Microsoft Access can help you prepare printed documentation of your database’s design, which you can use for offline reference and planning. Specifically, Access can help you print table relationships as depicted in the Relationship window, and can help you print the design characteristics of database objects, such as object properties.
Prepare the Relationships window for printing
The Relationship window is a window in which you view, create, and edit relationships between tables and queries. Depending on how you configure it, the Relationships window does not always show all the relationships in your database. You should decide which relationships you want to document — and prepare the Relationships window accordingly — before you print table relationships. You can show or hide tables in the Relationships window, and you can rearrange their layout.
Although Microsoft won’t admit it, Access can be intimidating—intimidating enough to trigger a cold sweat in the most confident office worker. Even though Microsoft has spent millions of dollars making Access easier to use, most people still see it as the most complicated Office program on the block. They’re probably right.
Access seems more daunting than any other Office program because of the way that databases work. Quite simply, databases need strict rules. Other programs aren’t as obsessive. For example, you can fire up Word, and start typing a letter straight away. Or you can start Excel, and launch right into a financial report. But Access isn’t nearly as freewheeling. Before you can enter a stitch of information into an Access database, you need to create that database’s structure. And even after you’ve defined that structure, you’ll probably want to spend more time creating other useful tools, like handy search routines and friendly forms that you can use to simplify data lookup and data entry. All of this setup takes effort and a good understanding of how databases work.
In this chapter, you’ll conquer any Access resistance you have, and learn to create a simple but functional database. Along the way, you’ll get acquainted with the slick Access user interface, and you’ll learn exactly what you can store in a database. You’ll then be ready to tackle the fine art of database design, which is covered in detail throughout this book.
What is Microsoft Access?
Microsoft Access is a Database Management System offered by Microsoft. It uses the Microsoft Jet Database Engine and comes as a part of the Microsoft Office suite of application.
Microsoft Access offers the functionality of a database and the programming capabilities to create easy to navigate screens (forms). It helps you analyze large amounts of information, and manage data efficiently.
A core aspect of software engineering is the subdivision of the development process into a series of phases, or steps, each of which focuses on one aspect of the development. The collection of these steps is sometimes referred to as the software development life cycle (SDLC). The software product moves through this life cycle (sometimes repeatedly as it is refined or redeveloped) until it is finally retired from use. Ideally, each phase in the life cycle can be checked for correctness before moving on to the next phase.