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Real world application

 
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PaulR
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 4:37 am    Post subject: Real world application Reply with quote

New OpenOffice user here Smile , mightily impressed with what I've seen so far but wonder if this program/suite can do something to save me time ...

We're a retail business and do a quarterly stocktake. The data for this comes from a Paradox or DBase database which, since we don't have a fancy report designer or database front end, then gets pasted into a speadsheet and formatted into two 'columns' (i.e. newspaper style columns not spreadsheet columns!) with empty boxes added to each product for manual entry of stock quantities when the thing is printed.

This is a time consuming operation and wonder whether there is a quick way to achieve this in OO? (Double 'column' format is essential for conserving paper - we have a lot of products and a lot of branches Smile )

TIA
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JohnV
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes this can be done. Try the following.

Open Calc and in cell A1 enter 1 then click out of the cell and back in. Click on the lower right corner on the "cross hair" and drag down about 150 rows which should produce 1-150 to represent products. Save as a dBase file and note the directory where you save the file.

Open a Writer doc and register the file's directory as a dBase data source using Tools > Data Sources.

Format your page with 2 columns and the press F4 to view the Database Explorer. Open the new data source so the numbers show on the right.

Click the gray box at the upper left of the numbers so all records are selected. Click the Data to Text icon (4th from the right above the numbers). Put the bullet in Text. Below that on the Left you will have one item, probably N1, move it to the right with the [ > ] icon. Click OK and the "products" will flow to your columns. Press F4 again to close the db explorer.

Now for your boxes. With the cursor in the left column do Insert > Frame, move the frame to either the upper right or left corner and then pull its bottom down to the bottom of the page and push or pull its side to the width you want your boxes. Do Format > Frame > Borders tab and set the Spacing to Contents item to zero.

Click back in the page, click into the right column and repeat the above procedure.

Now the tricky part. Click into the left frame and do Insert > Table. Set columns to 1 and leave rows at 2. Uncheck the Header item and click OK. Now you have two boxes that are too big for the first two items. There are several things you could do to solve this but we will just adjust the row size. Select both rows, right click, select Row > Height. Take the check out of Fit to size and set the height to about 18 or 19. If It looks like a good fit then put your cursor in the bottom row and hit the tab key until you reach the next to last item. Repeat on the other side.

Click the border of one of the frames so it is selected, right click and Copy. Move into the same column on the second page, right click and Paste. Repeat with the other frame. (Watch the Code Snippets section for my macro that will automatically copy frames to all pages of your doc.)

As a professed Newbie some of the steps outlined above may require you to use the Help item but you should be able to make this work with a little effort. If you get into trouble just remember that Ctrl+Z will undo almost anything.
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dfrench
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great stuff, John.
I saw the 'hard bit' of the requirement as being the formatting for double column printing which JohnV handles elegantly. That problem goes away completely if you have a printer that will do it for you (and even the humble Canon S600 does). In that case a simple report from a defined data source will do the trick.
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JohnV
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks David,

I suspect there are several approaches to this one. I just went for the first one to come to mind.
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PaulR
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John, thank you for that very helpful reply! Your instructions were very precise - I didn't need to refer to help and only needed one 'undo' during the whole process.

The only part that seems a bit hit and miss is the table sizing - we had a similar problem some years back with a report writer which is one of the reasons we stopped using it. I need to have a good play with this and see how it will handle multiple fields - ideally I'd like to have boxes drawn around the product, it's price, 'department' code and empty box for filling.

It seems to me that the facility to automatically put a spreadsheet into two or more columns would be a great feature, maybe I'll post to that effect in that forum... Smile

Thanks again guys.
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PaulR
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

10 minutes later...

I used the Report AutoPilot with my original dBase table as the datasource. I included a field that didn't need to be in the final report and was able to delete the contents of that field in the report to leave an empty box. I chose the align left border style for the report and then formatted the page to two columns - job done!
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JohnV
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the way you melded two ideas to come up with your solution. As has been said, I love it when a plan comes together.

On the theory that the Report Writer simply implements features otherwise available to the user, I did the following to mimic your solution. I edited my dBase file in Calc and added a field named Quantity with no values. Saved back to dBase and open a new Writer doc.

Set the page to 2 columns, opened the table, selected all records and clicked Data to Text. This time I put the bullet in Table and moved the Quantity and Product items to the right and clicked OK.

With my cursor in the resulting table I did Format > Table, on the Column tab I adjusted the column sizes and on the Border tab changed the borders. BTW the borders can be changed for the whole table or just selected cells.
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PaulR
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This program gets better the more I use it - following your example I see Calc handles dBase files so much better than Excel.

Just a quick question on formatting table cells (since you mentioned it Smile ) - is it possible to set the background color of individual cells in a table such that the entire cell is colored rather than just text background? Can't see any obvious way to do this unless I somehow use html???

TIA
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JohnV
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Select the desired cells and use the rightmost paintbucket icon on the Object bar or Format > Table > Background tab.
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