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From: Vikas Rawal <vikasrawal@gmail.com>
To: Bastien <bzg@gnu.org>
Cc: org-mode mailing list <emacs-orgmode@gnu.org>,
	"Jose E. Marchesi" <jemarch@gnu.org>
Subject: Re: Exploring properties
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2020 08:28:47 +0530	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <20200225025847.hy7k7a3zqvh5wjgm@rewasi> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <87pne4z8dk.fsf@gnu.org>

I don't know if this is useful. But this is what I could come up with. This might at least motivate somebody to think of other possible advantages/uses of building org-mode capabilities to interact with databases.



Feature request: To build tools to facilitate using org-mode as a front-end for interacting with a database.

The idea would be to use org-mode to select, insert and update records in a database. It is natural to think of recutils, a plain text database, as the database backend. But a more generalised solution may allow other choices of databases. With a text-based database backend like recutils, we could harness a version control system like git to semi-automate collaboraion.

Why would one use org-mode for creating a database application? One can think of many advantages. But the biggest advantage (to me) would be that, in this setup, a multi-user database application can work without constant internet connectivity. You can query recutils files, insert/update records, and then let git deal with synchronisation across the team members.

There are other advantages as well. We do not yet have a text-based, easy-to-deploy database application system. Recutils provides the infrastructure for a backend. But we do not have a fully-developed front-end system to interact with recutils. Org-mode is clearly best placed to provide the frontend for working with recutils.

Needless to say, this would be particularly interesting to members of the org-mode/emacs fan-club. Over the last few years, org-mode has come to be used for many tasks that go way beyond what Carsten had in mind when he first built org-mode. From web-publishing to writing books, org-mode provides excellent tools. Being able to create and use databases from within org-mode would be a very useful addition to this toolkit.

We already have tools that can be used to read data from recutils (and other databases) and create reports in org-mode. The missing feature is to be able to use org-mode to create/update records systemmatically.

There are two possibilities here: to use org-mode tables or org-mode properties to interact with the database. The advantage of doing this using the org-mode properties is that the column-view of properties provides an easy to use interface for entering data. There is already a mechanism for defining "Allowed" values for any field which speeds up data entry and helps avoid typing errors.

There are several challenges. Some of these are:

1. Extending "Allowed" values to specify type of data that can be recorded (numeric, char) or range of values.
2. How to deal with relationships/foreign keys. Can property inheritance be used to deal with at least simple foreign key constraints?
3. Org-mode macros provide {{{property(PROPERTYNAME)}}} syntax for macro replacement during export. But nothing as simple as this is available for use in source code blocks. Something like this would allow using some code to add/update records in a database. We should perhaps build on the property API or org-ql for creating something like this.

If we can resolve some of these and creating a simple application for demonstration, it might help in showing the potential and identifying other challenges.

On Mon, Feb 24, 2020 at 09:39:51AM +0100, Bastien wrote:
> Hi Vikas,
> Vikas Rawal <vikasrawal@gmail.com> writes:
> > I am essentially thinking of org-mode providing an
> > interface for feeding data to recutils.
> Yes, that would probably be useful.
> If you want to write a feature request, please write it as if the
> reader does not know recutils and you precise use-case, so that we
> understand all implication and motivate possible contributors.
> Thanks,
> --
>  Bastien

  reply	other threads:[~2020-02-25  3:00 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 10+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2020-02-23  3:42 Exploring properties Vikas Rawal
2020-02-23  9:35 ` Bastien
2020-02-23 13:20   ` Vikas Rawal
2020-02-23 13:40     ` John Kitchin
2020-02-23 13:21   ` Vikas Rawal
2020-02-23 13:40     ` Bastien
2020-02-24  4:12       ` Vikas Rawal
2020-02-24  8:39         ` Bastien
2020-02-25  2:58           ` Vikas Rawal [this message]
2020-02-25 13:35             ` John Kitchin

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