What’s in an Access Database?
Access is the data storage application of the Microsoft Office suite. Its facility for linking several databases together makes it capable of storing a very large amount of data. A database will typically contain:
- Tables for holding data
- Queries for adding, editing, deleting and retrieving data from the tables
- Forms for entering, manipulating and displaying data
- Reports for presenting data retrieved from the tables
- Macros and program code to automate various processes and to control other Office applications.
Access Case Study
Our client, a Christchurch building surveyor, battled with Word for hours each week to produce his survey reports. Our initial brief was to streamline his report template, but it soon became apparent that there were a lot of advantages to be gained by moving to an Access database driving the Word template. So now, survey data is entered into Access; entry has been simplified as far as possible, with most of the data coming from lists and drop-downs and text entry via textboxes in forms. (The forms were designed in collaboration with our client so that he knew exactly what each item on the form was for.)
Having completed the data entry phase, our client clicks the ‘Go’ button and program code in the Access database sends a stream of data and commands to Word to build the report document. A typical 15‑page report, containing 25 formatted photographs, three maps, a very large table for insurance purposes and several pages of generated text will be assembled by the system in under a minute. After a little editing, the completed report is ready for emailing to the customer – the Access database also generates the email which accompanies the report.
The database, now with several hundred reports under its belt, contains a valuable collection of data which can be mined to show trends, areas of special interest, summaries of numerical data and so on.