473,396 Members | 1,754 Online
Bytes | Software Development & Data Engineering Community
Post Job

Home Posts Topics Members FAQ

Join Bytes and contribute your articles to a community of 473,396 developers and data experts.

Excel in Access (Part 1)

Problem for Excel Developers
One of the problems facing Excel developers moving into MS Access is actually the apparent similarity between MS Access tables and Excel spreadsheets.

MS Access is NOT Excel
This similarity of the “look” in both programs, the layout of the data, leads to the Excel developer mistakenly thinking that a database works in a similar way to a spreadsheet.

Flat File Database
Spreadsheets are very sophisticated tools for manipulating figures, and they can also handle data very well particularly in the form of a “flat file database”. You can also use the flat file approach in MS Access, however MS Access is primarily a relational database, meaning that it has the ability to relate tables of information together.

It is by taking advantage of this relational property of the database that you can really make significant improvements to data handling. So if you have a spreadsheet that requires upgrading to a database to take advantage of this, then this article is for you.

Typical Spreadsheet Layout
Below is an example which shows columns that you would typically find in a spreadsheet, first name, last name for example. Then a variety of subjects, with a check box against each indicating that the subject has been taken, passed or possibly even failed!

Flat File is OK
A direct transfer of this spreadsheet layout into an MS Access table would be usable and indeed many Access databases are constructed in this way, and some sophisticated applications costing many hundreds of pounds are based on a flat file system. However as mentioned earlier, MS Access is a “relational” database, meaning that it has the ability to relate your data together.

You’re Not Relational????
So how and why should you apply a Relational structure? Well it solves a lot of problems, there are many but I have noted the main ones below.

Uncharted Territory
The first most common problem I have noticed on forums for people with similarly designed tables imported from a spreadsheet is that they find it difficult to extract useful information, and this is one of the major reasons that you should consider constructing your new database in a different manner to your spreadsheet, no doubt you will be able to come up with your own unique methods of extracting the data, however you will find there is little help available, not because no one wants to help you, but because you are embarking into uncharted territory, “where no man has gone before” (student is a good substitute for “man”).

Another reason, (not in any particular order of importance, the significance will change from project to project) what happens if you need to add an extra subject? Let’s say the school starts offering French lessons, in the spreadsheet all you would do is add a new column “French” and indeed in your MS Access database you could also add a new column “French”, however if the construction of your database is well advanced, in other words you have many queries and forms based on the table you are adding a new field to, then you will have to modify every single query and form that extracts information from this table, not something you want to do often!

Column Limit
Many modern spreadsheet programs can handle thousands of columns; however MS Access has a 255 limit to the number of fields in any particular table. So in the student table example, if you were at the 255 limit and you needed to add another subject then you would find yourself in a difficult position.

Relational Solution
So what’s the solution? This is the part that is sort of counter intuitive, you actually construct two tables from the original table and link them together. This is the “relational” aspect of the database coming into play.

If you look at the original layout of the data above you can ask questions about it, is there any data in the original table that is related? Looking at it, I would suspect all of the boolean columns (the check box columns, yes/no data) they are all the same, so they are a likely candidate for a separate table. And indeed there is an obvious name for this new table, they are all “subjects” that the student is or could take.

The New Table
So now you have a name for the new table, “Subjects” and to link it to the data remaining in the original table, (first name,- last name) it will need to have a field which contains a match to the RecordUniqueID field. For this example let’s call this “MatchingID” then you need a field to record the subject and another field to record whether it is true or false. For the purposes of this demonstration I have terms these “TransposedSubject” and “TransposedData” and you can see what this should look like below:

Free Normalization Tool (Download Here)
How do you get that new table you may ask? Well originally it was quite a tedious task, especially if you had many columns of data to move, you had to construct an append query and append each column. However I realized it may be a process that would lend itself to automation of some sort, and I came up with a form for handling this.
Mar 10 '08 #1
0 6197

Sign in to post your reply or Sign up for a free account.

Similar topics

by: Paul | last post by:
I was wondering if anyone has had an issue where using vba code to read an excel file and import the data into an access table some records are not imported from the excel file. It seems looking at...
by: John | last post by:
Is there a way to code the button that's available in the query window--microsoft excel icon that exports to excel. I know transferspreadsheet will do this---but I want the query, which is in a...
by: [Yosi] | last post by:
Can I make an Excel file without having Excel in my PC ? I want to create Excel files from my C# application , then open those files later in another PC who have Excel installed . As we can open...
by: Thelma Lubkin | last post by:
I am trying to modify an Access form that allows a user to specify the information s/he needs from a census-type database. The form's code builds a SQL statement from the user's request, and...
by: garry.oxnard | last post by:
Can anyone help me to solve a problem which involves switching from Access to Excel (then back to Access) programatically please? I have an Excel template which, on open, also opens an Access...
by: PW | last post by:
Convert them to CSV in Excel, then use TransferText (which does not work correctly and also doesn't accept XLS/Excel files directly) or create a link to an Excel XLS workbook and do an Append Query...
by: =?Utf-8?B?YzY3NjIyOA==?= | last post by:
Hi all, I have a question for you. I have a .csv file which has many lines of data. Each line has many data fields which are delimited by ",". Now I need to extract part of data from this...
by: Simon | last post by:
Dear reader, How to export a hyperlink field from Access to Excel, so it is also working in Excel. In Excel you have for the Hyperlink to parts: a.. Text To Display
by: Joe Humburg | last post by:
Hi everyone, Looking for some help or ideas, on the folloiwng problem. Have an Access 2003 application that creates an Excel file containing data from an Access parameter query. This is...
by: emmanuelkatto | last post by:
Hi All, I am Emmanuel katto from Uganda. I want to ask what challenges you've faced while migrating a website to cloud. Please let me know. Thanks! Emmanuel
by: BarryA | last post by:
What are the essential steps and strategies outlined in the Data Structures and Algorithms (DSA) roadmap for aspiring data scientists? How can individuals effectively utilize this roadmap to progress...
by: nemocccc | last post by:
hello, everyone, I want to develop a software for my android phone for daily needs, any suggestions?
by: Sonnysonu | last post by:
This is the data of csv file 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 2 3 2 3 3 the lengths should be different i have to store the data by column-wise with in the specific length. suppose the i have to...
by: Hystou | last post by:
There are some requirements for setting up RAID: 1. The motherboard and BIOS support RAID configuration. 2. The motherboard has 2 or more available SATA protocol SSD/HDD slots (including MSATA, M.2...
by: Hystou | last post by:
Most computers default to English, but sometimes we require a different language, especially when relocating. Forgot to request a specific language before your computer shipped? No problem! You can...
by: Oralloy | last post by:
Hello folks, I am unable to find appropriate documentation on the type promotion of bit-fields when using the generalised comparison operator "<=>". The problem is that using the GNU compilers,...
by: jinu1996 | last post by:
In today's digital age, having a compelling online presence is paramount for businesses aiming to thrive in a competitive landscape. At the heart of this digital strategy lies an intricately woven...
by: tracyyun | last post by:
Dear forum friends, With the development of smart home technology, a variety of wireless communication protocols have appeared on the market, such as Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. Each...

By using Bytes.com and it's services, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

To disable or enable advertisements and analytics tracking please visit the manage ads & tracking page.