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Importance of Good Database Design (and 7 Steps to Achieve It)

Good database design is essential for reliable, complete and accurate data. Certain principles lead the way in database design. These principles include not having redundant data and ensuring all information is complete and correct. When you know that your database is properly designed, you can trust it to make strategic decisions. 

Let’s learn more about the importance of good database design and seven steps to achieve it. 

Why Good Database Design Matters 

Let’s look closer at the guiding principles in database design

The first principle addresses duplicate information. Redundant data is considered bad because it wastes space and increases the chances of making errors. This is understandable, as repeating data can show up in reports when it doesn’t need to be there.

The second principle is that all information within the database must be correct and complete. If your database contains inaccurate information, any reports pulled from the database will be misleading. 

To have good database design, your database should be able to do the following: 

  • Divide information into subject-based tables 
  • Support the accuracy and integrity of the data 
  • Give Access the information it needs to join information together 
  • Accommodate data processing and reporting needs 

Seven Steps to Achieving Good Database Design 

To ensure good database design, here are seven steps to follow. 

1. Determine your database’s purpose. There are multiple types of database management systems, such as relational databases, object databases and graph databases. Determine what database will best fit your needs. 

2. Find and organize information. Gather all types of information you might want to enter into the database like product names and order numbers. 

3. Divide the information into tables. Organize your information based on subjects or categories, such as Products or Orders. Each subject becomes its own table. 

4. Place information items into columns. Decide what information you want to store in each table. Each item becomes a field and is displayed as a column in a table. For example, a Customers table might include First Name, Last Name and Address.

5. Specify primary keys. Choose a primary key for each table. The primary key is used to identify each row, such as Product ID or Order ID.

6. Establish relationships. Decide how the information is related to the information in other tables. Add fields to tables or create new tables if you need to reinforce the relationships. 

7. Refine your design. Review your design for errors. Create tables and see if you can get accurate data. Also, apply normalization rules to make sure your tables are structured properly. 

While you don’t need to be a coding expert to use Microsoft Access, good database design requires some experience. To have a database built or optimized for your company, contact Arkware today.

Database Solutions for Construction Management

A large part of being in the construction industry is being able to deliver projects on time and on budget. Rather than using limited software to keep track of projects, project managers use databases to define custom projects, create workflows and keep everyone in the loop.

Arkware provides database solutions for project managers in the construction industry. We have helped a number of clients streamline their operations, improve safety and efficiency and increase communication. To learn more about our database solutions, contact us today for a free consultation.

In the meantime, here are some of the ways that project managers use database software to run safer and more efficient operations.

Field & Site Management

Having a central database allows all partners to communicate with each other and manage documents in real time. Plus, critical business information can be accessed at any time, allowing partners to make informed decisions. This helps projects to be completed on time and to the highest standards. A single platform where everyone is kept in the loop also provides peace of mind for project managers who can’t be on site all of the time.

Estimating & Bidding

Custom estimation and bidding software makes it easy to stay on track with your budget and ensure everything is accounted for. After all, projects that go over budget can have your company losing money. Estimation software lets project managers run accurate projections for what each part of the project will cost. There are also options to prepare and manage bids.

Equipment & Inventory Tracking

To ensure your project has everything it needs, it’s important to keep tabs on equipment and inventory. Database solutions help project managers stay up to date on the statuses of their parts and materials by sharing real-time updates. Also included is fleet management for dispatch, scheduling and maintenance tracking. This ensures that all fleet are accounted for and properly managed.

Mobile Integrations

Thankfully, today’s database solutions aren’t limited to your desktop computer. After all, you’re probably on the go and away from your desk most of the time! Thanks to mobile platforms, project managers can talk to vendors and field teams, review project plans, approve time cards, access project contacts and more. Everything can be easily accessed on any mobile device from anywhere in the world.

These are just a few examples of how database software can be used to streamline operations, improve efficiency and protect customer data all from a single platform. For more information on how Arkware can work with your construction company, contact us today.

