While spreadsheets are fine for crunching large quantities of numbers, databases are far superior for organizing and using data.
Fort Worth, TX (WiredPRNews.com)—All too often, people use a spreadsheet like a database without realizing it.
While spreadsheets are essential for quickly calculating large pools of numbers, they are not data management tools. By contrast, a database stores and updates data for repeated use. One of the best examples around is Microsoft Access, a relational database program.
While most people already use databases without even knowing it, some are reluctant to build their own because it requires a longer learning curve than a spreadsheet. However, databases are not that complicated when you dig beneath the surface.
Database software is comprised of tables that store data, queries that manipulate data, forms that serve as input portals for data and reports that display finished data. MS Access is one of the most user-friendly ways to set up a database because you can build a database without doing any coding.
For instance, setting up tables, queries and forms can all be done via built-in wizards, which guide the user through every step of the process. However, as you learn more and more about how a database works, the wizards are not necessary.
As most folks know, fields are the slots that store individual pieces of data such as ‘last name,’ ‘first name,’ and ‘address.’ A group of these fields makes a record and what makes that record unique is a number.
This number, which in can be automatically generated in sequential order, is essential to unlocking the power of your database. The unique ID number makes it easy to call up records that you want to alter or see in input forms. Speaking of forms, they can also serve as button-laced switchboards that make navigation around the database easy.
In Access, buttons are usually activated via macros to open or close forms, reports and just about anything else in your database. Macros are another code-free way of making your database do what you want. For more information, try making one if you have MS Access installed on your machine. It is the gold key icon that appears under ‘programs’ when you select the ‘start’ button in the lower left-hand corner.