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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    3

    Unanswered: Need Some Pointers On Database Design, Complete Newbie

    First of all, I admit, I am a complete newbie to databases, and access altogether. Nonetheless, someone assumed because I was a decent computer tech, I'd make a good database guy for our new website rollout. (note, this job was "given" to me, I certainly didn't ask for it)
    To start with, we are an online/mailorder retailer, specializing in out of production and hard to find computer parts. Our inventory runs about 20,000 items, and I've got no idea where to start with this database. Here are my set objectives for the time being:

    1. Create a searchable database of all of our products, both to be searched via the new website, and inhouse for our salesmen.
    This search feature would have to include something like along the lines of searching for an AT motherboard, that accepts socket 7 processors, has 2 isa slots, 3 pci slots, uses pc133 memory, has onboard sound, onboard lan, no onboard video (I think you get the idea)

    My boss has laid out about 20 different variables he wants the motherboards searchable by..... sounds like a lot of tables to me.

    2. Create user interfaces for product sales, ordering, restocking, inventory.... I think you get the idea

    3. Create an interface for adding new products to the inventory that forces certain fields to be filled out, while not allowing part numbers to be repeated.

    I know this is vauge, but like I said, I've got no idea where to start, I bought a book on access this evening, and will be reading it, trying to figure it out as I look around the net for some basic idea of where to start

    Thanks in advance for any advice

    Smee

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    24
    I would use sql server for the database and access for the front end since it sounds like you will have multiple users probably using the database at the same time.

    I usually start with designing the tables, then do the forms. Look at the example northwind database that comes with sql server, and access. I think it is a database like what you need to build. Same thing happened to me last year I was a network tech at work so they just figured I must know databases also.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    3

    THANKS

    Thanks much, I'll start there

    Smee

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    1,091
    If you are serious about this, then I found that Database Design for Mere Mortals by Michael Hernandez is the best book available. He does not address specific database software, but the principles of database design, including tables, relationships, etc. Well worth your time.
    old, slow, and confused
    but at least I'm inconsistent!

    Rich
    (retired Excel 2003 user, 3/28/2008)

    How to ask a question on forums

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    The Bottom of The Barrel
    Posts
    6,102
    Provided Answers: 1
    Get a consultant.

    Seriously.


    Unless you have a looong target date for completion, you're going to want someone who's already familiar with this. There are quite a few more variables with providing searchable online active content then creating an access database.

    That said, I second the SQL Server backend. We use a variety of clients to hit ours. Access/Delphi front ends for in-office use as well as a php-based client for our on-location staff.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Roanoke, Va
    Posts
    445

    Thumbs up

    Originally posted by shades
    If you are serious about this, then I found that Database Design for Mere Mortals by Michael Hernandez is the best book available. He does not address specific database software, but the principles of database design, including tables, relationships, etc. Well worth your time.
    I second the nomination for the book by Michael Hernandez. Definitely a good read even if you do hire a consultant.

    Gregg

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Boston, Mass. USA
    Posts
    81
    all the suggestions are good.
    For books I've generally found the consumer (user) reviews on Amazon.com helpful. Often half.com is a source to buy used.

    Even though you have highly specialized "search" needs it seems to me inventory tracking is not a very specialized application. It seems there must be some competition amongst vendors selling inventory management programs--from shareware right up to what the behemoths like the military or Amazon.com need.

    Alternatively there must be a consultant who can get you started and show you have to maintain it. Or a vendor who will adapt their software to fit even a small company's needs.

    I guess the question for your boss is it a wise use of resources to reinvent the wheel? This seems much more costly. However, it may be a great chance for you to learn about databases.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    3

    Thanks for the help and suggestions

    First of all, thanks to everyone for the great suggestions. I have bought several books on the subject, and intend to buy the one you guys seem to agree on also.
    As for the consultant idea... a good one, however I don't know if my boss will go for it. For someone in the computer business, he doesn't have a realistic idea of what a tech such as me should know (this is the same guy who also expects me to know how to create virtually any document in the world, using the "software of the week" as he changes word processing apps more than I change underwear, but expects that being a "computer guy" I should be able to teach it to him as his whims change. So, since it is a reasonably decent paying job, if he's going to pay me to learn database design and maintenence, then I'm going to learn it on his nickel......]
    Once again, thanks for the advice, and be prepared for more stupid questions to come.....

    Smee

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