Friday, April 25, 2003

Embracing Databases Part III
Let's do IT!

Embracing Databases Part II

Getting organized is the theme to this article topic. Using MS Office tools to get organized at home, work, and PDA's with MS Office compatible software tools while out on the town or just living life to the fullest. Organization is the main focus for databases and spreadsheets, whether you are interested in using databases to manage/maintain your business or the business of living. There is very little philosophical difference. In business as in life the more organized you are the better quality growth experiences you are likely to encounter. Preparation is the ultimate goal of becoming organized.
Knowledge is the end result of being prepared. Good software by definition acknowledges the consistent imperfections of the human existence and assists it to achieve results more efficiently.

The software that is ultimately right for you should be measured in terms of the offering that actually caters to your unique needs in order to get organized and stay that way. When in doubt, start with what is readily available and grow from there. Most likely that is going to be MS Office and that is definitely the best place to start applying software and learning at the same time.

Before we drive off into to the land of business and revenue, I also wanted to follow up with some uses for front-end desktop databases that are geared toward fun things, too. Databases may be use for:

Recipes - including good cocktails!
Photo Images - image urls
Travel information- itineraries and journals
Music sharing - including "meta data" on music (band, year, produced by etc.)
Collections- (music, books, videos) this is a great way to keep track of your purchases and catalog them for serious or passionate collectors
On and Offline Auction information- keeping track of what you have sold or are selling
School Term Papers, Thesis, and Report information

Paper file folders and file folders on your Windows applications both have the quality of getting cluttered in relation to maintaining more than ten items per folder. Folders keep like files on your hard drive organized while numerous folders have nowhere else to go but databases. Another way in which you can keep clutter off your PC hard drive is by transferring files and folders that are intended for long-term storage in databases and saving them to disk as Excel or Access file. Database publishing as it relates to MS tools of course takes you to Front Page.

Publishing tools will at some point become relevant when dealing with certain concepts. For this again if you have MS Office Front Page is another great way to learn about publishing tools while you implement.

The strongest of these reasons to publish information are:

1.When keeping records that must be accessible from any location - there are other methods besides web publishing, but these are still not evolved enough as an absolute solution and web security is becoming increasingly more reliable.

2.When keeping records that you would like others to view, of course is number one reason for developing publishing tools and will always be.

3.When sharing the record keeping responsibilities with other members of the family, group, or business this is a growing area that will one day become synonymous with reason number 2.

4.When the records you are keeping are not "personal" (or intended for total privacy like identification information, account information, and credit card information). Again with increased security improvements even this will one day become an obsolete concern.

For beginners just getting familiar with the idea of using databases for personal organizational tools publishing aspects are not going to be relevant for a while. Still the more you know about what to expect from your spreadsheet or database the more you will be inspired to try it for yourself when the time is right.

Standard database features are: Tables, Queries, Forms/sub-forms generating, reports, and relational capabilities. To note earlier versions of MS Office also have Macros & Modules offerings. These features are slated to be phased out in time, still, if you have them don't be afraid to play around with them to see what they can do. Their replacements will most likely do the same job only better.

Access offers intricate and detail oriented databases requirements in order to gather, store, and build data (information records). These architectural or "building" aspect features are important for over all functionality and time inevitabilities. Ultimately the ability to build on data is what serves to separate the spreadsheets from the databases.

Here are some visuals for Access databases features:

Example 1
Example 2
Example 3
Example 4
Example 5
Example 6
Example 7
Example 8
Example 9

Access is a very aware database system designed to be useful to anyone and everyone. In the interest of acknowledging other database offerings, there are guidelines that should help those interested in one day out growing MS. For example there are standard formats for all database developments known as GADBDP (generally accepted database design practices) so that earthlings will not be let down by being adventurous. Databases are made to perform certain and specific functions by definition and any database software one should elect to use will have: Tables, queries, forms, printing, security and reports capabilities. Relational, editing, and publishing offerings will fall in to a varied area. While Access offers the basic requirements and data organizing, for creating and manipulating tables that contain data in continual row/column format, Table linking and data extraction, linking multiple tables by data relationships to create temporary tables. Query link tables and filters (queries are searches). Access query results are presented in temporary tables called record sets or virtual tables. Meaning that the query results will be presented in an organized virtual manner that duplicates the database itself (nice).

Access can import data (information) and export it to/ from Excel and other Access database files. For its popularity and power Access does deliver all database requirements of a professional relational database management system (RDMS), in addition to front-end development tools for use with client server databases (with MySQL as a standard). 'Expressions' is the term used to calculate values from data.

Access offers extremely functional data entry and editing features as well as presentation requirements in the form of reports that summarize record sets, to scan, view, print, and publish.

Another testament to Access's new user choice reputation is of course, the MS "editor tool bar" everyone has come to love and depend on because well, it gives support and creativity needed for even personal record keeping. Data Entry and Online reading would not be as much fun without it, with Access you don't have to compromise or sacrifice on those tool/features!

Database relationship tables are: 1 to 1 and many to 1 likewise, 1 to many and many to many. Finding and sorting data headings and subheadings/sorting data fields; data may be sorted in tables, queries, forms, and pages. Subheadings may serve as main database data, extensions, or conclusions. Finally, to give the last bit of information needed to begin feeling comfortable using a database, hyperlinks may be used in data fields as data entry. This is good in areas where you data (information) that you are keeping is already published somewhere on the web. It is still entirely possible to be web savvy and new to software uses like Access and Excel especially for personally record keeping.

MS Office tools before XP are not necessarily aesthetically attractive, but, they are highly powerful, efficient, and the most reliable. This is especially good to realize for those who are inexperienced and are not clear about what to expect from a database or spreadsheet. Certainly, the answer is nothing less than what MS has set the standard for!

A couple of quick thoughts to end Part III and get your ready to round out Part IV for business applications discussions, since I already have your attention and you now know not only what a database is good for but how it can start doing you some good. Here it goes:

1.In case you were wondering, database tables may relate to each other for personal use like connecting a Contact Database with To Do Table and Notes Index: ex. "Aunt Sheryl" as a query could produce: Aunt Sheryl's phone number and address, connected to notes for Aunt Sheryl's birthday reminder, connected to "To Do List" for buy Aunt Sheryl roses have them delivered to her house.

2..CSV file extension is important (CSV = Comma separated value) just so you know. This file extension type is very important, as it's the most popular type presently used for saving files to be transferred, transmitted, or opened with regard to spreadsheets (excel), email (outlook, Yahoo, and more), and PDA applications. This is the key extension as of the present 2003 being used to connect data to different software applications and hardware ports.

3.How to create a database; Access offers Wizards or you may choose to create your own. Using the wizard once or twice and you should be able to create your "own" customized database. Access keeps Data field naming, data types, and subtypes fairly intuitive. Naming fields for example: 'First Name or Last Name', data types are text, currency, hyperlinked, or numeric, when in doubt select text. Finally, choosing the number of columns you will need is fairly 'straight forward' with the wizard so play around with it extensively before building them alone and remember the goal of getting organized is to be prepared. So, be prepared to create a customized database before you actually have to build one!


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