Office suite a misnomer?

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Office suite a misnomer?

Postby johnhudson » Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:50 pm

I enjoyed the roundup of office suites which I thought was thorough and balanced. However, it got me thinking.

The three key modules suggested - word-processing, spreadsheets and presentations - make them managers' or academics' suites, not an office worker's suite.

A true office suite would have a decent database and none of them come with that. I certainly could not do most of my office work without a database.

Also one of the features that made me love Linux from the start was an easy to use vector graphics package because a lot of the documentation I was producing needed vector graphics illustrations. But none of the suites has an easy to use or well integrated vector graphics program.

Yes I do create presentations but I use databases and vector graphics far more than I ever use presentations.
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Postby dandnsmith » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:34 am

I can appreciate the thrust of your argument - but a lot of people wouldn't agree, as they expect the 'ordinary office worker' to be able to produce presentations, and a proper database tool would be wasted.

For a lot of people, a spreadsheet comprises all they need for database work - I've seen some very intricate stuff done with the likes of Excel - and they wouldn't know where to start with a more involved tool.

At one stage there was a Microsoft Office product being sold as a Schools package, and thoroughly agreed with some nearby teachers commenting that it wasn't a proper product without Excel, as that was what they were expect to teach, along with Word.
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Postby ajgreeny » Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:08 am

I am interested to know what sort of database requirement you have that particularly needs a database application rather than a spreadsheet, which I agree with dandnsmith, is normally more than enough for probably 99% of all users.

I have been using office suites for far too many years having started with the original MS Works (if you could call that a suite) then moving on to one of the original MS Office versions. When I first had my own computer as opposed to a work machine, it came with Lotus Smartsuite, then I moved on to OOo, and finally LO.

MS Office, Lotus SS, OOo and LO all have databases, or did in my versions, but never once did I need to use that part of the suite. I did try out the database application of most of them a few times, just to see if I was missing anything, but quickly realised it was overkill for me and the uses I would have for the suite.
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Postby towy71 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:32 pm

The version of LibreOffice on my installation has Base which looks to me like a database with SQL queries and everything ;-)
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:30 pm

For that matter, only the more expensive "professional" versions of MS office come with Access.
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Postby johnhudson » Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:16 pm

In the 1980s and 1990s I used dBASE for accounts, contacts, including address lists relating to a number of organisations, a diary, books, journals and booklists, keeping track of jobs and handouts.

I didn't go down the spreadsheet route because cell size was too small and also because the dBASE query language was, even in its early versions, so much more sophisticated than anything available in spreadsheets.

The other advantage was that dBASE was so integrated with WordStar it was easy to pull data out of dBASE tables to include in documents.

Since moving to Linux I have adopted KMyMoney for accounts, BibTeX for books and journals and mysql for everything else, not least because it was able to inport my dBASE tables after minimal editing.

I have often heard spreadsheets lauded as databases but I have yet to come across an example able to provide the sort of straightforward searches which were built into dBASE without extensive programming.

My cynical view is that MS promoted Excel as a database because it has never had a decent one and people have swallowed this argument.

For example my local church was using horribly conplex spreadsheets and was recommended a wholly unsuitable proprietary accounting program before I finally managed to get them to adopt GNUcash - the Treasurer is delighted with it because it lets her do the sorts of breakdowns and analyses no spreadsheet could do.
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Office Suites - Database

Postby hilly » Tue Mar 05, 2013 6:52 am

I must say I am generally in agreement with johnhudson here in that Spreadsheets really do have quite a few shortcomings if they are utilised for serious data tables with numerous reporting requirements. A few years back I was required to knock up a quick fix database as the old Vax system had been discontinued and the facility reporting requirements could no longer be done with the existing app. So on the advice from the IT Gurus I utilised Excel to set up a database to suit - thus saving the cost of supplying Access (understandable in one way as it was then a pain for use on Networks - unsure if still the case). I did end up setting up a database with Excel which did what was required at the time to fulfil all recording and reporting, at that point.

Forward 12 months and the data tables were becoming huge and the whole system was getting very slow and also the reports required continual changing for various reasons, which if they had been done in a true Database application in the first place would have been quite simple to accomplish.

I find that no matter what I do in life, whether it be buy software, buy a vehicle or tools for the yard, it is always better to have a specific tool/whatever for the job rather than a "Jack of All Trades" type of answer.

The problem the USA has at the moment with the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is a perfect case in point. It does quite a few things quite well but none exceptionally well because of compromises. Compromises will end up costing, probably both money and lives.

Database applications are best for databases and Spreadsheet needs are best addressed with Spreadsheets. I for one use LibreOffice these days and love it. I find that the Libreoffice Base application is fine for the databases I need these days as is Kexi for that matter. Remember the old days of Lotus Symphony which was a combined Word Processor, Spreadsheet and Database - I am glad to forget it - again compromises.

If Linux is to continue to grow in use within the commercial environment then we need to market things for what they are. Okay so Microsoft market their MS Office Suite minus Access for the run of the mill offerings, does that mean everyone has to follow Microsoft's lead, I think not. I thought that was one of the brilliant things about the Open Source environment, it is different and quite rightly so. Microsoft are there to get the biggest possible dollar they can for the shareholders, so they probably find it quite a good idea to have Access as an add on.
That is no different to how the new Windows 8 now offers DVD playing as an extra feature payable for on top of the initial MS Windows license cost - so that makes it right obviously?


johnhudson wrote:In the 1980s and 1990s I used dBASE for accounts, contacts, including address lists relating to a number of organisations, a diary, books, journals and booklists, keeping track of jobs and handouts.

I didn't go down the spreadsheet route because cell size was too small and also because the dBASE query language was, even in its early versions, so much more sophisticated than anything available in spreadsheets.

The other advantage was that dBASE was so integrated with WordStar it was easy to pull data out of dBASE tables to include in documents.

Since moving to Linux I have adopted KMyMoney for accounts, BibTeX for books and journals and mysql for everything else, not least because it was able to inport my dBASE tables after minimal editing.

I have often heard spreadsheets lauded as databases but I have yet to come across an example able to provide the sort of straightforward searches which were built into dBASE without extensive programming.

My cynical view is that MS promoted Excel as a database because it has never had a decent one and people have swallowed this argument.

For example my local church was using horribly conplex spreadsheets and was recommended a wholly unsuitable proprietary accounting program before I finally managed to get them to adopt GNUcash - the Treasurer is delighted with it because it lets her do the sorts of breakdowns and analyses no spreadsheet could do.
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