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On 09/12/2012 02:00 AM, JAMES MAJESKI wrote:
My research has convinced me that I do not have neither the time nor the
resources to set up and maintain a database. I might consider it if all of
the data were received in the same layout, but the layout is as varied as
are the sources. Since I am the only one that is using the data, a
spreadsheet serves me best as I am able to freely add, delete, and modify
the layout, format, calculations, etc. Something a for which a database has
never been designed.

If I had many collaborators to work on the project, perhaps a database may
be of more use, but since I do not, I do not need the added headache of
trying to setup and maintain an additional level of complexity.

This is the conclusion I have drawn based upon the available documentation
on the internet and conversations with people that have worked with their
company's database. They all say it does not work until the processes are
resolved to the point that they need not change. One person explained the
problems that occurred when their processes did require a major
modification. After weeks of attempting to make the required modifications,
it was decided to set up another database. Then they went through months of
consultation and headache to get the essential data transferred from the old
database into the new one.

A database is a good tool to keep track of large amounts of data and
tracking processes, but unless it is a big company that has unchanging
processes, a database may be more of a liability than a help. With my data
constantly evolving, a database would need to be modified on a regular basis
and I am unwilling to invest the extra time to do so. All my data fits on a
spreadsheet and is easily modified as the sources are added or deleted as
each source has a different idea as to how the data should be presented.

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Databases are very useful even for small projects because of the
querying capabilities of a database. Base and Access (MSO) are both
relational databases meaning that the data tables are related and
queries can search for data in any table. Relational databases require
that the tables be predefined and this can be a problem for data entry
when the data is not received in the same format as the data tables.

Another option for a database is a NoSQL database such as MongoDB or
CouchDB (both are FOSS projects) where the database "tables" do not
require a predefined layout and what may take multiple linked tables in
a relational database can be done in one "table". For example a book in
a relational database may have multiple authors, formats (different ISBN
numbers), and subjects. In a relational database you would have a table
for the book (title, year, publisher), another for authors, another for
ISBN numbers, and another for subjects. In a NoSQL database one could
combine this information into one "table". The data can be searched.

Another problem is that often the MSO bundle does not include Access so
a user who needs a database is either forced to find one or use Excel as
a substitute.

Jay Lozier

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