Access or Excel?

Discussion in 'Microsoft Access Getting Started' started by WhiteRat, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. WhiteRat

    WhiteRat Guest

    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
     
    WhiteRat, Dec 7, 2009
    #1
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  2. WhiteRat

    Keith Wilby Guest

    "WhiteRat" <> wrote in message
    news:%...
    > 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
     
    Keith Wilby, Dec 7, 2009
    #2
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  3. WhiteRat

    Steve Guest

    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



    "WhiteRat" <> wrote in message
    news:%...
    > 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
    >
     
    Steve, Dec 7, 2009
    #3
  4. WhiteRat

    Fred Guest

    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.
     
    Fred, Dec 7, 2009
    #4
  5. WhiteRat

    WhiteRat Guest

    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" <> wrote in message
    news:%...
    > 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
    >
     
    WhiteRat, Dec 8, 2009
    #5
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