Storing Data in a Database

Information in a database is stored in a set of predefined tables, each made up of a set of predefined columns. A table can have an unlimited number of rows. Think of rows as a collection of data with a set of individual components, also known as records. Think of columns as all the individual components that make up a collection of data, also known as fields.

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To demonstrate what this means in a project database, each task displayed on a separate row in a table is a different task record. Each of the columns intersecting that task record's row represent the task's fields; for example, the task name, duration, start and finish date, and assigned resources. In the same way, each resource is a different resource record.

To view your project information as an Access database, follow these steps:

In Microsoft Project, open the project whose information you want to use in Access. Click File, Save As.

In the Save As Type box, click Microsoft Access Database (*.mdb). In the File Name box, enter a name for the project database in Access.

By default, the name of the Access file is adopted from the project filename. The filename extension changes from .mpp to .mdb. Click Save.

The Export Wizard appears.

In the first Export Wizard page, click Next.

In the Export Wizard - Data page, be sure that the A Full Project option is selected (see Figure 32-1) and then click Next.

Figure 32-1. The Export Wizard walks you through the process of exporting your project to the Access database format.

8 In the Export Wizard - Project Definition page (see Figure 32-2), click Finish.

Figure 32-2. Click Finish in the third Export Wizard page, and you're ready to open your project data in Access.

Figure 32-2. Click Finish in the third Export Wizard page, and you're ready to open your project data in Access.

9 In Access, click File, Open and browse to the location of the project database you just exported. Select the project file with the .mdb filename extension and then click Open. The project database opens, showing all the tables that were exported from the Microsoft Project database into Access (see Figure 32-3).

Figure 32-3. The Access Database window lists each table in the exported project database.

10 Double-click the MSP_TASKS table (see Figure 32-4).

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Figure 32-4. Every unique task in your project has its own row in the MSP_TASKS table.

11 Scroll through the table to see how the project information appears in the database table. Open other tables in the database to get a better idea of how the project database appears in Access.

Notice that each column has a different name, such as TASK_NAME or TASK_DUR_IS_EST. Each task occupies a different row in the table. Locate the TASK_NAME column to see the names of your project's tasks. Note that this field is not at the far left of the table, as you expect to see it in Microsoft Project (see Figure 32-5).

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Figure 32-5. The TASK_NAME field is probably closer to the right edge of the table.

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For more information about exporting Microsoft Project files to other applications, see "Importing and Exporting Information" on page 497.

Notice also the TASK_UID column, which assigns each task a unique ID number. No other task in the entire database can share this value. Obviously, a project with hundreds of assignments and resources and thousands of tasks will be a very large table in Access. Giving a unique ID number to each row in each table in the database is the simplest way to keep everything organized. The unique ID number is also used to identify relationships in the database; for example, which tasks and resources are part of an assignment. If your database has dozens of projects, the unique ID number is used to identify which tasks and assignments are part of « a specific project.

You can open any of the tables in the Microsoft Project database. You can also change infor- °

mation in your project plan and see it instantly reflected in the Microsoft Project database. To open a project database table and change project information, follow these steps:

1 With your Microsoft Project database opened in Access, open the MSP_PROJECTS table (see Figure 32-6).

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Figure 32-6. The MSP_PROJECTS table is used to store all project-related data.

2 Find the PROJ_PROP_AUTHOR column.

Your name might be there, depending on how Microsoft Project is set up.

3 Go to Microsoft Project and make sure the same file is open.

4 In Microsoft Project, click File, Properties. Enter or modify your name in the Author field and then click OK.

5 Return to Access and review the PROJ_PROP_AUTHOR field.

You'll see that the field has changed to reflect the edit you made in Microsoft Project. If you don't see the change, close and then reopen the MSP_PROJECTS table to refresh it.

It might seem that you could change your name in the field in Access, save it, and then have it appear in Microsoft Project. However, data updates don't work this way in this instance because the project saved as an Access database acts as a read-only data source, not a read/write data source; Access provides read-only access to a Microsoft Project file saved as a database.

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Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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