OOo Basic crash course: Creating a simple application launcher

In previous installments of the crash course, you've learned how to build a simple basket tool, a task manager, and even a word game. This time, let's take a look at how you can use the skills you picked up from those exercises to create a simple application launcher, which will allow you to start virtually any application without leaving the convenience of OpenOffice.org. While working on this project, you'll learn how to create and use functions, handle errors, and how to populate list boxes using records from a database table.

The first order of business is to create a simple OpenOffice.org Base database with a table called applaunch containing three fields: ID (primary key), AppName to store applications' names, and AppPath to store paths to applications' binaries (e.g. C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe on Windows, or simply Firefox on Linux). Since the application launcher pulls the data from the created database, the first thing the macro has to do is to create a connection to it. By now, you can probably do this with your eyes closed, but this time let's try something different. As any programming language worth its salt, OpenOffice.org Basic allows you to create functions that can save you a lot of typing and make your programs more efficient and easy to manage. A function is basically a mini program that usually performs just one action. For example, when called, the following function displays a "Hello world!" message box: