OT- Libreoffice - Base / Writer will this work?

Tommy Trussell tommy.trussell at gmail.com
Sun Dec 13 20:16:19 UTC 2015

On Fri, Dec 11, 2015 at 1:15 PM, P. Echols <p.echo926 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Greetings:
> Question is whether what I describe below is possible / reasonable using
> Libreoffice Base and Writer.  Part 1 is setting up the database, part 2 is
> importing data into writer, which is what I need.  Since Part 1 is time
> consuming, I don't want to start if I cannot get the desired result.
> I manage projects where I need to generate written reports, action
> requests, etc. with project specific information.  Because of my existing
> extensive library of forms, I need to stay with LO writer.
> I know it is possible to set up a database with a single table, each
> record having the data for one project.  Insert fields for that db into a
> template, and then open the template and select the particular record to
> populate.
> BUT, in my project, there are two items that require a list more
> appropriate for a linked table.  Imagine a report about an author.  Details
> specific to that author are from the "AuthorInfo" table, the author's
> bibliography is a separate table and publishers are another table.  I need
> to be able to generate a Writer template that will import the individual
> fields from the AuthorInfo table, but also allow inserting the bibliography
> and publisher info as if pasting in a spreadsheet.
> Has anyone done this?  I have a sense of the difficulty of Part 1, how
> difficult is Part 2?
No matter how complicated the database, if you can get the results into a
single table (the table can be the result of a Base query if you are
pulling data from other tables), then you can have Writer merge the fields
from that single table into multiple documents. Writer can "see" the
results from more than one table, but as far as I know it can only merge a
single table. Writer can also insert fields or change text based on
conditions (if - then - else).

UNFORTUNATELY even though I have used it successfully for years (I have a
database of legal descriptions, terms, and payments and I produce contracts
and renewal letters annually), I will caution you that Writer is extremely
finicky and the tools for managing and updating the merge fields in Writer
are ugly. The conditional text is frustratingly picky on its syntax, too.

It sounds like you are creating more of a directory (single document with
multiple data rows in it). I don't believe the mail merge tools are able to
insert new rows into tables, but it would be logical and useful if they
could. (I know you can set up a blank table and insert database contents
into it -- that's how the mailing label tools work.)

LibreOffice has a "Report Builder" tool available as a separate install.
(Install the libreoffice-report-builder package in Ubuntu.) Based on your
description, I would think Report Builder might help you, but I recall it
being similarly finicky and limited. It allows you to create a special
document populated with database fields. Once you install the
libreoffice-report-builder package (and restart LibreOffice if you had it
open), then open the database, Report Builder becomes visible as an option
from inside Base. I haven't tried it in awhile, though. If I understand
what you are looking for, you might have a look at the Report Builder and
see if it helps accomplish what you're looking to do.

I don't intend to pour cold water on your idea -- I think you can probably
be successful -- as long as you recognize the data merging and all-around
database integration is a weak point in LibreOffice / OpenOffice, and you
will certainly encounter some difficulties getting it set up.

Oh and if you don't already know about it, you might find useful
information (and some sample files) here:

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-users/attachments/20151213/17528936/attachment.html>

More information about the ubuntu-users mailing list