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Microsoft Access 2010

This lesson will teach you about the importance of planning in database design and the five steps that you can use to design a database, at the same time learning what kind of data to include in a database.


Microsoft Access is different from many of the applications you have probably used from the Microsoft Office Suite. With other applications you start the application and create your document, spreadsheet, presentation and so on, you don’t have to tell the application how to do that. Take Microsoft Excel for example. You start Excel and simply enter your data formulas and so on. You don’t need to tell Excel that you need a spreadsheet that contains rows and columns, or that you are going to enter text or numbers, you just enter what you want. In contrast before you can do anything access you should tell it what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. You need to tell it what kind of guider you will be working with, where you want the data to be store, what you want your data entry screens to look like and how you want to retrieve the data. Planning and designing are the most important tasks you will perform when you create your database. If you have a good design they will be easy to enter your data. You will be able to get any information you need from your database and you will be able to revise or expand your database whenever you need to know. If you have a bad design your data base can be slow.

Designing a database consists of five main steps

  • Needs Analysis
  • Report Design
  • Data Analysis
  • Table Design
  • and Form Design

During the needs analysis phase, you should look at:

  • How people are using the data currently?
  • What additional data they would like to track?
  • What tasks are they doing?
  • Who does why and when do they do it?
  • Did they track the data on paper or in some computerized system like various spreadsheets?
  • What reports do they created?
  • Is there anything that they aren’t doing now that they would like to be able to do?

In addition to looking at the current processes and needs try to think about what you might need in the future. For example, if your data base will be used in business:

  • Could your business expand globally?
  • Would you ever have more product lines?
  • Would you ever go from being retail only, to including services as well?
  • I your database will be used to track none business information?

You will need to consider other data needs. For example, if you want to track your school football teams information:

  • Could your team move to a new division that has different rules?
  • Would you ever want to track other teams like basketball and soccer?

While you can revise your database design later, it can be difficult to incorporate new requirements if you don’t have a good plan from the start. It might seem strange that report design is the second step in the design process, but if you don’t know what you need to get out of the database you can’t determine what you need to put in.

This lesson continues in PART 2.

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