This page was last updated 21 December 2005.

JPEG screen shot


xmbase-grok - Desktop Database

The current version is 1.5.


(Note that xmbase-grok began life as grok, but it turned out that a fuzzy grep utility with that name beat me by a few months, and nobody seemed to get the reference anyway. The new name is more descriptive, I hope.)

Program Description

xmbase-grok is a simple X/Motif database manager and user interface builder that can - More precisely, xmbase-grok is a program for displaying and editing strings arranged in a grid of rows and columns. Each row is presented as a card consisting of multiple columns, or fields, that allow data entry. The presentation of the data is programmable; a user interface builder that allows the user to arrange fields on a card graphically is part of xmbase-grok. xmbase-grok also supports a simple language that allows sophisticated queries and data retrieval. xmbase-grok comes with the above examples and a few others as pre-built applications.

xmbase-grok is not a general-purpose database program. It was designed for small applications typical for desktop accessories. If you attempt to run your major airline reservation system or your space shuttle project with it, you are guaranteed to be disappointed. (To my great amusement, a manager at NASA involved in the shuttle project has told me that he does use xmbase-grok, successfully.)

System Requirements

xmbase-grok compiles and runs on anything that has Motif. At this time, X11R5 will do, but Motif 1.2 is required. Also, the source needs an ANSI C compiler, a K&R compiler will not work. To compile xmbase-grok, Motif libraries are required; however, if static linking is used the resulting binary can be run on non-Motif systems. Dave Johnson, who makes the static Linux binaries, makes it available at There is no way to compile or even port xmbase-grok to OpenLook or Athena. Supported systems include SGI, HP, Sun, and Linux. xmbase-grok supports both an Imakefile and a standard Makefile, because an astonishing number of systems fail to include xmkmf and imake. Did I say before that everybody ought to own a Silicon Graphics machine? xmbase-grok comes with extensive online help and a PostScript manual, including TeX sources for the manual.

FTP sites

The official FTP sites are: The archive is normally compressed with GNU gzip and is about 230 KB. Most ftp servers also allow retrieval of a compressed file, which takes about 360 KB. The distribution is 900 KB uncompressed.

Bug Reporting

Please send bug reports or ideas for new features to me, at Since I get quite a lot of mail, please be patient, I am not very good at replying quickly... Also note although I appreciate new ideas and still actively enhance grok, I throw out more ideas than I accept because I avoid creeping featurism, which kills program faster than neglect.


Change History

Only recent changes are listed with details, intended for finding out whether a bug has already been fixed and your copy should be upgraded.

Note: it appears that spammers have trawled one of my pages for email addresses. Hence, all email addresses have been obscured: replace at with @, and colons with dots.

Tell me if you found this information interesting or useful, or if you have comments.