Since 2006, we’ve had a MySQL database that automatically makes our charts and helps us decide who is going to work in the nursery during set up and who will be the clean up chief. But brilliant Jacob who has since graduated college and gotten a job as a programmer, didn’t have time to maintain it. It had a few difficulties, mostly with data entry interface, but also a little with initial constraints. Dan was always leery that we had sensitive data right there on a website, so he urged me to take it off line. (It’s still a little bit online, I used a Google Docs to collect everything, but at least that’s not completely home-brew).
This summer I decided that I’d learn Libreoffice Base, and if it didn’t work out, use the MySQL version we already had. Heidi came over with her boys and we took turns with the FrugalComputerGuy’s tutorials and trying to make the data base work.
We had the data entered and normalized, but it took a while to make a class chart – I’m still not great at formatting the reports, but my big breakthrough today was learning to use a left outer join on two tables, so that all of one set was included in the query. I didn’t think I’d need to know my left from right to do this (that makes writing knitting patterns hard too, but writing patterns is making me better at knowing left and right – somewhat, I still have to think about it.) I also didn’t know there would be a smidge of set theory. What books we have assume you will be working in Java or php (I only know a wee bit of php) and that someone else in the office will be doing the formatting.
Unfortunately I am my secretary.
So, it’s way easier to enter the data, but the charts are not created automatically. But I’m happy about my left outer join, so I’ll count it as a net gain.