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On 02/07/2012 11:51 AM, Nino Novak wrote:
On Tuesday 07 February 2012, Jay Lozier wrote:

Two related issues are a problem: spreadsheets are relatively easy to
set up and enter data with some inflexibility while databases harder to
set up and without the right front end tools some tricky to properly
enter data but are much more flexible.
As a consequence: It would help most, if the database set up barrier could be

We therefore should ask (and try to learn) what makes database creation so
difficult, and how could we contribute to ease the learing curve?
I think the biggest barrier is not the tools to set up a database but the design process of setting up a database. Databases generally are design first then use while spreadsheets tend to be more design as you go. Databases require one to think more clearly about the data and how to model relationships within the data before one actually creates any tables, forms, etc. What is it I am trying to do with the data and how is the data best represented/stored/manipulated are questions that are often addressed in database design. The thinking about the data model is often a good exercise but one that can be skipped when using a spreadsheet as a database.

One problem is that people often want to jump in and start doing something when a little thinking should be done or how it should be done. Spreadsheets are easier to jump in and start with so often the planning is not done. Thus often spreadsheet users have databases that are nightmares because of poor data design. These are problems that are less common with databases because databases force more thought on data modeling.

IMHO, the real problem is that good data modeling is not usually taught to users and unless they start working with databases they never learn data modeling. Most books on using databases will, if briefly, discuss the concepts of data modeling and database design. I do not remember any book on a spreadsheet discussing it or even mentioning it.

Or directly: how can we make database creation easy and a low-threshold task?
I think some of the tools make the actual creation of a database reasonably easy though data importing is often a pain.

(Just a thought)

who has never got familiar with databases "because of their complexity" (at
least from an innocent user's point of view). OTOH, I've never seen really
good tools for database creation (and change btw). So maybe, we could add to
database usability by creating Really Good Tools(TM) for creating, changing,
filling and quering databases.

Jay Lozier

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