AV EcoSystem Review Old School Progress

7 Dec 2017


So I’m pretty far from reviewing the AV ecosystem here. I’m devoting my blog driven development this week to making progress on the Anthony Powell Society membership database. It’s old school in that I’m using LibreOffice Base, which is an open source version of MS Access. I used to teach a course on MS Access and Excel back at HPU and it’s that experience that puts me in a position to deliver on the Anthony Powell Society project. The APSoc have eschewed a cloud based membership database as they don’t believe their members would make use of an online offering, and don’t want to get locked in to some particular cloud offering.

They’d been managing their membership database using Lotus Approach for many years, and one of the big advantages there was the WYSIWYG interface that allowed the secretary to tinker with the forms and relationships in the system without having to be a hard core programmer. Lotus Approach has been sunsetted and so I’m currently replicating the entire system for them in LibreOffice Base. I had a reply to my query on the ask.libreoffice.org site about formatting breaking the list box dropdown. Although it doesn’t fix the issue it is good to see that the community is responsive.

No one seems to know how to change the default font in Base but I need to kick on since I’ve promised mock ups of the forms for the APSoc for tomorrow. What’s annoying is how slowly Base runs on my computer - I did do a restart the other day, hmmm.

So LibreOffice crashes a couple of times and I lose 10 minutes of work, although I do work out how to change the background color and so make the Member Information form look more and more like the original from Lotus Approach:

I also accidentally disconnect the form from the data source and have a few frantic moments getting it connected back up. I’m thinking that I need to email the client to work out some of the more esoteric elements in the form that I haven’t added yet, but actually I see their detailed documentation includes exactly what we need there, so hopefully a good 90 minutes tomorrow and I can have mockups of at least the main form, if not the “Subscription Paid”, “Gift Aid Declarations” and “Standing Order Details” pages, which are simpler, but do include table embedding that I haven’t done yet …

So slow going, and it’s frustrating that most Premium members probably won’t be interested in this project as it’s not really using the latest tech. I think it’s a wonderful example of adapting to the needs of the client, and it’s good food for thought for our own membership/subscription model, but not many other synergies emerging here …

by Sam Joseph