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Lesson 1

Microsoft Access Database

This module discusses the elements that make up a database in Microsoft Access.
Databases can be quite simple or quite complicated and we will start the discussion with simple databases.
Before you can build a database you need to have an idea about what you need to build. Creating a database is not as familiar to most people as other types of work you may do on a computer such as writing a document or creating a spreadsheet.
In this module you will learn some official database terms and definitions and see some examples of the types of data that can be stored and analyzed in a database. In additions, you will learn the steps for designing and creating the final product, you will create the beginnings of the database that will become your course project. After completing this module you will be able to:
  1. Describe what a database is
  2. Describe what a relational database is
  3. Describe how to design a relational database
  4. Describe how an Access database stores data in a table
  5. Describe the purpose of the other Access database objects: forms, reports, and queries
  6. Design an Access database
  7. Create an empty Access database file
  8. List the steps involved in creating an Access database

Benefits of using a Good Database

Many people use an address book to keep track of close friends and relatives. For the most part, the low-tech address book works great. But consider what happens if you decide to store the same information in an Access database. Even though your contact list is not storing large volumes of information, it still offers a few features that you would not have without Access. One of these features outlines the benefits of having an electronic backup. If you have ever tried to decipher a phone number through a stained sheet of paper, you know that sometimes it helps to have information stored. Once you place all your contact information into a database, you will be able to preserve it in case of disaster, and print as many copies as you need (each with some or all of the information showing). You can even share your list with a friend who needs the same numbers.

  1. Space: Although most people can fit all the contacts they need into a small address book, a database ensures you will never fill up a particular section. In addition, you can cross out and rewrite the address for your itinerant Uncle Sid only so many times before you run out of room.
  2. Searching: An address book organizes contacts in one way, that is by name. But what happens once you have entered everyone in alphabetical order by last name, and you need to look up a contact you vaguely remember as Tom? Access can effortlessly handle this search. It can also find a matching entry by phone number, which is great if your phone gives you a log of missed calls, and you want to figure out who has been calling.
  3. Sharing: Only one person at a time can edit most ordinary files like Microsoft Word documents and spreadsheets. This limitation causes a problem if you need your entire office team to collaborate on a lunch menu.
    Access lets multiple people review and change your data at the same time and on different computers.
  4. Integration with other applications: Access introduces you to a realm of timesaving possibilities like mail merge.
    You can feed a list of contacts into a form letter you create in Word, and automatically generate dozens of individually addressed letters.
    All these examples demonstrate solid reasons why to use a RDBMS with almost any type of information.