May 09

Microsoft Access Database Architecture: Taking Time into Account and Shadow Tables


When designing an application and its tables, it’s very important to capture the time dimension and determine how data should be stored with the expectation that it will change over time. While there’s a natural tendency to keep data normalized so that the same information is stored in only one place, the time dimension also needs to be considered.

  • What Needs to be Preserved Over Time?
  • Making Sure Data Normalization Doesn’t Lose Historical Data
  • Shadow Tables

For more details, read our paper: Microsoft Access Database Architecture: Taking Time into Account and Shadow Tables

Additional papers and resources in our Microsoft Access Developer and VBA Programming Help Center

May 01

Microsoft Access Database Architecture: Storing Temporary Data and User Settings

Read our new paper on:

Microsoft Access Database Architecture: Storing Temporary Data and User Settings

There are many things a user does with an application that need to be preserved either during processing, between screens, between sessions, or between application updates/versions. When designing a system, it’s important to consider what needs to be kept and where/how to do this. If designed properly, the data should also support multi-user environments.

Problem

Users are commonly annoyed to be forced to re-enter their last specifications when the application should start with that as its default. After all, a computer is supposed to be good at remembering things, right?

Solutions

There are several ways to preserve user information during a session, on a PC, and/or between PCs:

  • Keeping Selections in Memory for the Current Session
  • Using the Registry to Store User Information Between Sessions
  • Using Private Tables to Store Information Between Sessions
  • Making Sure Previous Values Remain Valid

Read the paper for more details and tips.

Apr 23

Microsoft Access versus Microsoft Excel for Data Analysis and Reporting

Microsoft ExcelMicrosoft AccessChoosing Between
Spreadsheets and Databases

We are often asked by Microsoft Office power users whether, why, and when they should use Microsoft Access versus Microsoft Excel. Especially when they are very comfortable using MS Excel and don’t understand the reasons why anyone would use MS Access or databases. We’ve written a new paper that describes the issues in detail:

  • How Microsoft Access and Excel Empower Information Workers
  • Advantages of Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets
  • Disadvantages of Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets
  • Advantages of Microsoft Access and Databases
  • Disadvantages of Microsoft Access
  • How they Should Work Together

Paper: Microsoft Access versus Microsoft Excel for Data Analysis and Reporting (Spreadsheets vs. Databases)

Feb 13

Transposing Data in Microsoft Access Tables and Data Normalization

Microsoft AccessMicrosoft SQL ServerData normalization is fundamental to database design. Properly normalized data makes it easy to support an application over time and simplifies the querying, displaying, and reporting features of an application. 

Unfortunately, we don’t always receive or have normalized data. Tables that require adding fields as the data changes over time are particularly problematic and violate the basic premise of database design where adding records is free, but adding fields is expensive:

Here are some updated resources detailing the value of data normalization, including a sample database and VBA code to transpose and normalize your existing data.

These and other related papers are part of our developer centers:

Hope these help you create more scalable, maintainable, and analyzable databases.

For advanced data analysis, check out our Total Access Statistics add-in product.

Sep 22

Email Collaboration using Microsoft Outlook and Exchange from a Database Perspective

One of the challenges most organizations face is how to coordinate communications and tasks among team members and external contacts. With multiple people and clients/projects, emails fly in many directions. People with vital information may be unreachable while customers may be providing information to someone in your organization while others who need that information are oblivious. When someone leaves a team or organization, much of their information is lost.

Microsoft OutlookOver the years, we've helped several clients better manage their emails and treat them like a database. We've built solutions that work with Exchange and Outlook to automatically classify contacts, tag emails, and store the information in a Microsoft SQL Server database. The data is presented through a Microsoft Outlook add-in showing all communications with a contact's firm when you create or respond to an email. The data can also be displayed in the Facebook like interface to make it easy for everyone on your team to know what's going on.

There's no longer a need to look in someone else's Inbox since information is immediately shared between everyone who needs to know (even before the recipient opens their message). Searching for messages is quick and easy, and corporate document retention policies can be enforced.

To learn more about this and other innovative activities of our Professional Solutions Group, please contact our consulting team.