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Quick Introduction to Forms
Open Office Database Tutorials-

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 ®, 2/06-7/09.

The Plan_______________

In this tutorial, we will set up a very basic form. Although you can work directly with data in tables, it is better to use a forms.

Before you start this tutorial, complete the one which shows you how to create a simple table. We will be working with the results of that tutorial, the table called NameAddrPhones in the database FDB004.

There is a more comprehensive tutorial about forms and many other basic ideas which came up along the way. You should probably attempt that one someday, but this one will suffice for now.

Execution of the Plan_______________

Open the FDB004 database. Don't be fooled by the little trap that lies waiting for you.

If you launch ooBase from a shortcut to it, as opposed to by double-clicking on the name of a database you have created, you are presented with a dialog asking you if you wish to create a new database, or open or connect to an existing database.

Quite often, you will wish to open an existing database, one you have used recently

Doing this is easy:

....but don't click on the "open" button just below the "recently used" listbox.

What you want to do is click on the "Finish" button. That will open the database you specified. The "open" button just below the "recently used" listbox, the button with an opening folder icon on it, is for launching a dialog to specify a database which does not currently appear in the list available via the edit box. You have been warned! (But when you take the bait, don't worry. You can still get what you want.)

You should find yourself in the project manager window. This is the window with three panes: At the left, one called "Database". And on the right, one above the other, "Tasks", and a third, probably labeled "Forms" at the moment. If the third pane does not say "Forms" at the moment, then in the pane labeled "Database" (left column) click on "Forms", and the "Forms" pane should appear, although it will be empty at the moment. If you are not yet an old friend of this, you might want to visit my concise(!) introduction to the ooBase main project manager window.

Click on "Use Wizard to Create Form".

In Step 1 of the Form Wizard, you specify which table you are working with. You should see "Table: NameAddrPhone" selected on your screen, as it is the only table in the database. (So far!)

Click on the right pointing double arrow to move all of the available fields to the "Fields In Form" column.

Select the "ID" field. Click the left pointing single arrow to move it back to the "Available fields", out of the "Fields In The Form" list. (The field "ID" is useful to ooBase internally, but isn't something we want to mess with directly. It is the table's primary key. Primary keys are a topic for later.)

Click Next.

In Step 2, we could set up a sub-form, but we don't want to. Click Next. We will be "fast forwarded" past steps 3 and 4, ending up at step 5.

In step 5, the default arrangement ("As Data Sheet") is good for our needs. Click Next.

In step 6, take a moment to marvel at your options... you can set up multiple forms, each tailored to one sort of task. For now, select "Display all data", and do not tick any of the boxes which would restrict data modification. Click Next.

Step 7 lets you set a style. Any of them will do. If you move the wizard dialog to one side, you can preview the styles as you select them. Click Next.

In step 8, you can give the form a name. Use "SimpleDataEntry". Click finish.

You will have a simple spreadsheet-like form. You can use it to look at the data in your table, and to edit the data. Play with the form a bit. In this simple introduction to forms, I am going to resist going off onto the various related topics which I explore more fully in my other "Introduction to Forms" tutorial. You can discover many things for yourself.

The form as it stands isn't very satisfactory. Close it. That should bring you back to the project manager window. Right click on the form "SimpleDataEntry", and select the edit choice. (If you don't get that choice, close the database, close the Open Office Quickstarter, and try again. Still no "Edit" option? Restart Windows. The "Edit" option doesn't go away very often, but that's how you get it back, if you lose it.)

The form will open again, but now you can re-design it.

Try re-ordering the column headings: You just drag things to where you want them.

Right-click on the "PhonePriority" column heading, select "Column..." Change the label (not the name) to PhPri. Horizontal space is at a premium, unless you have a super high resolution screen. As the Phone Priority code is only going to be a single digit the column doesn't need to be as wide as "PhonePriority" would require.

If you click on the right place, in the right circumstances, you can get drag handles for the whole table, and resize it to suit your needs. You can also change the size of the window the form is displayed in. Both size settings will be "remembered" between when you close the window and reopen it. The form is actually "just" an ooWriter document... with some fancy bits.

You can do much, much more in the design mode... but for now, that will suffice. Close the form. Reopen it in the ordinary mode, and try entering some data.

The Data Sheet mode is good because you can see many records at once. In Part Two, we're going to set up a different form, just to see what another format has to offer.

Part Two_______________

Get yourself back to the Project Manager, and invoke "Use Wizard to Create Form" again. (While I would probably use "Create table in design view", I don't think I'd like to "fire the wizard" when it comes to creating forms.)

Proceed as before, but this time, when you get to step 5, select the first option, "Columnar- Labels Left.

Carry on as before through the rest of the wizard, but name the form "One Record Per View".

The form you have created is the electronic equivalent of the old card index, where you had a card for each person's record. You can only see one record at a time, but if there is a lot of information in each record, the limitation may be acceptable. The layout that lets you see lots of records at once, the "data sheet" layout, sometimes involves endless scrolling left and right to make the part of the line we need visible.


This tutorial has shown you how to create a very simple form. The main reason was to give you the tool for putting some sample data into the database we created, because that data will be used for several other tutorials on this site.

This tutorial has not even scratched the surface of the things you can do with forms. Some of those you can discover by yourself, just by playing with the forms we have made. You can also read my more comprehensive "introductory" tutorial on forms.

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