Deathmatch: Excel vs. Access
The post Document Centric at BitWorking concisely explains why I use Excel rather than Access to store my data: I am familiar with, and see more value in, a ‘complete’ document than in the individual atoms of data in a database. The author provides a very lucid explanation that echoes comments in Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, by Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville.
I would add that Access, and Access forms tend to be cramped and restrictive. When presented with new information or categories of content to add to the database, you’re faced with the task of messing with the tables and data architecture as well as the form design. With Excel, type another heading and dump your data, you’re done. But then we’re at two ends of a continuum. Well-defined abstracted data vs. loose clumps of closely related content. On the one hand, mining for trends across a database is easier than across the chaos of loosely structured spreadsheets. On the other hand pulling the data back together into a complete cohesive picture is integral to making decisions on what to do next.
Being able to do both would sure be nice.
Suggested in the post “How about an application like a spreadsheet that allowed you to morph along the way into a series of forms. Instead of fighting the document centric way of thinking, embrace it and use it to your applications advantage. It could still be powered by a database, but you can’t expect the end user to understand normal form just to store their data. ”
To me that sounds kind of like InfoPath? Something to think about.
Entry filed under: feed my pet brain.