Microsoft Access Web App vs Desktop Database

One of the first steps in building a database is to decide whether you want to build a web app or a desktop database. There are benefits for both, so you’ll need to consider your needs, the people you’re looking to share the database with and your purpose for the database. Luckily, Microsoft Access offers a gallery of templates to make your job easier, regardless of which option you choose.

Let’s discuss the differences between a web app and a desktop database and how to choose the right one for your needs.

What is a Web App?

An Access web app is a web database that runs on most browsers. Everyone on your team can open and use this database in their browsers, no matter where they are or the device they are on.

Microsoft recommends using Microsoft PowerApps to build web apps without using any code. You can even use this program if you don’t have Microsoft Access. The fastest way to get started is by using a template. All web app templates have a picture of a globe in the background. You can also customize a web app from scratch, though this takes longer.

What is a Desktop Database?

A desktop database is a database system that runs on a single computer. Everyone can connect to the computer that the database is stored on, though each user will need to have Access installed.

Microsoft has a number of templates that can be used to build a database. All Access desktop database templates have a table icon in the background. You can also create one from scratch by making your own forms, tables, reports and other database objects.

Deciding Whether to Use a Web App or Desktop Database

Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you choose whether to build a web app or desktop database.

  • IT requirements. Use an Access app if you want the reliability and scalability of storing data in SQL Server. Also, you can benefit from the latest features as soon as they become available. Though you will have to wait longer for these features to come to desktop databases, use this option if you need to consolidate data from different data sources.
  • Data and design. Web apps are best if you want to share the data with people from inside and outside of your organization. Anyone who has permission can view and edit the data, even if they don’t have Access. Choose a desktop database if everyone will be using the database from a networked computer and has an Access account.
  • Business goals. We recommend web apps for straightforward business needs and simplified solutions. Also, any changes made in a web app are immediate. Databases are more complex but also more customizable. You have full control of the user experience and access to complex functions like Visual Basic and linking to external data.

If you need to build a web app or a new database for your business or organization, contact Arkware today. Even though you don’t need to be a coding expert to use Microsoft Access, it helps to know what you are doing. We can set up your web app or database properly and make sure it provides your business with consistent, accurate and trustworthy information. Contact us today for your free consultation.

3 Things to Know About Databases

At first glance, a database looks almost like a spreadsheet. It has arranged columns and rows and holds data just as a spreadsheet does. However, things get a lot different from this point forward. Databases are far more powerful than spreadsheets, allowing you to do a lot more with them. This is why businesses and organizations large and small use databases to efficiently run their operations.

Below are three important things to know about databases.

1. Databases are relational and can cross-reference records in different tables.

Most databases are relational, which means you can create relationships between tables to compare and contrast data. For example, if you linked a Customers table with an Orders table, you could bring up the entire order history for a specific customer. You could also refine this data based on a certain time period or purchase total.

Additionally, databases have broad search functionality that allows businesses to pull up all information in a matter of seconds. This helps people make smart business decisions. Databases are also capable of updating records in bulk so that users don’t have to go through and update everything manually. In the end, databases are incredible tools that offer far more functionality than traditional spreadsheets.

2. Databases have a structure that is made up of columns and rows.

Databases contain tables and rows, and all data is separated by categories to avoid duplication. For instance, a retail business might have a database that contains a Customers table, an Orders table and a Products table.

Within each table, the rows are called records and the cells are called fields. Each field holds a specific type of data, such as a number or date that is formatted consistently. This allows users to pull up accurate, consistent information.

Furthermore, the tables are linked through a key, which is an ID that identifies each row. There is a primary key for each table, and any table that needs to link to that table will have a foreign key. You can read more about choosing a good primary key in an earlier post.

3. Microsoft Access is one of the most popular database programs.

Microsoft Access remains one of the most popular and reliable database programs on the market. It’s affordable, easy to implement and can be scaled to accommodate growing businesses. If your business needs something more powerful than Access, you may want to upgrade to a server database that uses SQL, such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle.

