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Background:

A friend of mine wants to upgrade his computer. He is using an old proprietary tool to manage his clients files and agenda. This tool won't work on a modern OS, he could emulate or virtualise it, but he was never fully satisfied with it. He did not find any software one the market that fits his needs, having some time for a side project he would like to develop his own database. He does not have any programming skills (yet). The data filled in the proprietary software is easily exported as XML files. He would like this new tool to be platform independent.

So, what tool would be best to build a cross-platform client database software with a linked agenda ?

So far I advised him to have a look to Opennoffice.org's Base module, because it fits his skill set.

As he does not need a server running, I would advise against a PHP/MySQL solution, mainly for security reasons (I know it's easy to secure, but he would have to also learn about security).

I would personally get this project done with python and sqlite (adding to the mix wxpython for the looks and sqlalchemy for my SQL allergy), but I fear that he doesn't have enough time for this project to acquire some coding skills in the process.

As a side question, is there some nice resources introducing databases concepts to beginners?

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Would you mind sharing the name of the tool..That will help to recommend a solution –  kishore Oct 22 '09 at 16:59
    
@kishore: I would if i remembered its name, he only demoed it quickly to me, and i just checked that the data was easily extracted from it. I will ask him the next time I see him. It's a small french patient-management tool aimed at osteopaths, that's all i can tell you for now - thanks –  avelldiroll Oct 22 '09 at 17:06

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Not quite sure I'm clear on exactly what you mean by 'linked agenda', but this sounds weel within the capabilities of OpenOffice. If it's in you're friends skill set, it's a good choice - especially if not willing to learn something new & time is short.

If you're friend could learn (or be willing to learn) Tcl, Python or Ruby, I think these are also good choices. They all have excellent docs / examples available on the web, can produce UI quickly & easily (depending on how you feel about 'easy') and have libraries available to make database access relatively painless. Although unless you're willing to provide some encouragement, this is not a project I would throw at someone who has never programmed before.

However they choose to proceed, you'll likely be writing some SQL eventually. Regarding some decent simple tutorials & resources:

  1. This is an easy to read introduction on database concepts, if you like a conversational style.
  2. Geekgirls has a nice generic database tutorial that is pretty application / technology neutral.
  3. W3 Schools has a good, not too deep SQL Tutorial & Quiz

If your friend is serious about this topic, they should get a book that covers the tools and language they end up using. As far as SQL, the O'Reilly Learning SQL and Head First SQL are good beginner books. I like the informal visual style Head First uses, but YMMV.

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@DaveParillo: Thanks for your answer. I was meaning by 'linked agenda' either an agenda inside the new tool either a capacity to export event to a calendar application. I was mainly posting this to know if I missed a tool like "database-made-supa-easy-for-beginners"(fictional), but your answer seems to confirm what I thought. Thanks for the links, that's what I was searching for. I too appreciate O'Reilly collection of computing book :) –  avelldiroll Oct 24 '09 at 14:37

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