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  1. #1
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    open-source Frontend Forms/Query/Macro builder for open-source RDBMS ?

    I want to design a few Forms-based database apps [edit: small apps for private use, hence...] using open-source software, and was thinking HSQLDB a good choice of RDBMS engine for my Windows7 Nettop on account of close adherence to ANSI SQL standards and small footprint.

    However, HSQLDB (or any of the other open-source RDBMS I looked at) has next to no GUI Front-end interface for the user - a far cry from the sophisticated Forms based GUI I designed 20 years ago with Access2.

    So apart from 'Base', which according to openoffice.org's own site is not well integrated with HSQLDB, and I gather an unloved component of the 'Office suite' not significantly advanced since it belonged to Sun, I am having great difficulty in finding even 1, never mind a selection, of open-source Front Ends to support Forms/Query/Macro builders to provide a similar Forms based GUI that came with MS Access2. (Perhaps this tool handles Stored Procedures also ?)

    During that search I came across many low-level front-end tools serving a similar function to the basic ManagementSwing tool bundled with HSQLDB, but alas, not the functionality needed to insulate the user from direct table access, via sophisticated user friendly forms to validate/transform data entry.

    I read open-Source software can often be a superior alternative to commercial such as Access. However, I am unfamiliar with the open-source rdbms scene, and so far failed to find anything comparable to the Access forms features.

    Can any of you guys recommend the names of 1 or more free tools to fill this rather important function ?

    I find it difficult to believe there are no Forms-based GUI for the wide range of JDBC/ODBC connected open-source RDBMS's around !!!
    Last edited by will66; 06-03-12 at 23:09. Reason: clarification

  2. #2
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    If this is to be done for your company (rather than an experiment of your own) suggest the company buy/lease a product along with support.

  3. #3
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    Open Source tends to compartmentalize projects, so that the database engine does little or nothing in the way of GUI, programming, etc. Open Source uses the "divide and conquer" approach, so that invidual tools play well with each other but each tool does one job well.

    Consider using a content management system like Drupal, Xoops, or Joomla. These packages are designed to work with content, which is what you seem to focus on in your discussion above. Once you find a good content system, it will take a bit of learning to build the application framework to drive what you want.

    The tools exist, but Open Source does things differently than commercial products like Microsoft Access. Both approaches have their strong and weak points and the two approaches are quite different in the way that they deliver very similar experiences to the end user.

    -PatP
    In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, theory and practice are unrelated.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by papadi View Post
    If this is to be done for your company (rather than an experiment of your own) suggest the company buy/lease a product along with support.
    . Sorry, I should have clarified: a few small apps for private use only, hence using open-source software - as in 'free'. I saw loads of solutions using commercial software, many quite pricey, eg Visual Paradigm ... but if I give up on seeking open-source tools, I might as well just buy the integrated MS Access and not bother with open-source for the rdbms engine.
    Last edited by will66; 06-04-12 at 00:07. Reason: clarification

  5. #5
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    If this is for your use and education, you might consider MS SQL Server Express.

    From Microsoft:
    Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012 Express is a powerful and reliable free data management system that delivers a rich and reliable data store for lightweight Web Sites
    A few years ago, i downloaded the 2008 release and it installed with no problems. Also downloaded was MS Visual Studio which installed and was usable rather quickly.

    As that computer went away with one of my kids, i should re-install on the replacement pcs. . .

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by papadi View Post
    If this is for your use and education, you might consider MS SQL Server Express.

    From Microsoft:

    A few years ago, i downloaded the 2008 release and it installed with no problems. Also downloaded was MS Visual Studio which installed and was usable rather quickly.
    Yes, it is only for a few personal projects - single user, non-web local storage on a Nettop. As it was 20 years ago I last designed a database, I have no experience of MS SQL Server Express. Are you advising SQL Server Express has the functionality to be a Frontend providing a Forms/Query/Macro builder to make a MS Access style Forms based GUI, able to access HSQLDB or any JDBC- ODBC connected RDBMS ?

    Since using Access2, I read MS software is anti-standards, designed to 'lock' users into their 'closed world', where not content with that, they then deliberately break their own standards to force their users into buying upgrades for no other reason than that. It is partly for that reason I am interested in 100% open-source & free alternatives - where presumably there is no anti-standards motivation.

    I also seek a free design tool supporting: drawing the ER Diagram (preferably allowing use of Chen 1:1, 1:n, n:m notation) validation of the ERD, SQL Code Generation for the JDBC-ODBC connected target RDBMS. You mention a free version of VS. Is this able to support most of the above ?

  7. #7
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    There was a point in time when Microsoft was headed firmly down the proprietary route and even today a few of their products are still quite proprietary by the very nature of the product, but for the most part Micorosft has been very much pro-standards since about 2008 or so.

    Pretty much everyone in the client/server arena either already has or is proceeding to abandon the concept of "all in one" packages with a database engine, app builder/user interface, reporting package, etc. The trend is toward "best of breed" tools that work together.

