Relational Databases and Microsoft Access
Ron McFadyen, University of Winnipeg
Copyright Year: 2016
Publisher: Ron McFadyen
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This text provides a reasonably comprehensive review of relational database principles using Microsoft Access. Given that this textbook was designed for second-level students, with no intended prerequisite, the level of detail that is included to... read more
This text provides a reasonably comprehensive review of relational database principles using Microsoft Access. Given that this textbook was designed for second-level students, with no intended prerequisite, the level of detail that is included to familiarize the students with the MS Access software is well detailed and appropriate. Newly introduced concepts are followed by hands-on examples that reinforce the knowledge being conveyed. Pre-build, introductory databases are available as support material for the exercises (where applicable). The author elaborates on theories and approaches to new concepts in a relatable manner that is easy to follow. Although the text covers Tables, Forms, and Queries, it does not touch upon Reports, which I would have found helpful, even as a brief reference. Upon review, I would recommend this book and would even consider incorporating the introductory chapters into my first-level courses while leaving the advanced chapters to my second-level students.
Ideally, the text would have been updated to reflect the MS Office 2019 version. Although most of MS Access has remained the similar throughout the multiple upgrades between the 2007 and 2019 versions, there are some differences. For example, some of the Data Types that are outlined and detailed in this text are not relevant in MS Access 2019. I also noticed that the author made multiple references to the "cursor", when in fact, it should have been referred to as the "insertion point". It is not a critical concern, but something that I make a point to discern when working with my students.
As previously stated, MS Access ages well and is mostly relevant even though this text was designed with visual aids from the 2007 version. Most, if not all, of the concepts and theories covered within this book are still applicable and would be relevant today. With the idea of remaining relevant, one additional modification that I would recommend for an updated version of this text would be to eliminate the reference to Gender as a Table Field. There are plenty of other, relevant fields that could be substituted in its place.
I like the approach that the author took in explaining the idea of verbalizing the table data to make it easier for students to understand. I also appreciate that the author included troubleshooting techniques as MS Access specific tasks were being relayed.
The author provided a consistent layout as well as utilized consistent terminology throughout the text.
The text can be easily segmented into different concepts as well as by the different MS Access objects (i.e. Tables, Queries, Forms) if necessary. As previously mentioned, the introductory levels could easily be used to familiarize, first-level, students with the MS Access software.
The topics were presented in a logical manner that increased in difficulty with a well explained approach to each new concept.
The images were clear and reasonably abundant.
As previously mentioned, I did notice use of the term "cursor" when it should have been referred to as the "insertion point".
Although this is not culture specific, as previously mentioned, I would suggest eliminating the Gender Field from the Employees Table and substitute it with something more appropriate and relevant.
Overall, I would recommend this text to anyone looking to explore Relational Databases via Microsoft Access.
Comprehensiveness rating: 4 The text delivers an in-depth and comprehensive explanation of relational database theory and design. The learning outcomes focus on Microsoft Access skills necessary to create a new database, construct data tables,... read more
Comprehensiveness rating: 4 The text delivers an in-depth and comprehensive explanation of relational database theory and design. The learning outcomes focus on Microsoft Access skills necessary to create a new database, construct data tables, design forms and create queries. Report objects are not addressed and should be.
Content was presented clearly and accurately.
There might be a slight variation in the menus depending on the Access version that you’re currently using. Yet, the concepts are virtually the same for Access 2010, 2013 and 2016.
Author’s language and style are suitable for a second-year course on database systems. Readability factors to include interest, quality of print, sentence complexity, and word choice are good,
There is consistency regarding terminology and outline.
Sequencing of the chapters is appropriate and consistent with the same structure, layout and organization of the content.
There is consistent format from chapter to chapter. I was impressed with the relevant exercises at completion of each lesson. Good visuals such as tables and figures in the examples. But I would like to see more visuals in exercises.
The information is organized logically and is it well-structured. Easy to navigate. There should be a glossary, however.
I encountered no problems with the grammar.
Found no cultural insensitivity.
The author overall did a splendid job. I would highly recommend this textbook.
Good basic introduction to relational database design concepts using MS Access examples, but it did not include a comprehensive discussion with current examples/references for some of the Table of Contents topics. It could be improved by including... read more
Good basic introduction to relational database design concepts using MS Access examples, but it did not include a comprehensive discussion with current examples/references for some of the Table of Contents topics. It could be improved by including additional descriptions/references for some database design topics, such as normalization (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/283878/description-of-the-database-normalization-basics), and more current examples (or references) from MS Access 2019/Office 365 versions (https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/access/).
