Why use Microsoft Access?

Access can store data.

  • Database:  The file you create, save, open, and modify.  In Access, the database contains not only the data tables, but the forms, reports, indices, queries, and web pages related to that data as well.
  • Table:  The container which stores data, for example your customers’ contact information.
  • Datasheet:  A view of a table showing fields as columns, and records as rows.  The intersection of a column and row is called a cell.
  • Field:  A detail, or category of information, such as a customer’s phone number.
  • Record:  A collection of fields related to a single entity or database entry, for example an individual customer’s name, address, and phone number.

Access can make it easy to enter and display information.

  • Form:  Used on-screen to enter and display information.  Data entered into and displayed by a form is going into and coming from the underlying table(s).  Forms aren’t required—you could enter data directly into the table—but they provide a user-friendly interface and can aid productivity and accuracy.
  • Control:  a form element, including a label or a data-entry component like a text box, combo box, check box, etc.
  • Report:  A customized and formatted collection of data designed primarily to be printed.  A report can show one record or many, and can display calculations and summaries.

Access provides both simple and powerful ways to organize, sort, filter, manipulate and locate data.

  • Query:  A query is an action performed—a request you make of your database, or a set of instructions used to locate qualifying records.  The instructions might be “show me my customers sorted by last name,” or “show me only members who haven’t paid their dues for the year,” or “find the customer who ordered this out-of-stock product.”  Most queries don’t permanently change a database, they simply allow you to see existing data according to specific requirements or criteria.

Access is a relational database which can store data more efficiently than a flat database.

  • In a flat database, there is only one table.  Therefore, each record must contain all fields related to that entry.  You end up with repeated and redundant information.
  • Relational databases have more tables with fewer fields (columns) each.  Those tables are linked together through a relationship.
  • Relationship:  An association between two tables (and/or queries).  An inventory table would contain a ‘supplier’ field, and that field would correspond to an entry in your supplier contact table, which would in turn contain the supplier’s name, address, and phone number.  The relationship between the tables would allow the database to ‘link’ the tables together.

Access is packed with Wizards, which automatically generate entire databases or database components, Builders, which assist in other tasks, and Help.

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