automatic document production

John Palmer johnp at
Mon Feb 4 10:10:02 CET 2002

On Tue, 29 Jan 2002, Peter Kravanja <Peter.Kravanja at>

> I'm facing the following problem. An association has about 700 members and 
> keeps information about them (name, address, language skills, hobbies,...)
> in a database. Once a year this association wants to produce a book with
> all this information, to be published and distributed to the members.
> How can this be done in an efficient way? Does anyone know of some sort of 
> interface between a database (which format??) and (La)TeX, so that with a 
> few commands the relevant data gets extracted from the database and turned 
> into a file that (La)TeX can process?

Your data-set is small, so you don't need the facilities that database 
systems provide for indexing and rapidly searching large bodies of data.
Indeed you say that your intention is to print the whole set rather than
to select subsets.

I would start with perl ( which will give you all the
facilities you need for transforming a list of members into LaTeX code.  
Once you have that, you are quite likely not to need a real database
management system, since 
 --your data-set is rather small;
 --you intend to process it as a whole rather than selectively.

A DBMS does of course impose some discipline on the data which can make
the perl programming easier; but in this case the benefits wouldn't (imho)  
justify spending a lot of effort, still less money, on acquiring a DBMS.

Sorting the items into (alphabetical?) order can be done using either perl
facilities or a utility sort program, so you don't need a DBMS for that

If you really feel you need a DBMS there are public licence, open source
DBMS like MySql (

John Palmer
4 Horyford Close, Preston, Weymouth DT3 6DJ, England
telephone: +44 1305 832240 office, 835410 domestic (same address)
e-mail:  johnp at (plain text preferred)

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