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Help me design my database!

Last updated: before December, 1998

(joins, repeating panels, what data in which database etc...)

Apart from simple 'card file' type databases, every piece of major database software you can think works with relational databases; Approach, Paradox, Access etc... In order to use any of these packages efficiently, including Approach, you first need to understand what a relational database is, and how you would divide your data into one. If you don't understand this then you are going to have difficulty using many features of Approach, or any other database software.

Questions concerning database design are quite common on the Approach Users Mailing List. However, strictly speaking most of these questions and answers have little or nothing to do with Approach. What the people asking these question lack not so much an understanding of how Approach works, but rather an understanding of what a relational database is and how they work.

And as it turns out, I am not going to attempt to explain this! Instead, what I suggest you do is this: Allocate some time and perhaps money, to do some reading or perhaps a short course in relational databases. Some books are suggested above. The Approach manual includes some information, but most people seem to need a more in-depth look at it before they really grasp what is happening. The better this ground work the easier and quicker you will be able to build an efficient database. I won't take all that long, and the benefits are huge.

Also have a careful took at the example databases supplied with Approach. Go into design and check out the structure of the database; the design of the various views; and how each aspect works.

Its a good idea to also become familiar with all the features of Approach so that you can be aware of what is it ~ and isn't ~ capable of. In particular, getting to know macros and how to loop them is is very handy (see articles 'Looping macros' and 'Conditional form navigation ( tabs )' in this FAQ)

As you are doing these things keep some notes about how you might structure your database. When you are ready begin establishing your database one bit at a time with a small amount of test data. When it is fully functioning, or at least developed enough to do all the major functions, import your data, and begin using it!

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