Content was accurate, error-free and unbiased. However, some MS Access examples were not consistent with the version currently used at our university.
Discussion and relevance of the relational database design topics was very good, but the MS Access examples were less relevant, since they were based on MS Access 2013-2016 versions. The book could be improved and require less updates if there were fewer internal MS Access examples and more use of external references, such as Microsoft Product Support (https://support.office.com/en-us/access) for examples.
Well-written, but it could be improved with more current examples (or references to examples) for MS Access queries, forms and reports.
Consistent structure and terminology throughout the book.
Chapter and sub-section modularity were adequate to allow reorganizing the course topics as required.
Organization was not ideal for the way I would cover the material in my course, but the modularity was adequate to allow reorganizing the topics without causing significant problems for the students.
The text is easy to navigate.
No grammatical errors were noted.
No culturally offensive examples in the book.
This version does not meet my needs in its current form, but I would consider using it as a supplementary textbook for an introductory CIS courses. While it covered most relational database design topics very well, the MS Access examples were not as good as the references I provided in my feedback.
The book is a good introductory database text that covers database design and includes some Access basics. A good table of contents is included but no glossary. There are a few references to external sources, primarily classic works in the... read more
The book is a good introductory database text that covers database design and includes some Access basics. A good table of contents is included but no glossary. There are a few references to external sources, primarily classic works in the database field. Creation and manipulation of Access tables, queries, and forms are introduced, but reports are not even mentioned. Six small example database files are included at the textbook Website which could be used as-is with this book or expanded for more hands-on activities with Access. Numerous examples and exercises are provided throughout the book that again could be used as-is or used as the foundation for additional activities. There are no PowerPoint slides sets but they aren’t necessarily required for this type of text.
The book had no obvious errors or biases.
The coverage on database design is very good and so obsolescence is not an issue. The Access content is up-to-date for Access 2013-2016, but now that 2019 has been released, the book will likely need to be updated.
The book is well-written and easy to understand. Numerous figures and screen shots are included.
The book’s use of terminology and structure is consistent throughout.
The text starts with Access content and finishes with database design. The book includes exercises throughout the text that make it easy to assign smaller reading sections. It is written in such a way that it should be easy to cover the database design first and Access last if preferred.
The organization, structure, and flow of the book is good. The only issue found was the discussion of the MyUniversity database on p. 30 which the book states is found at the book Website but it is not – it will need to be newly created. There are a couple other places where the instructions switch from one database to another without clearly stating it is doing that, but the example databases are different enough that is isn’t difficult to reason through which database is being discussed.
No interface issues were noticed. The book is formatted nicely and looks very professional.
No grammar issues were apparent. The book is well-written.
No issues were apparent. The database examples were typical of those found in a database course.
This book may not meet the needs of everyone but should have some content that most everyone can use. It covers database design more deeply than I would have expected for an introductory text. Its overall Access coverage was very basic yet I was surprised in a couple places where in-depth query techniques were discussed. For those wishing to have students complete a full Access project, adopters of this text will need to create that content. It is possible that one or more of the Access example databases could be the foundation of a project but a good bit of time will need to be spent to expand them.
The text does a solid job of providing a comprehensive explanation of basic relational database theory and Microsoft Access functionality, specifically regarding table structure. The breadth of detail on forms and queries is not as extensive as... read more
The text does a solid job of providing a comprehensive explanation of basic relational database theory and Microsoft Access functionality, specifically regarding table structure. The breadth of detail on forms and queries is not as extensive as the chapter on tables, but it is good. As a resource for an Introduction to Microsoft Office applications, this text provides more than enough detail of tables, forms and queries to meet my objectives. While I did not notice any content on Access reports, this omission does not diminish the adequacy of this text for a basic computer applications course. In fact, I will likely only utilize half of this text to supplement my other Microsoft Office resources.
Did not notice any errors in the text's material or grammar. Not even any Canadian lingo - which was a minor disappointment. :)
For the most part, the text is software-version-neutral. The examples and illustrations do not appear to be specific to any version of Microsoft Office, which will allow it to be relative for longer than the typical software text.
The prose is consistent and easy to follow. However, while the chapter on tables is very detailed, the content on forms lacks clarity and needs additional examples. The Exercises are weak, and not extensive. Students would benefit from more hands-on examples. with accompanying illustrations.
Author does a fine job of presenting the material in a consistent manner. The framework from chapter to chapter is true.
The text is divided into appropriate chapters. I plan to use about 80 of the 221 pages for my course, primarily from the first six chapters.
The text's organization is on-point. I appreciated the early discussion of database theory followed by coverage of tables, forms, and then queries. This is the appropriate structure for creating and learning about databases. An over-arching exercise that tied these three objects together would bring even more flow to this structure.
