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Access or Excel?

 
 
WhiteRat
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      7th Dec 2009
Hi All,

I've meddled with spreadsheets and databases for years, but mostly just for
fun and curiosity. I now have a fairly large project at work, and I'm
looking for advice regarding whether Access or Excel would be my best
option.

For starters, most of us at work, myself included, have Office 2007
installed, and have XP SP3. There are a few here still running 2003, so most
of the work we do is in "compatibility mode". The nature of the work that we
do is to collect biologic data (blood chemistries, hematology, body weights,
food intake etc.) over periods of time ranging from days to months. What we
want to be able to do with the data we collect is to show results in various
configurations. We might want to show all of the serum glucose values for a
particular subject, or group means for subjects over a period of time. Or we
might want to show food intake, body weight and serum glucose levels for
individual subjects or groups of subjects over time, listed sequentially, or
by gender, by age, or other sorts of parameters. We also would like to be
able to produce graphs for presentation of this data.

We currently enter our data into Excel, and pretty much just configure the
spreadsheet to capture all of our raw data as it comes in. But currently,
our summary tables etc. are quite simple, mostly just showing summaries for
groups of subjects for particular parameters and at an individual time
point. We want to be able to do much more with our data, particularly for
reporting. At this time I'm just asking for some more expert advice with
respect to whether we should be expanding what we already do with Excel, or
would we be better off starting up a database in Access. I know that there
is a large amount of overlap, and that we could probably use either one to
do the job, but I'm looking for relative strengths and weaknesses for either
choice.

Also, we have some smart folks here, none that I'm aware of that have a lot
of database experience, but a few who are quite proficient with Excel. I'm
sure if there were a strong reason to move to a full fledged database at
this time however, that we'd have a plenty who would be interested in
getting up to speed with Access.

Thanks for reading all this, and thanks in advance for any opinions/advice

David


 
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Keith Wilby
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      7th Dec 2009
"WhiteRat" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:%(E-Mail Removed)...
> Hi All,
>
> I've meddled with spreadsheets and databases for years, but mostly just
> for fun and curiosity. I now have a fairly large project at work, and I'm
> looking for advice regarding whether Access or Excel would be my best
> option.
>
> For starters, most of us at work, myself included, have Office 2007
> installed, and have XP SP3. There are a few here still running 2003, so
> most of the work we do is in "compatibility mode". The nature of the work
> that we do is to collect biologic data (blood chemistries, hematology,
> body weights, food intake etc.) over periods of time ranging from days to
> months. What we want to be able to do with the data we collect is to show
> results in various configurations. We might want to show all of the serum
> glucose values for a particular subject, or group means for subjects over
> a period of time. Or we might want to show food intake, body weight and
> serum glucose levels for individual subjects or groups of subjects over
> time, listed sequentially, or by gender, by age, or other sorts of
> parameters. We also would like to be able to produce graphs for
> presentation of this data.
>
> We currently enter our data into Excel, and pretty much just configure the
> spreadsheet to capture all of our raw data as it comes in. But currently,
> our summary tables etc. are quite simple, mostly just showing summaries
> for groups of subjects for particular parameters and at an individual time
> point. We want to be able to do much more with our data, particularly for
> reporting. At this time I'm just asking for some more expert advice with
> respect to whether we should be expanding what we already do with Excel,
> or would we be better off starting up a database in Access. I know that
> there is a large amount of overlap, and that we could probably use either
> one to do the job, but I'm looking for relative strengths and weaknesses
> for either choice.
>
> Also, we have some smart folks here, none that I'm aware of that have a
> lot of database experience, but a few who are quite proficient with Excel.
> I'm sure if there were a strong reason to move to a full fledged database
> at this time however, that we'd have a plenty who would be interested in
> getting up to speed with Access.
>
> Thanks for reading all this, and thanks in advance for any opinions/advice
>
> David
>


It's important to stress that Excel is an application that will work for you
"out of the box". Access is a toolkit that will allow you to *build* an
application and will do nothing at all for you "out of the box". So, you
need to decide if you have the time/resource and what-have-you to develop an
application. If the answer is "no" then use Excel.

If it's "yes" then you need to start thinking about modelling your entities
and their attributes in a set of related tables and then start to build up a
user-interface. In short, Access isn't a "souped-up" Excel.

Keith.
www.keithwilby.co.uk

 
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Steve
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      7th Dec 2009
Hello David,

I think it all boils down to whether you need to continuously collect data
or whether you collect data for a particular study that has a definite
starting point and a definite ending point. If you need to continuously
collect data and then do an analysis periodically, Access is the tool of
choice. If you do studies with a definite start and end point, Excel is the
tool of choice.

