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[Lecture 2] How should you create your Access database system?
Before doing this you really need to know your requirements. What exactly is it you
want your system to do? Write down a few ideas and you will find your system will
come together on paper. For example for an invoicing system we may outline as
• Record customer information
• Record order information
• Mail or email each customer or supplier
• Create reports on customer information
• Create reports on invoice information
• Add product information into the system
• Record customer payment details
Already you can see a few screen ideas there. For instance we can have a screen for
recording customer information. Another for payment information and another for
Do we need the ability to update and delete data?
Will some screens be read only?
Do we need to record the time and date of the order?
Do we need to create a customer mail shot ?
Do we need to create mailing labels?
Can our data be exported into Excel for accounting purposes?
You can also see that we have other components from the Office suite coming into
play here. For instance a mail shot? We could mail merge our MS Access data with
MS Word to create mail shots. We could do the same with mailing labels. Excel – yes
we can export our data very easily into Excel for accounting or even forecasting
By fleshing out some ideas here we have not only created ideas for screens, but also
we have an idea of the data storage backend. Data in Access is stored in what is
called tables. In this case we would have a separate table for customers and
payments. The screens we create will get it’s data from it’s related table. For example
the customers screen will be using the table called customers to store it’s data.
It is a good idea to also sketch out how you want to present the data. Do you want to
see a view of how many sales you got in August? Do you want to know the total
value of sales or how many overseas customers you have? To view data in this
fashion in Access you set up what is known as a query. You can use this query as a
basis for a report or even a screen. Queries are very powerful in Access.
There can be a tendency to add too many features into your system. This can make
the system bloated and slow. We have all seen examples of this with commercial
software we have bought. Try and keep it simple and only stick to what you really
need to do your job. Do you really need your database to contain a built in web
browser when you just as easily use IE or Firefox?
I will now take you through creating a simple system for recording customer and
sales information. Bear in mind this is a general overview outlining certain Access
database features. It is possible to expand this to create a full blown system.
I have used Access 2000 for the examples in these Tutorials, but they will work just as
well for any other version.
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