No matter what your database needs are, Arkware can help. We get businesses set up with databases like Microsoft Access as well as upgrade them to server databases. Using the right database ensures efficient, productive operations and the ability to make smart business decisions. Contact us today for your free consultation.


How Databases Support Ecommerce Businesses

Some ecommerce businesses use databases, which is why you may see terms like “database backed” or “cloud database.” All this means is that the ecommerce system uses a database. If you have an online business, you may be asking if having a database is good or bad and what it can do for you.  

In this post, we’re going to explore the different types of data that ecommerce databases organize and the benefits of adding one to your application.

Databases and Types of Data

In simple terms, a database is a system that organizes data. For ecommerce sites, data falls into one of two categories:

  • Site content. Site content is what you see when you’re browsing an ecommerce site. This data generates HTML pages such as content pages (about us, FAQs, shipping), product pages (price, dimension, weight) and category pages (grouping similar products together).  
  • Transactional data. Transactional data is a result of visitors taking action on your pages. When an ecommerce application is first created, it has no transactional data. But, as customers make purchases, transactional data is created. Examples include customer orders and inventory updates.

Benefits of Ecommerce Databases

There’s a reason why so many ecommerce businesses use databases – they work! Need to check on a customer’s order? It’s in the database. Want to know the shipping dimensions of a specific product? It’s in the database.

When you use a database to handle your data, your web application can ignore the details and focus on the presentation of the data. As a result, the web application will be simpler and easier to understand. Your customers will appreciate a fast and smooth shopping process, too!

Here are a few more things an ecommerce database can do.

  • Track customer orders. It’s difficult to track and manage transactions because there is so much information included in each. Rather than being consumed by all of these details, a database can track customer orders for you.
  • Organize products. If you have a large inventory, a database will come in handy. Ecommerce databases can organize products while taking into account their variants, styles and combinations.
  • Structure store data. A database puts structure around your data. When everything is organized in the same way, it makes creating code easier. Plus, your application doesn’t have to manage the data, only the structure.

If you have an ecommerce business and are considering using a database to support your data, contact Arkware today at 877-519-4537.


What is an ODBC Compliant Database?

Open DataBase Connectivity, or ODBC, is a standard application programming interface (API) that was originally developed in the 1990s by Microsoft and Simba Technologies. The purpose of ODBC is to make it possible to access information from any application, regardless of the database system being used. Microsoft Access is an example of an ODBC compliant database.

How important is ODBC and what does it enable you to do? Let’s learn more about ODBC and why the most popular database management systems are compliant.

What Does ODBC Compliance Mean, Exactly?

When a database is ODBC compliant, it means that it can exchange information with other databases. This is made possible with ODBC drivers that let different database programs communicate with each other and understand the data being exchanged. ODBC has been used for over 25 years and has become the industry standard in the database field.

There are four components to ODBC that work together to allow functions:

  • Application. Any ODBC compliant application can be used, such as Microsoft Excel or Crystal Reports. The application performs processing by receiving results from the ODBC driver manager and passing SQL statements.
  • Driver manager. Drivers are loaded for each application. Windows comes with a driver manager of its own, whereas other programs have the choice to use an open source ODBC driver manager like iODBC.
  • Driver. The driver handles ODBC function calls and submits each SQL request to a data source. Results are returned to the application.
  • Data source. The data source refers to the data being accessed and its associated database management systems. It could be any type of data, ranging from a simple file to a live data feed.

What Databases are ODBC Compliant?

Microsoft Access is compliant with ODBC, but there are many other databases that are as well. These include:

  • MySQL
  • Oracle
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Visual FoxPro
  • IBM DB2

ODBC is very common, so it’s likely that whatever database program you are using is ODBC compliant. If you’re unsure, check your database’s manual, contact your developer or give Arkware a call at 877-519-4537. We’re always happy to help!