Abiword report generator [was Re: Dynamic data queries]

On Fri, Mar 05, 2004 at 03:04:15PM +1300, Dru was heard to remark:
> openoffice.org - ms office copy cat approach. I dont see open office 
> team been able to easily create a ms access replacement and i'd prefer 
> them to improve other parts of openoffice.

A couple of remarks:
-- MS look-alike can be a big mistake. For example, I like eveolution,
   but they managed to copy some real cruddy parts, like the to-do list. 
   Parts that MS itself will no-doubt ditch in the next version ... 

MS Access has some serious problems that should not be copied. There
are high-end apps from e.g. Oracle that work much more nicely than
MS Access.  There is also Lotus Notes. 

> Ie. dwi, bond and gnomedb use glade as a common forms designer while 

The Lotus Notes forms designer is like a smash-up between AbiWord and 
Glade. You can place any button, widget, etc. anywhere in a document
that has arbitrary text formatting, margins, fonts, etc.  Today, 
we have this kind of ability in HTML (you can place an HTML FROM
anywhere on a web page; hell you can even use javascript in a web 
page) but we still don't have that in abiword. 

(One of the great Lotus Notes emails was the infamous job satisfaction
survey.  The question "Are you satisfied with your job?"  Two buttons
you could push to answer: the Yes button, and the No button, which
would skitter and jump out of the way every time you tried to position
your mouse anywhere near it.)

The point is that these emails were live documents, and the buttons 
were live, and they were connected to a remote database somwehere,
where user responses were tallied.  We're not there yet.

> maybe sharing same reporting engine will also 
> help all the projects along.

I'm concerned about the idea that the report generator is somehow 
an off-line batch processor.  Take a look at the gnomedb report
generator: it creates XML, good lord! With header and footer and 
colors! I'm sorry, but that is sooo wrong.

Reports need to be thought of as the other half of forms.  A "form"
is a document where the use is queried for info.  For example,
the google home page is a "form".  A "report" is how data returned
from the database is presented to the user. For example, the 
result of a google search is a "report".

Sometimes, "reports" are visually merged with "forms".  For example,
suppose you search for bugzilla bug 123.   You see a "report" of bug
123, but that "report" is also a "form" which allows you to make 
modifications to bug 123.

My point being that you could never build something like bugzilla
from the the gnomedb report generator (and if I'm wrong, then 
I grossly misunderstand the gnomedb reports).  The output of
a report generator must be targeted to the same interface as
the forms designer.  In the case of dwi (and bond), this target 
is the glade widgets, although I argue here that it should also 
be a live AbiWord document.  A report that is a static 
post-processed Abiword document is useless. 

pub  1024D/01045933 2001-02-01 Linas Vepstas (Labas!) <linas linas org>
PGP Key fingerprint = 8305 2521 6000 0B5E 8984  3F54 64A9 9A82 0104 5933

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