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  1. #1
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    Jan 2014
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    Getting started databasing

    Hey dBforums,

    I'm currently working at a small company that is in need of converting a current excel document in to a relatively small database. Now here's the catch.. I'm a sophomore computer science student with absolutely no experience or knowledge on databases.

    However, I decided to take up the project, considering I am getting minimum wage and wouldn't feel all that bad in the (unfortunate and hopefully unlikely) case that I could not get the job done. The company has no sort of IT department so someone needed to step up and take on the project, as the excel spreadsheet is beginning to get out of control.

    Currently, the excel doc is holding is currently holding system identification, performance testing, shipping, office related, and repair data for the systems (ultraviolet light curing systems) we sell. A picture here of the described
    It began small, like all things, and quickly got out of control.

    My job is to learn what I can about databasing, and choose a suitable DBMS to get the job done. My first thought was to do this in access, considering the easy excel integration, but I'm also considering using MS SQL or MariaDB
    (as recommended by a few peers). I'm only at the workplace in between school sessions so the database will have to be accessible and manageable but those uninformed on the subject. Also to be noted is there is currently no server in place and all of our data is being stored on a pc sharing its folders to the workgroup, however plans of switching to a server in the future are in place.

    My question is, what would be the best DBMS to use for this job?

    Also, it would be greatly appreciated if you could forward me to any resources on getting started with databasing it would be greatly appreciated.
    I have already done a considerable (kind of) amount of research pertaining to normalization, redundancy, data ambiguity, and a few other topics. But
    I have not yet dove in to the application quite yet. Apologies if this is not the correct location to post this.

    Thanks for any and all input you may have

  2. #2
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    For a small shop, and to get your feet wet in database design, MS Access is fine.
    If it's not practically useful, then it's practically useless.

    blindman
    www.chess.com: "sqlblindman"
    www.LobsterShot.blogspot.com

  3. #3
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    Each of the databases that you've suggested (MS-Access, MariaDB, and MS-SQL) will do the job you've described.

    MS-Access is a complete environment, meaning that the data entry and reporting tools are part of the package. This is probably where you'll see the quickest startup, and in my opinion it is the best place to start.

    -PatP
    In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, theory and practice are unrelated.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2014
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    Thanks pat. Have any tips to approaching the design process? There are a ton of fields on this document and its pretty overwhelming to try to begin sifting through. My main difficulty is identifying things in the excel doc that wouldn't be suitable in a database.

  5. #5
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    I would STRONGLY suggest that you spend some time with Marc Rettig's Database Normalization Poster. I got it decades ago (probably before you were born) from a magazine, and it has been the single "go to" source that I've recommend for people just starting with Normalization ever since I first saw it. Marc has reduced the often hard to grasp concepts of Data Normalization down to a single, deceptively simple poster.

    If you learn at least the first three steps in this poster, you will eliminate 98% of the database problems that you could encounter because you will never actually encounter those problems! If you learn the whole poster, you'll avoid 99% of the problems that you could encounter (almost every possible schema design problem).

    Once you mentally process the poster, you ought to be able to slice through the spreadsheet like a chainsaw through butter (and you'll unerringly make good choices). If you do NOTHING else to learn about databases, this alone will save you more time than you can imagine!

    If you want more learning material, come back with more specific questions and I'll offer more suggestions!

    -PatP
    In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, theory and practice are unrelated.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by alavkx View Post
    but I'm also considering using MS SQL or MariaDB
    I personally don't consider MySQL or MariaDB a viable choice today. MySQL/MariaDB simply lost track in the development of modern SQL features that can be taken granted in all other major DBMS nowadays. If you are looking for a free database that offers all the features of a DBMS from the 21st century, you should seriously consider Postgres instead.

    Now given the "requirements" you sketched out, any choice would probably be a good enough fit right now - but not all of them will grow with your needs

    MS-Access is actually more of an IDE application development environment than a real database - but as you also look for a development environment it is probably the best choice today for creating client/server GUI applications.

    Note that Access can also connect to any server-based DBMS through ODBC, so you could combine MS Access with a Postgres or SQL Server installation as the backend.
    I will not read nor answer questions where the SQL code is messy and not formatted properly using [code] tags: http://www.dbforums.com/misc.php?do=bbcode#code

    Tips for good questions:

    http://tkyte.blogspot.de/2005/06/how...questions.html
    http://wiki.postgresql.org/wiki/SlowQueryQuestions
    http://catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by shammat View Post
    MS-Access is actually more of an IDE application development environment than a real database - but as you also look for a development environment it is probably the best choice today for creating client/server GUI applications.
    True, and as of Access 2010 the default underlying database engine is essentially MS-SQL and the MS-Access platform allows easy shifts to other database engines.

    Considering that the current platform is Excel, I'm pretty confident that MS-Access will handle the existing load well. As the needs grow, MS-Access allows a relatively simple growth path until you get to somewhere between a dozen and a hundred users. By the time they outgrow MS-Access, they'll probably need to take a hard look at finding someone with more than "home grown" skills, and based on the initiative that alavkx has shown already I'm betting that they'll be a good candidate!

    -PatP
    In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, theory and practice are unrelated.

  8. #8
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    Ah yes that poster is awesome. I found it trolling around the forums before posted and printed it out and put it in my notebook.
    I've gone through 3 or 4 sources and taken notes on their respective explanations on the stages of normalization in attempt to drill it in to my thick skull.

    A friend from school recommended mariaDB. I would love to start in a more bare bones environment but I simply don't have the time to go ahead and jump in to developing a front end interface for reporting and data input that the rest of the staff could use.

    I like that Access 2010 has the underlying SQL thing going for it, as I would definitely like to move into MS SQL Server when we do in fact get a server running.

    Currently my main difficulty is breaking down the wall of data categories currently presented and chunking it down in to more manageable parts.

    Thanks! Really appreciate the help guys

  9. #9
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    Hmm.. I wrote a big detailed reply and I guess it didn't post. But first off thanks again for the guidance!
    I saw you posted that poster link in another thread while I was trawling the forums previous to posting, its printed out and in my notebook
    I actually went to 3 or 4 sources on the process of normalization to get different explanations and really drill it in to my apparently thick skull.
    MariaDB was a friend's suggestion that I was pretty keen on, due mostly to its compatibility with operating systems and the fact that it is free, until I noticed that I would have to create my own front end software for reporting/inputting data for the assembly team to use.
    It's good to hear you can transition to MS SQL with Access '10 as I was worried about moving over to a server among other things as it progresses.

    My current roadblock is identifying relationships between the data and breaking the information categories down in to more manageable chunks, as there are quite a bit of potential attributes. I guess this means I just need to train my databasing mind

    Learning is a lot more fun when you're getting paid to do it, rather than the opposite.

  10. #10
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    Three times I've typed out and posted a response, but they dont seem to be showing up. Im not sure if that means they werent approved or what but Im not ignoring you guys I promise! Some great info on this thread, didnt know that you could use Access as a GUI Front end with other software! Interesting. Thanks again for the help, ill stay in touch if I need another push in the right direction.

  11. #11
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    Sorry, your posts weren't approved but they are now.

    It appears that the add-on that scans posts for "interesting" material and marks those posts for moderation needs a little fine tuning! It is at least supposed to notify us when there are posts that need moderation, but even that needs some work. I'll see what I can do to get folks to make that process a little smoother.

    -PatP
    In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, theory and practice are unrelated.

  12. #12
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    Jan 2014
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    Or maybe I need to make my posts a little less interesting
    Cheers!

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