Steve
(E-Mail Removed)


"WhiteRat" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:%(E-Mail Removed)...
> Hi All,
>
> I've meddled with spreadsheets and databases for years, but mostly just
> for fun and curiosity. I now have a fairly large project at work, and I'm
> looking for advice regarding whether Access or Excel would be my best
> option.
>
> For starters, most of us at work, myself included, have Office 2007
> installed, and have XP SP3. There are a few here still running 2003, so
> most of the work we do is in "compatibility mode". The nature of the work
> that we do is to collect biologic data (blood chemistries, hematology,
> body weights, food intake etc.) over periods of time ranging from days to
> months. What we want to be able to do with the data we collect is to show
> results in various configurations. We might want to show all of the serum
> glucose values for a particular subject, or group means for subjects over
> a period of time. Or we might want to show food intake, body weight and
> serum glucose levels for individual subjects or groups of subjects over
> time, listed sequentially, or by gender, by age, or other sorts of
> parameters. We also would like to be able to produce graphs for
> presentation of this data.
>
> We currently enter our data into Excel, and pretty much just configure the
> spreadsheet to capture all of our raw data as it comes in. But currently,
> our summary tables etc. are quite simple, mostly just showing summaries
> for groups of subjects for particular parameters and at an individual time
> point. We want to be able to do much more with our data, particularly for
> reporting. At this time I'm just asking for some more expert advice with
> respect to whether we should be expanding what we already do with Excel,
> or would we be better off starting up a database in Access. I know that
> there is a large amount of overlap, and that we could probably use either
> one to do the job, but I'm looking for relative strengths and weaknesses
> for either choice.
>
> Also, we have some smart folks here, none that I'm aware of that have a
> lot of database experience, but a few who are quite proficient with Excel.
> I'm sure if there were a strong reason to move to a full fledged database
> at this time however, that we'd have a plenty who would be interested in
> getting up to speed with Access.
>
> Thanks for reading all this, and thanks in advance for any opinions/advice
>
> David
>



 
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Fred
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      7th Dec 2009
Keith gave important points relating to the expertise side of using Access
vs. Excel. In short, database development takes more expertise and areas of
expertise than spreadsheet development.

In short, databases are a much more powerful and versatile way to handle
information.

The one area where spreadsheets are more powerful are in doing real-time
mathematics, which is mathematical relationships between cells.

The most common application attribute that would make Excel unsuitable (and
which Access handles easily) is a need to record and manage data or data
entities which has a "many to one" nature. I suspect that this might arise
in your application in which case you will be faced with the choice of
handling it badly in Excell vs. a bigger learning curve (or needing to get
outside help) of going the database route.






 
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WhiteRat
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      8th Dec 2009
Thank you all for your input. These are the sorts of considerations I was
hoping to have pointed out, and they will help us in our decision-making
process.

"WhiteRat" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:%(E-Mail Removed)...
> Hi All,
>
> I've meddled with spreadsheets and databases for years, but mostly just
> for fun and curiosity. I now have a fairly large project at work, and I'm
> looking for advice regarding whether Access or Excel would be my best
> option.
>
> For starters, most of us at work, myself included, have Office 2007
> installed, and have XP SP3. There are a few here still running 2003, so
> most of the work we do is in "compatibility mode". The nature of the work
> that we do is to collect biologic data (blood chemistries, hematology,
> body weights, food intake etc.) over periods of time ranging from days to
> months. What we want to be able to do with the data we collect is to show
> results in various configurations. We might want to show all of the serum
> glucose values for a particular subject, or group means for subjects over
> a period of time. Or we might want to show food intake, body weight and
> serum glucose levels for individual subjects or groups of subjects over
> time, listed sequentially, or by gender, by age, or other sorts of
> parameters. We also would like to be able to produce graphs for
> presentation of this data.
>
> We currently enter our data into Excel, and pretty much just configure the
> spreadsheet to capture all of our raw data as it comes in. But currently,
> our summary tables etc. are quite simple, mostly just showing summaries
> for groups of subjects for particular parameters and at an individual time
> point. We want to be able to do much more with our data, particularly for
> reporting. At this time I'm just asking for some more expert advice with
> respect to whether we should be expanding what we already do with Excel,
> or would we be better off starting up a database in Access. I know that
> there is a large amount of overlap, and that we could probably use either
> one to do the job, but I'm looking for relative strengths and weaknesses
> for either choice.
>
> Also, we have some smart folks here, none that I'm aware of that have a
> lot of database experience, but a few who are quite proficient with Excel.
> I'm sure if there were a strong reason to move to a full fledged database
> at this time however, that we'd have a plenty who would be interested in
> getting up to speed with Access.
>
> Thanks for reading all this, and thanks in advance for any opinions/advice
>
> David
>



 
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