Need some advice on a self contained form Application w/no internet.

I'm needing to create a simple form application that users can enter information on their computer. The computer might not have internet access so it needs to be client based only.

I'm considering MS Access but is possible to run a MS Access file if the user doesn't have MS Access? I'm considering using OpenOffice Base. Anybody have any input on my thoughts with that? Is there anything else that I'm not thinking of? I did come across SQLite but I don't know what language I could use to create the form that would allow me to input the data.

Just needing some opinions....


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Kelvin SparksCommented:
You must have some form of Access. The Access 2007 runtime would suit what you need (and its free), but you do need a full copy of Access for the development of the Application. The advantage of Access is that It's a complete package that will do all you describe.

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Base is a great tool, actually, and it's totally free to use, and so quick to set up.

You could run a MySql database locally, but it would be a pain to set up and deploy, and it's probably more muscle than you need. (you can run an whole web-server from your local computer, using WAMP Server or similar).

FileMaker Pro is not free, but is a really great tool, especially for forms like you're describing.
Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE )Infotrakker SoftwareCommented:
The real benefit of Access over something like Base is support. There are a HUGE number of Access support forums (like this one), so if you do run into issues, you're more likely to get support with something like Access.

Base is also not multi-user (at least right out of the box), if that is of any importance to you. You can use different relational engines with base (like the Access/Jet database engine, for example), but the page for base lists it as such: "BASE offers the full HSQL relational database engine, configured for single user".

All in all, given that the Access 2007 runtime is freely available, it seems that Access would be the preferred choice.
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>Base is also not multi-user,

Neither is Access unless they have upgraded the engine in MS Office 2007.  Its a file based database and locks for the duration of any user's transaction.  You'll need MSDE (or whatever MS calls the MS SQL Lite these days, ah it's now SQL Compact edition and free: to get true multi-user access to the database.  Although Access, or Base could be configured to connect to that db engine.

AND: support is available even if less widely used than MS Access by a large number.

Multi-user should not be much of an issue if you are talking about <100 users.  They simply are not likely to save their form at the same time and absent some huge development mistake, the transaction will take microseconds anyway.  At worse case, a user might have to click save twice.

Multi-user (not mentioned in the original Q) infers all the users are networked within the company so they can hit that central db (whatever it is).  That of course would be ideal versus trying to collect and merge individual files.  Both MS technologies and OpenOffice work just fine with MySql and the aforementioned SQL Server Compact edition.  MySql has plenty of support here, but most importantly GUI Admin Tools for free, which MS may or may not have these days for the compact edition of MS SQL Server.  (Though they do feel the pressure from open source and probably have something now.)

If the user's are networked, one XP Pro PC will give you IIS and ASP or even Apache and PHP for a local Intranet form which can then write to any of the mentioned databases.  Absent the likelihood of simultaneous transactions a even an .mdb file would work fine in that environment as well.

Even if you decide to move forward with an Access form, I'd use a MySQL or MS SQL Compact edition central db if that is at all possible.

I find it hard to provide a reliable opinion when I have little information. Other than the vague "not connected to the internet" you haven't laid down any requirements at all.
There are a lot of questions to ask/answer if this is going to be a commercially viable piece of software. How many records/users/forms/fields/tables/layouts/hosts/clients/updates/etc/etc/etc.

Or is this just a little utility, one off, that you need to keep track of something?
If you just want down and dirty, don't forget that a bit of javascript, html and saving the data as a structured text file can accomplish quite a bit.
Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE )Infotrakker SoftwareCommented:

Last time I checked, I could connect several different users to an Access database at the same time. Perhaps your definition of multi-user is different from mine.

I didn't say that support for Base was unavailable. I said that support for ACCESS was far more broad and far-reaching. To be clear, by "support" I mean community support (like here, or on other forums).

Yes you can connect several users to access, but that isn't my definition of multi-user. I said as much above with the addition of the caveat on simultaneous transactions, which I even added would not likely rear its ugly head unless there were a lot of simultaneous users.

My suggestion is MS SQL Compact or MySql, neither of which are a desktop db engine but offer true multi-user access.  Avoids any problem with blocking and will likely run much faster.  An Access form could connect to either via a system DSN.

My intent , really was to just point out alternatives, not trying to dismiss other peoples ideas.  There was value in all the prior suggestions.

brihol44Author Commented:
Thanks for all the input... Here's the situation in more detail.

It would be separate users maybe 7 users that are not connected to other users computers or a network. The users may or may not be computer savy so here's my vision...

1. The user gets a cd along with a jump drive. The cd has the following
a. Folder with the MS Access Form App
b. The Access Runtime .exe. app (Since MS Access 2007 has a runtime feature and if the user doesn't have Access they are provided the .exe app to run MS Form apps without having Access on their computers.)
2. The user drags the folder onto the desktop or select location...
3. The user enters the form data and it is all collected within the app/Folder.
4. Once the data has all been entered, the user copies the folder back to jump drive and mails out the data.

If this doesn't seem possible then please let me know. This is how I see the project working but all of you seem very experienced in Access so it's been a good experience...

Kelvin SparksCommented:
OK, Access needs to install, not just a matter of copying a file with a form. If the run-time existed, then theres a single accdb file that you copy in and can be made to open at a given form.
Would a "spreadsheet" form do the same? For "flat file" types of data, these can often do the trick and can have entry forms created.
brihol44Author Commented:
All of those comments were helpful in determining my limits and solutions.

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