    There are still a few file based packages that do "all in one" fairly nicely. Microsoft Access, FileMaker, and Paradox jump right to my mind, but I'm sure that there are others. These packages try to be all things to all people, and most of them offer a nice integrated solution to small problems like what you've listed above but they fail miserably as applications become complex. The exception is Microsoft Access because while it can be used as an "all in one" solution, it can grow to support several hundred users if you have the money, time, hardware, and additional software to make that happen.

    -PatP
    In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, theory and practice are unrelated.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Phelan View Post
    There was a point in time when Microsoft was headed firmly down the proprietary route and even today a few of their products are still quite proprietary by the very nature of the product, but for the most part Micorosft has been very much pro-standards since about 2008 or so.

    Pretty much everyone in the client/server arena either already has or is proceeding to abandon the concept of "all in one" packages with a database engine, app builder/user interface, reporting package, etc. The trend is toward "best of breed" tools that work together.

    There are still a few file based packages that do "all in one" fairly nicely. Microsoft Access, FileMaker, and Paradox jump right to my mind, but I'm sure that there are others. These packages try to be all things to all people, and most of them offer a nice integrated solution to small problems like what you've listed above but they fail miserably as applications become complex. The exception is Microsoft Access because while it can be used as an "all in one" solution, it can grow to support several hundred users if you have the money, time, hardware, and additional software to make that happen.

    -PatP
    Thank you for that info re. MS. Shortly after your reply while still searching for an open-source/free tool to do ERD2SQL I thought of your post when reading this amusing post from 2009 my.rants();: No ERD to SQL code generation in Visio 2003/2007 Pro complaining "The ERD to SQL Forward code generation feature is nowhere to be found in Visio 2003 Pro, nor is it in 2007 Pro. This seems incredibly bizzare as it's the most useful feature you could have in an ERD designer. What's the point of spending time and effort to create a complex diagram and then having to hand-write all the SQL yourself even though all the information is already modeled?". I want to avoid that same problem. The links in that post now dead, & author has no contact point.

    btw if 'all-in-one' like Access means commercial, don't want.

    Do you know of any 'best-of-breed' open-source/free Frontend Forms/Query/Macro builder for open-source RDBMS and/or open-source/free ERD to SQL ?

  9. #9
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    Define "open source" in your eyes. Does that mean free, or does that mean you can download, modify and repackage the source code?

    These are two very, VERY different concepts.
    oh yeah... documentation... I have heard of that.

    *** What Do You Want In The MS Access Forum? ***

  10. #10
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    All in one
    Open Office, the DB offering isn't 'the' best, but its pretty damn good for free

    DB's
    if you want small and free consider SQL Lite or Apache Derby

    Front end
    lots of choices out there, could be open office,
    could be Java, Delphi etc...

    But expect to get what you pay for, and or expect to spend a great deal of time learning to develop in Java
    I'd rather be riding on the Tiger 800 or the Norton

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by healdem View Post
    All in one
    Open Office, the DB offering isn't 'the' best, but its pretty damn good for free

    DB's
    if you want small and free consider SQL Lite or Apache Derby

    Front end
    lots of choices out there, could be open office,
    could be Java, Delphi etc...

    But expect to get what you pay for, and or expect to spend a great deal of time learning to develop in Java
    - if you look at my earlier post, apart from it being a big footprint office-suite a bit OTT for my Nettop, you will see I read it has a number of problems, and has not been significantly developed since Sun had it.

    DB's
    -I said I provisionally selected HSQLDB on account of its close adherance to ANSI SQL Standards & small footprint. SQL Lite is small but not full-feature.

    Front end
    - I spent some time following up on your Delphi lead. From the Wikipedia entry, Delphi has had a long and tortuous history since its notoriously non-Standard Turbo Pascal of the 1980's. It is NOT listed in Wikipedia's 'Comparison of Database Tools' - only the current owner's DBArtisan - but that, and all other of embarcadero's db products are commercial - no open-source or even a Community Edition - which my original post requires.
    Have you a link to a free Delphi Frontend that can either build Forms or allow drawing ERD's with validation and generation of SQL code ?

    But expect to get what you pay for, and or .....
    - your second reference to price and well-used phrase outside open-source: I used to use commercial software 20+ years ago, hence my experience of the sophisticated Forms builder in Access2, which didn't need rest of the office-suite as it was self-contained in Access, rather than Open Office' requiring their full WP App to provide Forms' building. I tried various commercial Drawing Programs until I came across open-source INKSCAPE, and am delighted with it, as it's far superior to commercial products tried before, and met every requirement until now, when I find it has no plugin for making the more specialised ERD models with need for ERD validation and SQL generation.

    Has anyone had experience of using, or know if the free 'Druid' and/or Toad Data Modeler-Community Edition can do ERD to SQL for HSQLDB ?

    Thanks for all your inputs.

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by papadi View Post
    Thanks for that, but that is 'reverse-engineering'; I am starting from a completely blank slate: a) a db design from scratch, and b) looking for 'best-of-breed' free RDBMS engine & necessary Frontend Forms-designer and ERD-to-SQL code tools.

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