When you have a lot of data
to organize, putting it into a database can be a big help. The
right software makes it easy for you to add new data, to edit
existing data, to sort data, and to group your data into useful
forms and reports.
These lessons will introduce you to some simple types of
databases in Project 1. The later projects will teach you about relational databases, using
Common relational database management systems (RDBMS) include Microsoft
Access, Paradox, mySQL, DB2, Oracle and SQL Server.
Example: Database entry form, MS
Working with an existing
database may not strain your brain too much. Creating a database,
however, requires a lot of planning and thinking and adjusting.
This is definitely more difficult than writing a report in Word!
Where you are:
Before you start...
Project 1: Intro
Flat file databases
Project 2: Access Basics
Project 3: Tables & Queries
Project 4: Forms & Reports
Special Forms & Reports
What you need
Skills: Do not attempt the lessons in
Working with Databases until you have the following skills-
Windows skills: The skills covered in the
Windows unit - using
a mouse to click, double-click, drag, right click; parts of a
window; moving, resizing, maximizing, & minimizing a window;
scrolling; using the folder tree; creating and managing folders; naming
files; opening a program; opening and saving files; using dialog boxes;
using Help; printing.
- Typing skills: You need to be familiar with the
computer keyboard and have some skill in typing to do these exercises in
a reasonable amount of time.
- Basic editing skills: The editing skills covered in Working with
Windows: select text and objects, copy and paste, delete, move
text and objects by dragging.
- Recommended: Experience with spreadsheets like Excel
- Resource files: Files that you need to create
the documents in the projects are provided for download in a zip
file or in a self-extracting exe file. Your instructor may have put these files on your
To get these resource files,
one of the following links to download either a zipped set of files (if you have
WinZip or similar software for the PC) or a self-extracting file which will
extract the compressed files for you. (Some folks are intimidated by the
extension. This file is safe!)
A download dialog will appear.
Choose "Save". Choose a folder
on your hard drive for the file to be downloaded into.
After the file is downloaded, extract the compressed files.
If you downloaded the zip version, use your WinZip or similar program to do
this. If you downloaded the exe version, find the file in an Explorer or My Computer window and then double-click on
By default, the files will be put in c:\My Documents\complit101\databases\. Of course you can choose a different location if you wish. Just be sure to remember where you put the files.
Also in the resource files is a Word doc that lists what
objects are created in each project and exercise,
- Removable File Storage: USB drive or several floppy disks
need removable storage for a working copy and a backup copy of your
If you have a computer of your own or a network drive
folder, keep an up-to-date copy of your work there, too. Start good backup habits
early and you won't kick yourself later when your files are lost or
USB drive: Recommended
Called by many different names, including flash drive, flash pen, thumb
drive, key drive, jump drive, and mini-USB drive. A USB drive is an excellent choice
for storing your class work. Your data is much safer on a USB drive than
on a floppy disk. Just don't lose it!
Before you buy:
Check the following for both the classroom computer AND your home
- Computer does have USB ports.
- You are allowed to use one of the USB ports.
- You can physically get to the USB port.
Possible port locations: back of computer, front of computer, edge
or base of monitor, keyboard, or on a separate USB hub which has several
- Operating system will recognize a USB drive.
Windows 2000, XP, and Me will automatically recognize your USB drive.
For Win95 and Win98, you must install drivers for each brand of device
that you are using.
- Physical arrangement of USB ports - Are they side by
side? one above the other?
Some USB drives are wider or thicker than others and may not fit all
port arrangements, especially if a neighboring USB port has something plugged into it.
Many USB drives come with a short extension cable. Very useful!
If you do not have a computer at home, consider buying 2 USB
drives so that you can use one to keep a backup copy of your work. Don't
lose them both at the same time!
Floppy disks: Cheaper; Not as reliable; May be too small!
can quickly get too big to fit on a floppy disk, especially if images are
included in records.
You will need
two blank 3½"
floppy disks at a time to store the documents you create. One you
will use to save your documents as you work and on the other you will make
a backup copy of the first disk. Keep a third blank floppy on hand
as a spare in case of floppy disasters.
You'll need more than 2 floppy disks if you don't delete any
of the documents you create. After you have put more than one
document on the floppy, keep that spare blank floppy disk handy. It is no
fun at all to do a lot of work and then find that the changed file won't fit on
Floppy disks are cheap and handy but it is easy to lose
the data on them from magnetic damage and physical damage when you are
carrying them around all day. Be careful and have several backup copies.
More on caring for
floppy disks and caring for data
How to handle a full disk
was written for Microsoft Access, versions 2002 and
Not required but useful in Project 1: Intro-
Text editor such as Notepad- to work with the example
text database and exercise
Microsoft Excel - to work with the example spreadsheet
Microsoft Works - to work with the example flat file database
A footprint marks the hands-on topics, where you are to follow
Marks directions for what to do in case of trouble, in Step-by-Step directions.
Marks a tip - something you might find useful to know.
Marks a warning
about a potentially serious problem.
Disclaimer: All names, addresses, email addresses, and
phone numbers used in the lessons and exercises are fiction! Any
similarity to a real person, business, or place is a
The author cannot be
held responsible for any damage to hardware, software, or data resulting
from your attempts to follow the directions.