Data Management

DIY: Create data entry forms for databases in LibreOffice Base

The Forms Wizard in LibreOffice Base makes it easy to create forms so any user can enter data in a database. Follow along the Forms Wizard's eight-step process.

In order to keep track of employee data, you create your database in LibreOffice Base, and then realize you need a user-friendly way to enter data in the spreadsheet. You don't have to concern yourself with any heavy lifting on this end, because LibreOffice includes an easy to use wizard that will help you create forms so any user can enter data in a database.

The Forms Wizard will guide you through the process, but before you can get to the wizard, you must first open a database. We'll work with the database we created in my previous TechRepublic DIY post so you must connect to that database. I'll show you how to tackle this simple step.

  1. Open LibreOffice.
  2. Select Open Existing Database (Figure A).
  3. Select the database from the drop-down (if it is not listed, click the Open An Existing Database File button and find the database on the filesystem).
  4. Click Finish.

Figure A

The resulting window will be where you manage this particular database (Figure B). From here you can manage tables, run queries, create/manage forms, and run reports. In this window, you can also further customize the tables you created. Figure B

To fire up the Forms Wizard, click the Forms icon and then click the Use Wizard To Create Form icon. You can also create a form using the more advanced Design View tool (we'll concentrate on that tool in future posts). When you open the Forms Wizard, you will go through eight steps before your form is ready. Let's walk through each one.

Step 1: Field Selection

In the window you see in Figure C, select the fields from the database (the tables) that you want to include in this form. Select the fields you want and then select the right-facing arrow to add them. To include all of the fields, click the >> button. You can move fields up and down by selecting them (in the right pane) and then clicking either the up or down arrow. Click Next. Figure C

Step 2: Set Up A Subform

A subform is a form within a form and allows you to get more specific fields for a piece of data. For example, a form for employee personal data could also include a subform for employee work information. To create a subform, check the box for Add Subform (Figure D) and click Next. If you do not include a subform, the wizard will go to step five. Figure D

Step 3: Add Subform Fields

You will follow the same process that you did in step 2, except you will select the fields specific to the subform and then click Next.

Step 4: Get Joined Fields

Any subform field can be joined to a field in the main form. For example, Employee ID joined to ID or Phone number joined to Extension. To do this, select the Subform field from the drop-down box to be joined with the Form field in the respective drop-box (Figure E). You can join as many fields as you need. As soon as you join the first field, the second join section will become available and so on. After joining the necessary fields, click Next. Figure E

Step 5: Arrange Controls

Select the form layout from the four possible types (Figure F). Basically you are selecting how you want the labels and data entry points to be laid out. Make sure you choose the layout that will be easiest for all users. If you have a subform, make sure to select the layout for that form as well. Click Next. Figure F

Step 6: Data Entry

The two choices are to display only new data or to display all data (Figure G); this choice will determine what the data entry user can see. If you allow for the viewing of all data, anyone entering data into this database will be able to view any and all tables. You can, however, control whether the user can edit older data and add or delete data from the database. Figure G

Step 7: Apply Style

You want color, a border, or a 3D look? This screen is where you handle the style for your form (Figure H). You have 10 color choices and three field border choices. Make sure the color you choose can be viewed for long periods; otherwise, you'll strain the eyes of your data entry people. Figure H

Step 8: Set Name

You are simply adding a name to your form (Figure I). Make it obvious, especially if you plan on creating other forms based on this database. From this screen, you can set the wizard to open the form immediately so you can begin entering data. You can also go back and modify the form if you feel like further tweaking is necessary. Figure I

Your form is now ready to use. Outside of running the form immediately, you can open a form for data entry by opening the database, clicking the Form icon, and then double clicking the form you want to work with in the lower pane (Figure J). You can also open the form in the designer view mode by right-clicking the form and selecting Edit. Figure J

Your forms are ready for data entry. This process is a straightforward way to get data into a database in such a way that end users should have no problem handling. The only problem with using this method is that the design scope is fairly limited. Next time, I'll explain how to use the LibreOffice Base Design View mode so you can get more specific and creative with your forms.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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