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Regarding the "interface to the big irons":
Base can not handle arrays field types.
Base can not handle binary field types. It crashes (possibly losing the
embedded database) when you load a form with many records having
pictures ("normal" size as in typical photos).
Form grids become unusable when you load some thousand records from a
calculated record set.

All sorts of arbitrary complicated filtering can be done by means of
filter forms bound to filter tables (search the AOO forum for the term
"power filtering"). Since many years this has been a nice but clumsy
work-around for all Base users. It lets you implement a desparately
missing feature on your own. It lets you enter filter criteria (contrary
to table data) directly into your form.
Personally, I find the built-in "form based filter" not too bad.
Indeed, macros are not an option. Writing macros is highly unproductive.
The useful ones are contained in the "Access2Base" extension.

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