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Designing a database

A database consists of a collection of tables that stores a set of structured data. Designing a database requires an understanding of both the business functions you want to model and the database concepts and features used to represent those business functions. Your database should be easy to maintain and must not cause performance bottlenecks.

Tables are database objects that contain all the data in a database. A table contains a collection of rows and columns. Each column in the table is designed to store a certain type of data.  Each table contains data about only one subject, such as customers. Therefore, you update a particular piece of data, such as an address, in just one place and that change automatically appears throughout the database.

Tables can have indexes similar to those in books that allow rows to be found quickly. Each table should contain information about one subject. Your list of fields will provide clues to the tables you need. For example, you might have a table for Customers, a table for Products, and a table for Orders.

Design Considerations

A well-designed database usually contains different types of views that show the information you need. A view might show a subset of data, such as all customers in a certain city, or combinations of data from different tables, such as order information combined with customer information. It is important to accurately design a database to model the business because it can be time consuming to change the design of a database significantly once implemented. A well-designed database also performs better.

The results you want from your database don't necessarily provide clues about how you should structure the tables in your database. Before you actually build tables, views, forms, and other objects, it's a good idea to sketch out your database design on paper first. You can open the sample database in BaseNow (the 'Data\Sample Database.mdb' file) and then open the Relationships Manager to examine its design.

Gathering information

The first step in designing a database is to determine its purpose and how it's to be used. You must have a good understanding of the job the database is expected to perform. As you determine the purpose of your database, a list of information you want from the database will begin to emerge. From that, you can determine what facts you need to store in the database. These facts correspond to the fields (columns) in tables During the process of gathering information, you must identify the key objects or entities that will be managed by the database. The object can be a person or a product, or it can be a business transaction, or a department in a company. There are usually a few primary objects, and after these are identified, the related items become apparent. Those objects correspond to the tables.


Related Topics:

Normalization

Database performance

Creating a new database

Create a table

How to create a database

About Create Database Wizard

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