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App suggestions for managing data & link library?

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#1
David Medeiros

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The library I'm working for uses Excel to track and manage their base file inventory as well as their master list of links to online data. We've been asked to update the spreadsheet and make them more useable but it's really difficult, Excel is not the right tool for this. For those of you who have to manage large data libraries or sets of links, what do you use?

I know we need to be using a database program, I'm just not sure which one. It should be relatively simple, allow you to setup a basic database with a graphical user interface instead of a spreadsheet for input and retrieval. I have never used Filemaker Pro but it seems like it would work. Any other suggestions for how to manage this kind of information and data?

Thanks,

David

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#2
dsl

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If you are looking for something small scale and local. Microsoft Access does allow you to create simple data entry forms. Since they already have excel, do they have Access as well? This wouldn't require purchasing another piece of software.

HTH,
David

#3
Adam Wilbert

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I am a little biased on this topic, but I'd second the nomination for Access. It would be pretty straight forward to import all of their Excel spreadsheets into Access tables and start building a simple database without a lot of new learning on the part of the staff, since the two programs share so many interface similarities. And it is very likely they already have the software licenses in place.

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#4
David Medeiros

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So I haven't used access much beside some simple table editing for Arc. I wasn't aware that it had a form interface function. What I envision is a database where once set up data entry would be through an interface using drop down entries and empty fields for various attributes (File name, extent or coverage of data, data type, tags, main category, sub category, description, location of file on our servers or link to the data online). All of this would be entered though the type of graphic menu you would use for a contacts list and would search and retrieve links in the same way.

Access uses that kind of interface?

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#5
jrat

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So I haven't used access much beside some simple table editing for Arc. I wasn't aware that it had a form interface function. What I envision is a database where once set up data entry would be through an interface using drop down entries and empty fields for various attributes (File name, extent or coverage of data, data type, tags, main category, sub category, description, location of file on our servers or link to the data online). All of this would be entered though the type of graphic menu you would use for a contacts list and would search and retrieve links in the same way.

Access uses that kind of interface?


access will do all that you want. I have made db in access that are a little more complicated that what you are suggesting. If you want really slick forms and navigation you will need to use some vba. To set up queries is straight forward. The only catch is that anyone who wants to use it will need to have access on their machine or you need to purchase a developers licence. You can import you excell spread sheet into access then manipulate it to how you want is structured. Fairly easy and their are lots of resources online for access.

#6
dsl

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You can also set up all the lookup tables you might need for the combo boxes, either as separate tables or embedded in the columns. There is even a wizard to setup the form, although, you'll probably need to fix it up manually.

Cheers,
David

#7
Adam Wilbert

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...Access uses that kind of interface?


Yup! You can lock down the database so typical users don't get to see anything but the data entry forms. The form fields can be restricted to specific selections, a list of selections plus the ability to create new entries, or force manually typed data fit to specific rules to maintain data integrity and consistency.

Here's a screenshot of something I worked on for Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve several years ago:
Attached File  permitdetails.png   98.31KB   34 downloads

Adam Wilbert
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#8
David Medeiros

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I found about 10 free minutes to look into Access at work today. Needless to say I didn't get very far and my uneducated button poking didn't reveal any quick solutions. I'm afraid Access will require more education time than I have for this right now. I'll see if there are any tutorials included with the software but what I was hoping for is a WYSIWYG database construction wizard or interface.

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#9
Andrew Patterson

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I found about 10 free minutes to look into Access at work today. Needless to say I didn't get very far and my uneducated button poking didn't reveal any quick solutions. I'm afraid Access will require more education time than I have for this right now. I'll see if there are any tutorials included with the software but what I was hoping for is a WYSIWYG database construction wizard or interface.


Its been years since I worked on Access, but I think its as close as you're going to get to WYSIWYG DB construction. I remember it had modes that showed tables with lines connecting keys & whatnot. It has wizards to build forms too, that much I remember. If you're looking for a quick way to get something up & running, Access really is your best bet probably.
Andrew Patterson
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Avenza Systems Inc.

email: andrew@avenza.com
phone: 416.487.5116




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