Like Microsoft Access, OpenOffice Base gives you the ability to manage complex data easily. Unlike Access, OpenOffice Base is free and you can use its databases in other OpenOffice applications. In fact, many OpenOffice apps can connect to data that resides in other types of data sources and databases. This flexibility makes it possible for you to bring together information from a variety of sources and consolidate it inside a single OpenOffice document.
Relational Database Principles
If you wish to create OpenOffice base databases, you'll need to understand a little about how relational databases work. This type of database consists of tables that contain fields which represent your data. If you create multiple tables, you have the option to link them by adding one or more common fields to each table. A Products table, for example, might contain the same Product ID field that a customer table has. In this example, Product ID would link those two tables. OpenOffice helps you create fields and define their properties quickly.
Let Wizards Build Your Tables
Creating a new database is as simple as walking through a wizard that helps you choose a data file name and clicking "Finish." If your computer doesn't have Java, you'll need to install it to get Base to work (link in Resources). After you click "Tables," follow the instructions to create a new table and populate it with fields. OpenOffice Base gives each table that you create a .odb file extension. The next time you open the application, you can choose an ODB file to work with that database.
Work with Alternative Databases
When your OpenOffice document needs data that's not in an OpenOffice database, you can connect to an external database instead. Perform that task by clicking "File," selecting "New" and then clicking "Database." A drop-down menu shows you a list of available databases. Items on the list include Microsoft Access, JDBC, MySQL and Adabase D. After you select a database, follow the instructions to connect to it. The wizard may ask you to provide connection parameters depending on the database you choose.
Nothing but Text
A text document can be a valuable source of data if your OpenOffice document needs that information. Spreadsheets may contain useful information as well. You can open a text file or spreadsheet as a data source by selecting one of those items from the same drop-down menu that contains "Databases." The wizard will ask you to select the file's location. Although you can view information from a spreadsheet and use it in reports, you cannot make updates to the spreadsheet itself.
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