LibreOffice Base introduction

This section of the Website contains articles and videos about the open-source relational database management system for LibreOffice. Since Base uses Writer to generate reports and forms and can import data from Calc spreadsheets, many of these will be about different aspects of Writer and Calc as well as Base.

LibreOffice Base is a front-end graphical user interface for SQL and other types of databases. It also can create embedded databases in HSQLDB. The application, which has been part of StarOffice and OpenOffice since those suites were managed by Sun Microsystems, has continued with LibreOffice.

While single-user databases can be created, Base has been designed mainly to be a front-end application that connects with databases running on servers. It can edit and add tables to those databases as well as generate reports, forms, and queries. There will be some articles and videos about this.

Here are the types of databases it can connect to:

LibreOffice Base database choices
These are the types of databases that you can connect to with LibreOffice Base.
  • JDBC
  • Oracle JDBC
  • ADO
  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft Access 2007
  • Spreadsheet
  • dBASE
  • Text
  • MySQL
  • ODBC
  • PostgreSQL

Base uses Writer to create reports and forms. It is not a stand-alone application like some of its competitors, and it has functions and icons that the other applications have.
Most of its menus are the same as the five other applications. However, it does not have as many toolbars as Writer, Calc, Impress, and Draw.

The menus are as follows:

  • File
  • Edit
  • View
  • Insert
  • Tools
  • Window
  • Help

It does not have any unique menus like Writer, Calc, Impress, and Draw do. It also does not have as many toolbars as its fellow applications.

  • Form
  • Query
  • Report
  • Standard
  • Table

In contrast to the menus, it only has one in common with other applications. The Standard toolbar contains the basic functions of creating, opening, and saving documents. It has unique icons for sorting data and creating Forms, Reports, and Queries.

Base and competitors

Having a relational database application does not make the LibreOffice suite unique.

Several other office suites include one. OpenOffice and NeoOffice have the same application because LibreOffice was built with the same source code as them, though it has been developed more.

Kexi is another database creation program that is part of the little known Calligra suite. These applications are open-source and are available on every operating system that their suites run on. The other database applications, that are part of a suite, are available for Windows only.

Many compare Base to Microsoft Access, as they are both tools for creating relational databases.

However, Base is mainly designed to be a simple, front-end graphical user interface for connecting with various databases on servers.

As mentioned before, it can create an embedded database, using HSQLDB, that only one person can use at a time. The HSQL Development Group suggests using Base with a server instance of HyperSQL

Access is designed more for creating a database that can run on a single desktop computer or run on a small server that a small group uses. It has SQL functions, but it has been built on the Microsoft Jet Database Engine, and it is designed for small databases and 255 users. Microsoft has an SQL Server for those requiring more.

Paradox is a Windows only application that is a relational database management system that is part of the Corel WordPerfect Professional suite. Like Base, it allows you to connect to SQL, Oracle,and other relational database management systems.

History

Base has its roots in StarOffice. It was one of the applications in StarOffice 2.0, that was released in 1994. The application strangely was not included in versions 3-4 of the suite. It reappeared in version 5.1.

The application carried over to OpenOffice and then LibreOffice. The first version of LibreOffice (3.4) did not have any changes for Base. In version 3.5, an integrated PostgreSQL native driver was included. Version 3.6 added a docked object pane.Version 4, except for the Windows version, allowed users to access their Thunderbird address book.
Later versions of Base have received minor updates.

Conclusion

Base is a tool that allows users to create databases and connect with server-run databases to create and edit tables, create reports and forms, and perform queries. It is a much simpler application than Access, that requires help from the other LibreOffice applications to create the reports and forms.

However, it is more flexible than Access because it can connect to more types of databases, and therefore it can be used as a tool by those who work on larger databases. It is also available to Mac and Linux users, so it reaches a broader audience than its Microsoft counterpart.