

• 3x install versions for Windows, OSX & Unix from 1 source code

• version updates via website

• dynamic reporting with date & data range selection

• user access to system parameters & flags to customise application behaviour

• ‘internationalised’ for US date format DD/MM/YY

Some observations and advice after the re-build in comparison to using MS-Access

LO is about 3-5 years behind MS-Access (and MS-Office) with respect to the stability, ease, capabilities and integration BUT you can’t achieve gaol 1 with MS-Access

Don’t try and build ANY but a simple non-trivial, non business dependent application database using LO without first splitting the database unless you can cope with it crashing +50% of the time!

For all but the most trivial, simple, straightforward stuff you’ll need to write a macro. And be prepared to get you hands dirty, lift the bonnet, access the underlying API much sooner than with MS-Access.

LO Base is not VBA! It is however very like VBA and Access2Base is very good.

MSQLDB is not the the same as Access SQL ,the language implementation is very strict.

ASK LibreOffice website is an excellent developer resource.

Learn to live with the clunky development interface or build your own toolbars

Get acquainted with LO’s Bugzilla reports – it will save you time & effort.

Don’t build with the Fresh version of LO because there’s a good chance you’ll get bitten with a bug. Build with the Still version & experiment with Fresh.

Finally, a wish

That the LibreOffice developers might use the application as a test case for future versions.


If you feel/think/know that some of the things the application does can be improved and would be useful for others to know please add your comments.

Thank you. I have added a link to the Base Documentation thread in the alternative forum here.

Thank you Oweng for adding the forum link