FileMaker Pro Session 1 - Why use a Database?
This section discusses the reasons to use a database. After reading it, you should have a good idea of how a database can help you. The problem with using Rolodex files is that they do not allow you to do things quickly or efficiently. Imagine these scenarios.
- Your business booms, and now you have thousands of customers, vendors, and industry contacts. Your Rolodex file has grown very large or you have had to use more than one Rolodex file. It is too difficult to manage all the information.
- You file your contacts by company name. Now you want to find someone, and you know his last name but not his company. It is time-consuming to flip through the cards of a Rolodex file one at a time.
- You want to send some of your contacts a new product announcement. You have to recopy each name and address onto envelopes or labels.
Rolodex files are helpful, but they are not flexible or powerful enough for these scenarios. By contrast, databases can easily handle these scenarios as well as far more difficult ones. As a starting point, here are four reasons why you would want to use a database.
First, a database enables you to store larger amounts of information than a Rolodex file. Rolodex files might work for 50 or 100 people, but not much more. (I am not sure they can handle this many.) A computer database can handle thousands of records. Also, you can store much more information about each person. A Rolodex card is limiting.
A relational database can store information that is more complex. People have multiple phone numbers, fax numbers, home office numbers. People have multiple emails: a work email, a home email, a google mail. Personal information has gotten more complex like everything else.
Second, a database allows you to retrieve your information more efficiently, more flexibly, and more creatively. Imagine flipping through a thousand Rolodex cards every time you wanted to find someones phone number. You could call directory assistance faster.
You can also retrieve information in ways that you did not foresee when you entered it. You may have thought, for example, that you would only look for people by their last name. You may need to look them up, however, by telephone area code or grouped by some common category. Ahh Category, remember that word for later.
Third, a database can manipulate the information it contains. For example, if you had fields that contained prices and fields that contained quantities of inventory parts, a database can multiply the two fields together to calculate costs.
Printing Information and Presentation
Fourth, a database enables you to print your information on envelopes, labels, fax cover sheets, reports, and letters. Think of how difficult it would be to do a mailing to one thousand people by copying their addresses from a thousand Rolodex cards. This is done with a Layout, remember that word for later too.
Databases are used for:
- Summarizing reports by any field
- Creating mailing labels
- Viewing lists by sorted orders
- Printing data on preprinted forms
- Tracking vital information
- Merging data from other programs
- Exporting data to other programs
- Creating custom designed forms
- and so much more…
Ways to Use - Business & Personal
- Purchase Orders
- Name Badges
- Membership Rosters
- Computer Disk Labels
- Home Inventory
If you are debating whether you need a database, all you have to ask yourself is, "Do I want to be more efficient?" Databases enable you to store, retrieve, manipulate, and print information faster and better than paper-based systems.
1. Choose some reasons to use a database
- You want to help company executives buy fancy cars
- You want to save time
- You want to do things better
- You want to impress your friends
- You want your own propellor beanie
2. Choose the ways you could use a database
- As a tax deduction
- As a way to spend your quarterly budget for "toys"
- As a way to work better, faster, and easier
- As a way to, dare I say it, rule the world