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MS Access

Posted Aug 2, 2004

MS Access for the Business Environment: MS Access as a Documentation Tool: Database Diagramming - Page 5

By William Pearson

It is here that we create, modify and remove joins. The relationship is given a default name, which we can change; we need only define the tables involved, together with the "direction" of the join, using the Primary key and Foreign key fields in the middle section of the tab.

Several other settings are maintained here, as well, allowing us to dictate the join behaviors that are appropriate to our business needs in the database. The "Enforce relationship" checkboxes, both checked in our example, as shown above, enforce referential integrity for the relationships under consideration.

18.  Close the Properties dialog when desired.

Now that we have a basic database diagram for our MSSQL Server database, let's explore ways to deliver / store the information it contains.

Consider Distribution Options for the Diagram

In addition to the capability to print the diagram we have created (both via icon or menu item, as in most Windows applications), we can save it using the Save As ... menu item or icon to save our work with a new name. Let's save our diagram with the following steps.

1.  Select File --> Save As ... from the main menu.

The Save As ... dialog appears.

2.  Type the following into the ... To box:


The completed Save As ... dialog appears as shown in Illustration 18.

Illustration 18: The Completed Save As ... Dialog

3.  Click OK to save the diagram as specified.

Conveniently enough, the diagram can be embedded in various MS Office applications' files, as well, including Visio, Word, Excel, Outlook, FrontPage, and others. We will demonstrate this with the following steps:

4.  "Lasso" the diagram using the mouse, as shown (reduced) in Illustration 19.

Illustration 19: Select the Database ...

NOTE: Selecting Edit --> Select All from the main menu will accomplish the selection of the complete diagram, as well.

5.  Select Edit --> Copy to Clipboard from the main menu.

6.  Open a new document in MS Word.

7.  Click the document at any point.

8.  Select Edit --> Paste from the main menu.

The database diagram appears in the MS Word document, ready for saving, e-mailing, further documenting the database, etc.

The capability to embed our new database diagram into other office documents widens our distribution and publication capabilities immensely. Documentation becomes a breeze with the availability of these features in an integrated MS Office documentation effort.

9.  Close the MS Word document, saving it as desired, and return to the database diagram in MS Access.

10.  Select File --> Close from the main menu, saving the diagram if prompted.

We return to the Database Diagrams list, where we see our new diagram listed, where we can readily access it at a future date, as depicted in Illustration 20.

Illustration 20: Our New Diagram Appears in the Database Diagrams List

11.  Close the MS Access Project (.adp file) when desired.

Conclusion ...

In this article, we discussed potential uses for database diagrams in general, and then established a hypothetical business need for such a diagram. We established connectivity with our targeted MSSQL Server database, once we had created an MS Access Project (.adp file) within which to perform our practice exercise. We then began our creation of a database diagram.

Within our practice example, we noted the "automatic" nature of much of the process, particularly in the case of a simple database like our target, the pubs sample. We discussed join / relationship creation and maintenance, even though the joins were created as part of the basic diagram generation within our practice exercise. We then discussed navigation and various aspects of managing our diagram, finally concluding with comments and practice surrounding the distribution of our database diagrams within the MS Office application family.

» See All Articles by Columnist William E. Pearson, III

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