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post Mar 31 2020, 11:16 AM

Posts: 2
Joined: 31-March 20

Hi, I am a newbie, I've read the Wiley Access Bible and followed along with examples. Since starting my actual project I have run into a few headaches - so far I have solved them thanks to both the resources here and the process of actually writing out the question in a logical manner with the intention of asking you guys - I'm still early on and know i'm going to end up seeking assistance at some point so figured I'd say hi now.

If anyone wanted to (no need) what is the one thing you wish someone told or explained to you when you started up with Access?

Anyway, hope everyone is doing ok in this crazy times. On Lockdown here in the UK - Together Apart

Thanks All, Especially those who made and added to the forum
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post Mar 31 2020, 11:34 AM

UtterAccess VIP
Posts: 10,496
Joined: 25-October 10
From: Gulf South USA


Hi Firepen: Glad to have you here with us. Lots of excellent folks here to provide assistance/guidance when you need it. And especially now, there seem to be lots of us spending more time here due to the COVID-19 isolation situation.

As to "...the one thing you wish someone told or explained to you when you started up with Access ..." you are sure to get lots of different answers to this - and not just one thing. Some of us used other RDBMSs for years before arriving at Access. Others started with Access. Others had other IT experience in general. But I think I would advise getting deep into good, normalized db design, SQL and VBA. Some folks tend to shy away from pure SQL and VBA early, and these are key to tapping the tremendous power of Access. Others are sure to have other/different responses to this question.

Best of luck in your Access endeavors, and, again, welcome to UA. We are always here ...

Regards and be safe and healthy ...

"Each problem that I solved became a rule, which served afterwards to solve other problems."
"You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing."

Rene Descartes 1596-1650 (Mathematician and Philosopher)
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post Mar 31 2020, 12:27 PM

UA Admin
Posts: 37,237
Joined: 20-June 02
From: Newcastle, WA

Learn and apply the basic principles of sound table design.

I can't emphasize that enough. Some might say I'm obsessive and obnoxious and even a bit overbearing on that topic.

But in over 25 years of working with Access and years of participation here at UA and other forums, I am comfortable stating that poor, unsuitable table design is the most damaging problem people encounter.

My Real Name Is George. Grover Park Consulting is where I did business for 20 years.
How to Ask a Good Question
Beginning SQL Server
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post Mar 31 2020, 09:29 PM

UtterAccess VIP
Posts: 3,053
Joined: 12-April 07
From: Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Have to agree with George!

With good data designs, the rest of the application practically writes it self!

The only down side is that a better (more normalized) design can make the user interface "harder" to build but the results in gained flexibility far outweigh that extra work.

When you starting out thus it rather hard to get the tables normalized. This is due to the learning curve and how it is harder to build things around a more normalized design.

So, it often tempting to cut corners. (and this is not the fault of new users - it just takes time).

So, if you need to capture say your 3 favorite foods?

You add columns food1, food2, food3. It all so easy. But then later on if you need food4, food5, and food6, then you doing MUCH MORE work and you can't do simply things like ask the database what is the most common favorite food. With a child table and a column called Food, then you can do a group by and count(*) and get the answer with great ease.

But, for your "UI", you not just plop 3 (or now 6) columns on a a form. What you really want is to create a child table:


And now your form will have a sub-form. Where you can enter favorite foods, and you can now have 1 or 20 favorite foods. So it is "extra" work to create that extra related table. And it is extra work to create the sub form. And then place that sub form in the main form (you can drag + drop that sub form from the nav pane into the main form (while in design mode).

So you "are" doing extra work - but that extra work is well worth the extra efforts.

Albert D. Kallal (Access MVP 2003-2017)
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

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tina t
post Apr 1 2020, 01:01 AM

Posts: 6,588
Joined: 11-November 10
From: SoCal, USA

well, we're four for four. i'm with the guys: relational design principles, absolutely, along with learning how to perform a thorough process analysis. see the beginners reading list right here in this website for these two, and i also recommend Michael Hernandez' Database Design for Mere Mortals, which helped me tremendously (no, no relation, no financial interest). after that i'd say avoiding spaces and special characters in the name of anything that you name in a database. and finally, splitting every database into frontend (FE) and backend (BE) database files, whether or not the db will be multi-user or housed on a server.

okay, okay, i know that's more than one thing. but i was busy typing, so i didn't have my fingers free to keep track (can you say "mathematically challenged"?). ;)

and btw, good on you for asking the question in the first place!

This post has been edited by tina t: Apr 1 2020, 01:01 AM

"the wheel never stops turning"
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post Apr 1 2020, 05:14 AM

Posts: 2,988
Joined: 4-February 07
From: USA, Florida, Delray Beach

To respond with one word, mirroring what everyone before me has already said, NORMALIZATION. I also found the Developer's Handbook to be an invaluable source of information.
This post has been edited by ADezii: Apr 1 2020, 05:16 AM
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post Apr 1 2020, 05:36 AM

Posts: 2
Joined: 31-March 20

I'm actually glad to hear you all say similar things. I was worried i'd gone too far in breaking it down my tables. I normalised my first dataset into many tables but wasn't happy as kept thinking up things that would complicate. I faffed around with Northwind and other available larger DBs, read more guides then started again and much happier now as feels robust. Of course I'm looking back at my first design like i'll likely end up looking at this one in the future such is the way of the learning curve. dunce.gif
Starting to learn SQL and VBA too, but total newbie at coding so a long road ahead!

I've also found my first, I just don't know issue which i'll post in the right section. EDIT - Nope, once again found what I needed on the UA Forum

I am in isolation as my other half has symptoms, we're both non-risk and only minor so not worried about us at all, but you are right, it is the reason i'm able to steam ahead on my project.

Thanks again all!
This post has been edited by Firepen: Apr 1 2020, 06:23 AM
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Jeff B.
post Apr 1 2020, 08:16 AM

UtterAccess VIP
Posts: 10,479
Joined: 30-April 10
From: Pacific NorthWet

I will also chime in on Normalization, as it is applicable whether you are using Access or another relational database.

The "one thing" that I've found most important is remembering that the folks who need what Access can do are not, generally, Access developers. That is, if an Access app is not easy to use and doesn't help make a user's life/job easier, it won't get used. After doing all the normalization and design work, I need (OK, want) to be able to walk away (and on to the next app).


Jeff Boyce
Microsoft Access MVP (2002-2015)

Mention of hardware or software is, in no way, an endorsement thereof. The FTC of the USA made this disclaimer necessary/possible.
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