Using Forms in Writer
Template:Documentation/BeingEdited This is Chapter 15 of the OpenOffice.org 3 Writer Guide, produced by the OOoAuthors group. A PDF of this chapter is available from this wiki page. The PDFs are up to date for the second edition of the book, but not all of the wiki pages for this chapter have been updated yet.
This chapter covers the use of forms within Writer documents. Most of the information here also applies to forms in other OpenOffice.org components, but there are some differences.
The chapter presents information on using forms in four main sections: setting up a basic form, an example for creating a form, linking a form to a data source and finally some advanced techniques.
OpenOffice.org forms cover a lot of ground and not everything is included here. Notable omissions are using forms in HTML documents and writing macros to link to form controls.
When to use forms
A standard text document displays information: a letter, report or brochure, for example. Typically the reader may edit everything or nothing in any way. A form has sections that are not to be edited, and other sections that are designed for the reader to make changes. For example, a questionnaire has an introduction and questions (which do not change) and spaces for the reader to enter answers.
OpenOffice.org offers several ways to fill information into a form, including check boxes, option buttons, text boxes, pull-down lists and spinners.
Forms are used in three ways:
- To create a simple document for the recipient to complete, such as a questionnaire sent out to a group of people who fill it in and return it.
- To link into a database or data source and allow the user to enter information. Someone taking orders might enter the information for each order into a database using a form.
- To view information held in a database or data source. A librarian might call up information about books.
Using forms to access a database offers a fast and easy way to build up complex graphical front ends. Your form can include not only the fields that link up to the data source but also text, graphics, tables, drawings and other elements.
Alternatives to using forms in Writer
In OpenOffice.org 3, the Base component provides an alternative way to access a data source. There are a lot of similarities between forms in Base and Writer, but one may be better for a particular task than the other. Base is appropriate only if the form accesses a data source; you would not use it for simple forms.
Most other OpenOffice.org components—Calc, Impress, and Draw—also support forms in almost the same way that Writer does.
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