Microsoft Access is a powerful relational database management system which allows database tables to be linked together through common fields. This eases data sharing and management, and minimises data duplication. This practical course introduces relationships - why they are needed and how they are designed and created - and develops techniques required for relational design. These techniques include creating suitable tables for storing and linking data, and developing suitable user interfaces for entering and accessing data; the latter requires some Access programming. Access contains two programming languages - Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and Structured Query Language (SQL). SQL's commands query data whilst VBA is used for macro and module programming; both enhance forms (used mainly for data input) and reports (for data output). Combining VBA and SQL is the most efficient way to write Access programs.
During the course we will consider and develop a multi-table application, from design of tables and relationships to design of user interface forms for input; and forms, queries, and reports for data output. This application will be based on a small retail business selling goods to customers. We can achieve good, efficient design by practising and following a few basic “common sense” rules. A more formalised procedure, termed normalisation, which is used to group data into tables and tables into database systems, is mentioned briefly on this course.
Participants are expected to be familiar with the basics of Access - the creation, use, and modification of simple ‘flat’ tables, and simple queries, forms, and reports. No previous experience of either relational techniques or of VBA or SQL programming is assumed or required, as these will all be taught from first principles on this course.