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  OpenOffice.org – a Sweet New Suite

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Jeff Ash
Software Engineer
ouldn't it be great to be able to deploy a set of office applications across the entire company that worked on a variety of operating systems such as Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris, and FreeBSD? And what if it could also access data stored in BASIS DBMS files? Oh, and one more thing – what if the entire application set was absolutely free?

OpenOffice.org (OOo) is a "multi-platform and multi-lingual" office suite and an open-source project. Compatible with all other major office suites, the product is free to download, use, and distribute. Version 2.0, still in beta, provides several powerful applications including Writer (word processor), Impress (presentation program), Draw (vector Drawing tool), Calc (spreadsheet), Base (database), and Math (mathematical function creator). OOo seamlessly integrates all of the applications while delivering the most consistent user experience. Each application saves documents in a choice of OpenDocument format or proprietary formats such as Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. Since OOo builds in Java support, it easily interfaces with the BBj® JDBC Driver.

This new office suite provides unlimited possibilities for BBx® generation users who run many applications on a variety of platforms, even within the same company. For example, a company using the BBj JDBC Driver can use the powerful formulas and Calculations available in Calc to analyze the raw data contained in their BASIS database. They could use Writer to produce form letters automatically customized for each customer on a mailing list. Base gives end users the ability to view the raw data in their database, write their own simple data presentation applications that interact with a BASIS database, or to generate professional-looking complex reports.

To illustrate this point, Figure 1 shows a spreadsheet generated with Calc using a pivot table connected to the BASIS Chile Company demo database. Creating this spreadsheet took mere seconds using the Pivot Table wizard in OOo. This example includes a list of customers with their current balance due and the total due of all customers.

Figure 1. Calc spreadsheet generated from the Chile Company database.

Writer can easily create, for example, a form letter that contains linked data from a BASIS database. As shown in Figure 2, simply type the document and insert fields where necessary. The resulting letter with merged data from the database appears in Figure 3.

Figure 2. Writer form letter containing the field name.
Figure 3. A single letter with the merged data from the Chile Company database

Similarly, Base provides access to the CATEGORY and ITEM tables and groups the information by category. Use wizards within Base to create fully functional forms; create a form like the sample in Figure 4 in less than one minute of work.

Figure 4. Sample form created in less than one minute with Base wizards.

These are only a few examples of the tremendous power available to users using the BBj JDBC Driver. The actual possibilities are endless.

Summary
A powerful suite of office applications is vital to almost every business. OOo provides a cost-effective platform independent way of meeting this vast need. BASIS continues its dedication to providing BBx customers a broad range of solutions to meet their spectrum of data access needs. The BBj JDBC Driver works very well with the OOo product and, therefore, opens up a world of possibilities to BASIS developers and end users.

Try OpenOffice.org with BBj, the newest generation of BBx, by downloading a copy today.

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