There were no issues regarding navigation of the text or it's images.
The grammar was spotless, and the author had no need to apologize for any grammatical errors. The author was wise to avoid any exercises utilizing terms like color or check.
I found no issues regarding cultural insensitivity.
I was very pleased to find an Access book that covers Entity Relationship Modeling and Normalization. Having an Access book that includes database theory, such as the Boyce-Codd Normal Form, is very useful to me. In this area, the book is very... read more
I was very pleased to find an Access book that covers Entity Relationship Modeling and Normalization. Having an Access book that includes database theory, such as the Boyce-Codd Normal Form, is very useful to me. In this area, the book is very comprehensive. However, its treatment of topics typically covered in an early Access class may not be sufficient for it to be used as the primary book in a course. The introduction of core concepts start out strong. Chapter 2 provides an adequate introduction to table design, and it goes into a good level of detail. However, this pattern does not continue, as the next chapters jump directly into the details of query and form design. What's there is good, but more information as to how each object is used would be helpful. Finally, using Access to create reports is omitted entirely. This is unfortunate, as having a built-in reporting tool is something that makes Access unique in the world of database software.
Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased.
The fundamentals of relational-database design has changed little since the late 70's. The book acknowledges this, and uses these fundamentals as its foundation. It is likely to age well.
Providing additional context for the use of queries and forms would help to with the technical nature of these topics.
The book made consistent use of database terminology.
This book appears to have been compiled so that it can be easily divided into modules. For example, I plan to make use of the last for chapters of this book for their coverage of modeling and normalization.
The order each topic presented is logical. Additional introductory prose providing context would smooth the transition between each topic in the first half of the book.
The text is easy to navigate.
No grammatical errors were noted.
Nothing was noted as offensive in the examples provided within the book.
Thank you for writing an Access book that incorporate relational database theory!
Relational Databases and Microsoft Access provides a fairly comprehensive introduction to both relational database principles and using Microsoft Access to build and use these databases. When reviewing this textbook I was delighted to see that... read more
Relational Databases and Microsoft Access provides a fairly comprehensive introduction to both relational database principles and using Microsoft Access to build and use these databases. When reviewing this textbook I was delighted to see that the author chose to focus considerable effort on explaining database design principles in an easy to understand manner. The authors choice to begin the textbook by discussing related data in terms of verbalization's has helped me in introduce my beginning students to relational principles quicker than the current textbook I use. The Microsoft Access portion of the textbook is not a comprehensive as other comparable textbooks as it lacks discussion of Reports and Macros. These issues aside, the textbook goes into ample detail on Tables, Queries and Forms, using examples and hands-on activities in an easy to follow and understand manner. While the textbook includes lab activities and exercises, additional material would need to be created to use this text in a classroom setting. Overall, I would recommend this book as a good introduction to relational database theory by using Microsoft Access as the database tool.
I found no issues with the accuracy the material presented in the textbook.
This textbook is written to ensure that it will maintain its relevance as long as Microsoft Access is still in use. The textbook does not rely upon any specific version of Access in its examples and exercises.
The clarity of the book is refreshingly clear. The complex topics of relationships, normalization, and other design concepts are written in simple language and presented in a way that most students will not have difficulty understanding
I found no issues with the textbook in terms of consistency.
The modularity of the textbook chapters and sub-section is adequate to serve as learning segments of a course.
The organization and flow of the textbook is done is a straightforward and correct manner to properly teach access principles. The one area I might have changed would be to include greater discussion of the database design principles within the Access Chapters rather than have moved it to the rear of the textbook within its own section - but this is a person preference.
I found no issues with the interface of the textbook.
I found no issues with the grammar in the textbook.
I found no issues with the cultural relevance of the textbook.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
- 1 Relational Databases and MS Access
- 2. Creating Tables
- 3. Creating Forms
- 4 Microsoft Access Queries
- 5 Relationships and the Relationships Tool
- 6 Microsoft Access Queries – Advanced
- 7 Entity Relationship Modelling
- 8 Mapping an ERD to a Relational Database
- 9 Data Definition Language (DDL)
- 10 Normalization
Appendix A: Forms Involving Multiple Tables
Appendix B: SuperTypes and Subtypes
About the Book
This text is a free introductory text that introduces MS Access and relational database design. The motivation is to support a second-year course on database systems which, to the student, is either a service course providing an introduction to database concepts, or, as a prerequisite for more advanced study in the field.
About the Contributors
Ron McFadyen is a Professor in the Computer Science department at University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, MB.