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Sergio Ruiz

Database Key Terms: Entity, Field, Record, Table

    In businesses, databases are tools that are mainly used to do one thing; keep track of different things.  In order for businesses to keep track of all of their different customers or vendors, they keep vast databases with a plethora of information.  All of this information has to be kept in line and the users have to be able to access it using different means and from different locations.  That is where being able to use a database program like Microsoft Access becomes a valuable asset.  In order to be able to use a program like this, one needs to familiarize oneself with all of the different terminologies that are used in order to describe the different parts that make up the database.  Some of the main terms used to describe databases are Entity, Field, Record, and Table.

Database Entity

    A Database Entity is basically the item that you are trying to keep track of.  Most often you will see companies keep long databases, it is in order for them to keep track of their customers.  This however is that the only for that an entity can take.  Vendors can also be entities in a database.  Each individual order that a customer may generate can be considered an entity.  As defined in Dictionary.com, an entity is basically something that can stand alone which also has some inherent characteristics.  All of these inherent characteristics are the attributes that make the entity unique and separate it from all the others.  It is all of these individual entities that one is trying to keep track of and organize in the overall database. 

Database Field

    A Database field is basically an individual characteristic of the entity.  When it comes to having large amounts of information on a database, the users need to be able to have enough information about each entity in order to achieve whatever it is that they need to do.  For example, in a customer database, the fields might consist of things like a first and last name, address, city, state, zip code, phone number, gender, age, many different characteristics that help to give more information about the entity itself (which in this case would be the customer).  A very simple way of figuring out what the fields would be is to look at the column headings on the sheet with the information and those should identify the fields. Each of these fields can hold different types on information.  They can hold invoice dates, invoice amounts, they can hold payment information about vendors, among many other things.  The important things is that fields hold the in depth information.  The more fields and the more information you have, the easier things can be.   

YouTube Video

This video provides a good explanation (with good examples) of both entites and fields (or attributes as refered to in the video). 
It also talks about the relationships required to form a complete database.
  
 
Database Record

    A Database Record is basically one set of fields.  In large company databases, there are many different entities with lots of information about each one.  When it gets to be large enough, it can be very difficult for someone to find a simple address or phone number by just searching for it.  The easiest way to find some information in a field is to simply search (run a query) for the entire record.  Once the record is found, it is much easier to simply scroll through the fields and look for the required information.  Once again, this is not only limited to customer databases.  In an invoice database, it is very simple to simply search for an invoice and you can have all of the information associated with the invoice in order for a person to be able to follow up an transactions and keep track of payments.  If records are entered well, database programs such as Microsoft Access have the capability to search for them using many different ways and access the information within each record.  The records are the key to keeping all of the information for each person, invoice, or item.
   

Database Table

    A Database Record is basically a set of related records. Databases are built with their tables.  When a database is built, it is built by entering the information into the fields and coming up with the records.  Once all of the records that need to be entered have been entered, then that is a completed table.  In order for a database to be able to work, there must be more than one table present.  Once all of the tables are formed, relationships are created in between them in order for them to be able to access information across the different tables.  it is the tables and their relationships that forms the basis for all databases.  One these key elements are formed, then the rest of the database becomes much easier to manage. 
This video is another good example of how to start a basic database table.
 
All of these items, the entities, fields, records, and tables simply keep building on one another. Eventually, once the maker of a database has amassed enough records and created the necessary relationships, the basic databse is complete.  Once a person has reached this point users can find any number of things that they may have questions about.   
 
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