Documentation/OOoAuthors User Manual/Writer Guide/When to use forms

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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. offers several ways to fill information into a form, including checkboxes, 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 version 1.x, forms were the only way to access a data source. In OOo version 2.x, Base—the database component—provides an alternative way to do this. There are a lot of similarities between forms in Base and Writer, but it may be that one is 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.

Note: Most other components—Calc, Impress and Draw—also support forms in almost exactly the same way as Writer does.

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