Star Office; Open Office and the like.

  LastChip 17:00 04 Jan 2005

Some while ago, some of us had the privilege of experimenting with Sun's Star Office, and many (including myself) found little difference between MS Office and Sun's alternative for all practical purposes. Indeed, there were aspects of it that some even preferred.

However, the glaring lack of an Access equivalent, meant that for some people, Star Office was a non-starter. I should qualify that and explain there is a data base included, but it is nowhere near as easy to use for novices as Access.

But, I came across this today. A data base engine - HSQLDB click here that is rumoured to be offered in the next version of Open Office (the open source Office Suite that Star Office is based on) as the data-base component. IF it then becomes as easy to use as Access surely one must question the cost of the MS Office Suite as against Open Office, particularly if you are setting up a small office from scratch.

Seeing that MS is now offering in certain parts of the world a cut down version of Windows XP, to both stem the tide of migration towards Linux and to legitimise pirated copies of XP, I wonder if we are likely to see a "Mini" MS Office, to combat what could be a substantial competitor?

Not Likely? Well look at the thread "What about browsers then............." not an earth shattering take up I agree, but I suspect (and as our FE hints) MS will look closely at anything that is likely to diminish their market share.

  Taran 19:46 04 Jan 2005

As soon as I visited your link my spine prickled straight away on reading the first sentence:

"HSQLDB is the leading SQL relational database engine written in Java."

Two things came instantly to mind:

1. Any program written for the desktop in Java is, in all probability, going to absolutely hammer your systems resources to run it effectively. Jave programs are very, very strenuous to run.

2. Given the general lack of competition (there really aren't that many database engines written in Java suitable for desktop use) it becomes pretty easy to see how the claim that HSQLDB is the leading product in that area is not quite as impressive as it might seem.

This link click here leads to a PDF download describing how to use a superb, if slightly involved, solution of OpenOffice, ODBC and MySQL.

ADABAS is also excellent, but does take a lot of getting used to.

The problem with databases is that those who use them demand a good application to work with while those who don't use them are largely indifferent to the application software required to run them and often completely terrified of getting involved with them.

I'll be interested to watch future developments though.

  LastChip 21:14 04 Jan 2005

I, like many others I would think, had no idea you could use MySQL on a Windows machine with Open Office. I always thought it was Linux specific! What a shame that Open Office don't make that gem a little clearer.

I've downloaded your link and will investigate further when time permits.

With regard to Java, I am not qualified to comment on your suspicion. As you say, it's a wait and see situation.

  Taran 21:37 04 Jan 2005

In fairness, to use MySQL on a Windows computer requires a bit of jiggery pokery and is not a simple 1, 2, 3 click process. Hopwever, the point remains valid that it can be done and lots of people do.

If you are going to do it though, you may as well go the whole hog and install it into either Windows IIS (optional web server component on Windows 2000 and XP Pro) or as part of an Apache web server installation. By doing that you open up all kinds of possibilities to interact with MySQL using PHP.

It also allows you to run a very nice tool called phpMyAdmin click here which is a web browser based program from creating, editing and otherwise manipulating your MySQL databases. It's a lot more friendly than the command line interface and has some realy nice features.

A very nice interface for MySQL is the relatively new MySQLAdmin program click here

It requires a web server environment but allows you to really get things moving with your MySQL databases.

Anyway, the whole shebang works a treat although I have to admit that it is a long road to take from A to B compared to products like Access, Alpha Five and FileMaker Pro.


  Taran 21:43 04 Jan 2005

the link in my first reply to this post leads to a PDF document download that is just under 1.5mb in size, so anyone thinking of downloading it should be advised that on a dial up standard modem Internet connection it will take a few minutes.

  Simsy 03:53 08 Jan 2005

because of the origin of this thread, that "Ability Office" includes a relational database.

It can save in the Access .mbf format, and open Access files. (Though I think forms dont cross the divide, and I'm not 100% sure about relatins; certainly tables and data seem to transfer happily). It can handle macros, though not VBA.

The user interface, though not exactly the same as Access, is similar enough to not cause a problem for those experienced in it's use.

And it's cheap at about £50 for the whole suite, which also includes a "presentation" application.

You can buy the Database as a standalone application for about £20

click here



  mbp 10:37 08 Jan 2005

Taran, why has there been no comments thus far on the flexibilities of Word Perfect Office 12?

  Forum Editor 11:20 08 Jan 2005

Presumably because nobody has asked - the thread is about Open Office.

For what it's worth I like Word Perfect Office 12. It does everything you want an Office suite to do, and it's a lot bit cheaper than MS Office. One of its best features is something that is often overlooked - you can save a document as a PDF file.

You'll have to buy the professional version if you want the Paradox database application though.

  mbp 14:48 08 Jan 2005

Star Office, Open Office, MS Office has been mentioned. Viewers should also be aware that there is also Ability Office, Easy Office, and Word Perfect Office that are also easily available and often not even mentioned in these forums, probably because many people are not aware of their existence. Each has its Pros and Cons and if anyone is thinking of investing somewhere between £0 to £300 and being beholden to that program for most of their work for several years to come, they should do some home work first. They should know what their Word Program can and will do for them and whether the program suits their needs. There are many subtle differences in each program and if you know what you want for your work, or pleasure, who can decide accordingly. Unfortunately most people do not know what they want and so use what has been packaged with their computer, i.e. Microsoft systems. Use the forums to ask about your requirements, and you might be guided to the right program for you.

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