Access or Excell - Is there an alternative

  machins 17:13 29 Apr 04

I use a database of many hundreds of addresses, phone numbers etc. Also Excell for accounts etc.
These are all stored on Access database but I find it complicated and not all that reliable to use, especially when writing form letters etc
Is there an alternative to Microsoft (I am NOT a Microsot fan!!)


  Taran 17:29 29 Apr 04

Lotus Approach is a reasonable database but it isn't really programmable. Rather, it relies on a series of macros to perform anything that isn't in a drop down list of options. Lotus 1, 2, 3 is also an excellent spreadsheet application and for many years it was ahead fo MS Excel. How things change...

It really depends on several factors:

1. How easy do you want your database to be ?

2. Do you want a programmable application ?

3. Would you prefer a point and click approach to your data management ?

4. Are you prepared for a learning curve ?

5. How much do you want to spend ?

Alpha Five click here is about the most capable overall database application I can think of. It has more sample databases, built in query tools and so on than anthying else in the world. It is also very, very programmable with either ActionScript or xBasic (a little like Visual Basic).

FileMaker Pro click here is also an excellent alternative, but in my opinion it is nowhere near as powerful or flexible as Access or Alpha Five, but it is streets ahead of Lotus Approach.

Frankly, Access and Excel are superb programs for managing and analysing information and I rather think you would be better off isolating the problems you have running them and, once you sort those problems out, you can concentrate on using them as they should be used.

Since you already have them it seems pointless thinking of spending anything on other software unless you really want to get into something new.

You could possibly try OpenOffice click here which is free, if very limited by comparison to Access and Excel.

What are the problems you have ?

Perhaps if we tried to iron them out you may find a new lease of life returns to your current software. To be honest you'd have to go a long way and have some very extensive needs to go beyond the capabilities of Access and Excel.

  Taran 17:33 29 Apr 04

Without being cheeky, have you considered learning material for Access and Excel ?

I'd agree with anyone who said Access was unintuitive to use but normally if you're banging your head off a brick wall there are some alternative routes to get where you want to be with your software.

Microsoft software typically has two dozen ways of doing anthing right and about a million or so ways of totally messing things up.

Perhaps taking a step back, regrouping and attacking things from another perspective might work.

Theer are loads of resources online for the MS Office suite, but if you'd like some links to look at, post to that effect.


  machins 17:35 29 Apr 04

One problem is I use the database to print address labels. I have set the page up to print 21 labels in one page, but the following month I have to reset everything. In other words it will not remember the settings I have specified.
That is my main complaint.

  Taran 17:49 29 Apr 04

try this:

1. Open your database in Access

2. Click on Tools, scroll down to Database Utilities and click on Compact and repair database from the pop out menu

3. Save the database, close it, then re-open it.

4. Check to see if any changes you make will save or not.

Alternatively, have you tried this:

1 Create brand new database

2. Export the table(s) from the old database to Comma Delimited Files (CSVs)

3. Using File, Get external data, Import, run an import of the CSVs and save it/them as new tables.

4. Re-create your tables and forms.

5. Make any adjustments and save the changes to your new database to see whether they will actually save.

Databases that fail to save changes can do so for a whole lot of reasons. Compact and repair can fix minor things and get rid of a lot of junk code stored in the database, but creating a brand new database and running an export/import into it ensures that you get clean data.

You could just import the tables, forms, queries and so on from one to another database and hope for the best, but using comma delimited files prevents the tables from your old database from messing up a new one if there is an issue with the table(s) and their underlying code.

Exporting and importing via CSVs means you get the contents of your tables without any other junk tagging along, and recreating your forms and queries likewise prevents problems migrating from the old database to the new one.

If you do this and the new database fails to save your changes we can look at other probable causes and it will narrow things down a lot.

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