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[O] Org-mode to feed a database

From: Vikas Rawal
Subject: [O] Org-mode to feed a database
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2014 07:31:57 +0530

This is, in all likelihood, a crazy idea. Please excuse me for that.

I often need to get a number of people enter complex survey data into a 
database using some kind of forms. The forms I need are fairly complex (with 
several nested grids, for example). I need radio-buttons and drop-down 

I was thinking if it would be worth it to use Org-mode for data entry.

The idea would be something like this. We have a template org file that is 
copied for each survey respondent. The template contains “blank” org tables and 
some source blocks. Responses are filled into the org tables, and then the 
source blocks are evaluated to feed the data into the database. You can 
version-control the whole thing so that different people can create these 
records and push it to a centralised git repository.

Has anyone done anything like this? What has been the experience?

There are two aspects that immediately come to my mind.

1. Is org adequately feature rich for such a scenario? There are two concerns I 
can think of right now. 
   1.1 Would feeding information from one Org table to another become too 
   1.2 Is there a way to build in tab-completion for columns in Org-table using 
pre-specified categories? 

2. In my case, people who would enter the data into org files would not have 
used emacs before. So, there is a learning curve. Is it worth it? Or should one 
just build a web-based graphic application for such people to use?


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