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Open Office ooBase Tutorials
How To Clone a Database

You may find that the database being shipped with OpenOffice (ver.2 and higher) delights you as much as it has me. This page tries to help you use it.

Forget anything you may have heard about Adabas, which came with Star Office, the commercial version of Open Office 1. The current Open Office's database, "Base", aka "ooBase", is unrelated. And remember that Open Office, including ooBase, is free! But don't let that fool you. And it's not new. Big organizations, government and civilian, are adopting it as their standard office suite... and saving million$, but still Getting The Job Done.

There's more about ooBase in the main index to this material.

This page is "browser friendly". Make your browser window as wide as you want it. The text will flow nicely for you. It is easier to read in a narrow window. With most browsers, pressing plus, minus or zero while the control key (ctrl) is held down will change the texts size. (Enlarge, reduce, restore to default, respectively.) (This is more fully explained, and there's another tip, at my Power Browsing page.)

Page contents © TK Boyd, Sheepdog Software ®, 3/10-3/10.

To clone a database

Why would you want to?

Various possible reasons....

The bad news: You can't just copy the old database! Well, you can... that will capture the data, forms, etc of the old database... but the new one should then be "registered" with Open Office. Without that, some advanced features will work for you, and other things may be problematic. But don't worry... Big Brother isn't watching. This "registering" isn't like registering at a web site. Rather, it is "telling" the Open Office installation on your PC about a database that Open Office modules there may want to access.

This tutorial was overhauled in January 2010, and what is here seems to work fine with OpenOffice 3.1.0 on a Windows XP system.

Using ordinary file management tools....

That's the easy and obvious part done.


At this point, we have a copy of the database under a different name and/ or in a different location, be that merely a different folder on the original computer, or on a different computer

Although some things can be done with an unregistered database, I think it is best to register it.

This "registering" is not like registering as a user at a website... you don't need to be internet connected at all to "register the database". Each Open Office installation maintains a list, or "register" of databases. The location of the database is held in the register, and a "registered name", which you might think of as an alias for the database. I generally use the file name for the registered name, to minimize my confusion.

If you have an unregistered file on the computer, you need to start up ooBase (or any of the other Open Office modules, in fact, but you might as well open ooBase). You can even open ooBase using the as-yet-unregistered database. As usual, either of the common ways of starting an application can be used, vis...


1) Start ooBase. Use the "Open existing database" option, and use the "Open" button. It lets you browse your backing store. Double click on FDB007.odb when you've drilled down to it.

...or by...

2) Double-click on "FDB007.odb" in the Windows Explorer window you may still have open. (Substitute a different file name, of course, if you aren't using my recommended file name!) This approach will only work, of course, if your file associations call for ooBase to run for .odb files, which would be usual.

After either of the above, you should be looking at the usual ooBase main project manager window. You can even open a table and edit the contents. But your database isn't, yet, registered, unless you did it earlier- you only have to register a given database once on each system it will be used on. Databases created from scratch can be registered during their initial creation, which I recommend. If you have a database that you did not register, you can do it by the same process as we are about to discuss. If you don't register a database, some advanced features, mainly related to integrating the operation of associated documents, will not work. And I wouldn't be surprised if other nuisances cropped up.

Registering the database is done within a section of the OpenOffice settings dialog.

On a Windows machine, you start by clicking on ooBase's menu item "Tools", and then clicking on "Options"

On a Mac, which I don't use, can't help you with, I gather the "way in" is via > Preferences

Whether you are on a Windows machine or a Mac, you should by now be looking at a dialog with a "tree" in a panel on the left, with multiple entries, preceded by a plus sign (+) if the sub-tree is collapsed, preceded by a minus sign (-) if the sub tree is expanded, on display. One of the top level sections is " Base". (Go past the first one, labeled just "") If there's a + sign in front of " Base", click it. Once you've done that you will see subsections. Click on Databases. The window, titled "Create Database Link", that opens has a "New" button. Click it. You aren't asking to make a new database, merely a new entry in the register of databases. Browse to the database you are trying to register. (The browsing window you will be in is labeled "Open", which isn't quite what you're doing, but don't worry.) Click the "Open" button when you've selected the file you want to register. That will drop you back to the "Create Link" window. For "Registered name", assign something sensible, e.g. FDB007, and click Okay. (ooBase will stop you from accidentally giving the same name to two databases.) Done! Registered! Whew. Much more easily done than described!

(Just before we move on: Deleting files from the list of registered databases does not remove the underlying files on your hard disc. Nor does removing a file take that database off the list of registered databases. Deleting is always dangerous, but if I were seized by a fit of "tidy-itis", I would be inclined to shut down ooBase, delete any .odb files I really, really didn't need, and then restart ooBase, go into "Tools/Options/ etc..." and remove the names from the list of registered databases.)

(Another aside: You may sometimes encounter weird "File cannot be deleted" events. Be sure ooBase is shut down when copying, moving, renaming, deleting database files, and it may even pay to exit the Quickstarter, which (in Windows) will reveal itself in the System Tray (lower right) if it is active... but I wouldn't bother unless things are being weird.)

I hope all that was clear, and answered your questions.

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