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Help needed for creating a database please

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#1 Chris Bloom

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Posted 10 November 2001 - 07:01

I have been trying for a while to collect information about a particular period of motor racing, that period being between 1918-39. My problem is that at the moment it is all in different types of media; web pages, books, other computer documents, info from this forum etc.

What I was thinking of doing was to create a Database in Access, which would allow me to add details concerning each particular race as I went along. For each race I would have the official results as well as somewhere where I could add information when I come across it and maybe pictures as well.

I have a basic knowledge of Access but have never tried something like this. I know other readers have mentioned that they have Databases concerning specific topics or periods. Any hints or suggestions on how I should go about it would be greatly appreciated.



#2 fines

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Posted 12 November 2001 - 19:52

My experience with MS Access is that it is a headache to work with. I do all my databases with MS Excel.

Oh dear, can't you see? It's them it's not me
We're not enemies, we just disagree
If I was like him all pissed in this bar
He changes his mind, says I went too far
We all disagree
I think we should disagree, yeah

Is This It - The Strokes (2001)

#3 Don Capps

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Posted 12 November 2001 - 23:19

My experience is just the opposite! While Excel works great for spreadsheets, it is so-so at best for database work.

Access is not that hard once you -- I even hate to say this -- read the book and work with it. I find it very, very good and will not even look at Excel for this sort of work. It is very powerful and yet very easy to format and run.

I recommend you set up a small database to play with and then stretch the envelope. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

#4 Barry Lake

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Posted 13 November 2001 - 05:33

I'm with Fines on this one. I started with Excel and have evolved some very effective ways of using it. I have an Excel file that has 35,000 rows by 39 columns on one worksheet, 18,000-odd rows by 39 on another sheet, plus various other sheets.

A few months ago I saved it as text and tabs so I could do a word count on it - it was 2.6 million words! It has grown a lot since then.

It is just on 20 Mb in size. And it works for me; I can sort it in all sorts of ways.

Whenever I have tried to use Access, I have found it doesn't work as well for me. I did convert this file to Access and there were some report features I liked, but I went back to Excel.

A friend told me, also, that Access spits the dummy with files this large, so I didn't want to take any chances. A case of "the devil you know..."

But I am concerned about its reliability as it grows even larger. A worksheet has a maximum of 40,000 entries and I will pass that mark very soon.

I am not ruling out Access; I still have a feeling that it could be better, once used to it, but I have no complaints about what I have now.

#5 Roger Clark

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Posted 13 November 2001 - 06:36

One thing you need to consider is data security. My understanding is that with Excel the whole sheet is kept in memory. Therefore in the event of a machine crash all you updates, since the last time you saved it are lost. It is more usual with a genuine database product for update to be copied to disk every time you update a row. I don't know whether this is true with Access. Not that Microsoft software ever crashes does it?

You're also likely to run into problem with Excel if you have more than one large table and try a lot of cross-table linkage.

#6 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 13 November 2001 - 09:06

Years ago when I still messed around with Macintosh hardware, I had started an interlinked database with File Maker Pro. After my third serious try I had a pretty good functional design of a relational database. But then I encountered difficulties where I had to learn programming, in order to have my data perform certain tricks. At that time the language was Appletalk and I never learned it. I believe you would need VBA for Access and although Access is rather clumsy in comparison to File Maker Pro it might be an easier project all together with VBA language.

#7 andrewf

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Posted 13 November 2001 - 09:44


I would seriously suggest that you consider Microsoft Access as the tool of choice here, especially if you want to include pictures.

Until recently, I developed custom database systems for a living. By prefference, I worked with MS SQL server but, failing that, the Access data engine gives good stability and performance on a single PC platform. The only time you are likely to experience difficulty is if you want many people to access the data at the same time over a network. Access, while quite capable of this, does not perform particularly well in a multi-user environment.

I would guess that, given the number of races between 1918 and 1939, you may land up with a lot of data and I really think Excel would be inappropriate.

If you are comfortable with writing VB code, you may want to consider doing the program in VB with a Microsoft Access back end. I would suggest that you play around with Access first, however, and explore the VBA capabilities which it has before moving on to a full VB development environment. I think you will find Access both efficient and easy to use compared to many other database packages.

The best way to learn is to go and get yourself one of the Step by Step guides which should be stocked by any good book shop.

Best Regards


#8 Marco94

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Posted 13 November 2001 - 10:34

I think a true database really is the way to go. Take a look at Forix. That is database driven. Why not try it with open source software like Linux and Postgresql? It's cheap in terms of money, you have to put in a lot of effort, but you can publish it fairly easy once you find a good host/provider. Desining a good database takes time, but it'll pay back in the long run.

#9 Jeremy Jackson

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Posted 13 November 2001 - 12:45


The MS Access database holding my racing data is inherently stable, and is currently 38Mb - Just the tables, I keep queries and reports in a separate database and link to the tables.

Like Andrew, until recently, I've been writing software for a living, and I don't think that Excel is the way to go either. I've had a lot of Excel crashes, but very rarely Access. Access data is safed when you movedaway from the current entry line, so Access crashes (not many in my experience) mean you lose 1 line at most.

Also, remember that Access databases to not shrink when data is deleted, and thus grow and grow if you keep adding data... UNLESS you Compact the database regularly.

#10 Chris Bloom

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Posted 13 November 2001 - 18:41

Thanks for the replys and suggestions guys. :)