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Old February 27th, 2010, 01:56 AM posted to microsoft.public.access.tablesdbdesign
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Default I was told "Fields are expensive, records are cheap"


Your comment; Please re-read my response. It starts with the word "If". I
was describing the workload/maintenance of an overly-simplified design, and
pointing out that adding fields is expensive, in terms of the maintenance it
requires to all affected objects.

My response: Opps, you are absolutely correct. My bad.

Your comments: That would depend on what data elements the user & I agreed
were needed.

My response: Hmm, you obviously have better educated users than I do.
Normally, the users do not request a data field. I guess they sort of do.
They specify the output they want. From the output, I determine which fields
the need to input.

I’ve yet been able to figure out how to include a field on some output
(display, report, data feed, etc.) that was never entered or calculated
within the system. So for me, I don’t believe it is for me to decide if a
fields is required or not. The system output requirements determine the need
for a field. If the user decides that the want to pay for that output item
(display, report, data feed) then the fields is required. If not, then the
field is not required.

I once had a customer require that I add about 5 new data fields to the
input screen just so that they *only* showed on a single display screen /
form. I thought this was a waste, so I asked them why wanted this
enhancement? They explain that the addition of those 5 fields enabled the
customer combined with the information already on the form enabled the
customer service rep to completely answer about 75% of the calls on the first
call received (versus the 50% pre-enhancement). In addition, they did not
have to pull the policy file to obtain these 5 little pieces of information.
Nor did they have to re-file those policies folders. This little change
increased the customer service group’s performance and drastically reduced
the load on the filing staff. I have asked why this had not been done
sooner. The response was the previous developer did not consider this an
important upgrade and never did it.

I believe that I should advice the client on the cost of a field, but only
they can decide if it worth the cost. Therefore, we will have to agree to
disagree on whether or not the developer should be involved in the decision
as to which fields should be included or not.

Your comment: If you are looking for other folks ideas, to compare them
with yours and decide what "balanced" approach would work best for you, let
us know. You asked for an assessment of John V.'s statement.

My response: No, that is not quite right either. Maybe in a round about
way it is. I misunderstood his remark to mean that it was better for Access
to have two smaller records in a 1:1 relationship than it was to have one
large record. My response to this was obviously John knows something about
Access that I don’t and I need resolve this issue so I can create efficient
designs. Hence, the disk access speed versus Access extracting variables
from large records.

It was all of the other respondents who have brought up the data structure
issues. At *no time* did I bring up the data structure issue. (I only
responded to those who brought up the issue.) As I’ve repeatedly stated
through out my responses, the data structure was *never* the question. I’ve
done it on other issues, but not this one. I really don’t know how much
clearer I could have been on this issue.

Your comment: Maintenance is maintenance, whether on one object or several.
My comments were intended to offer the option of a design that would require
NO additional maintenance, since the table would grow longer, not wider.

Response: Ok, now you have my interest! I agree that maintenance is

I am being very serious when I’m saying that I would love to know how to
capture additional data and utilize that data on new pre-defined / formatted
forms without require any additional maintenance.

What is the secret to this? Please I am being serious. How can I add new
fields and create new reports without any additional maintenance?

Your comment: Response: Again, I wish you had read my introduction where I
state I have 30 years of relational database design experience. As I stated
in my response to Rick, this was something I learned NOT to do over 30 years

That you've learned not to do this was not evident in your original post.

My Response: I guess there is a two part answer to this question.

First, as I have repeatedly stated the data structure was NEVER part of the
question. Given that it was never part of the question, why should I include
anything to do with a question that was never asked? That’s like saying why
did I not include the weather conditions at the time? It is because it had
nothing to do with my original question.

Per my original post ” I've always been taught the exact opposite - that
"Fields are cheap, records are expensive" *since going to disk is so slow
versus accessing data in memory*.”

People started focusing on a non-issue as far as I was concerned and ignored
the original question. I thought I stated my question pretty clearly about
disk access speed versus accessing data in memory. Also, you have to
remember that I interpreted John’s original comment to mean something that it
did not. But I did not know that at the time, hence my question.

The question was ONLY about disk access speed versus Access’ speed of
extracting variables from a long record. NEVER in my wildest imagination did
I EVER think it would become about data structures because that was NEVER the

Secondly, as I stated in another response, if a doctor was to tell you that
he had been a doctor for 30 years, would you ask him if he could read a
thermometer? Of course not. When I stated I had 30 years, I figured that
would tell people that I had some experience under my belt and was asking a
more detailed and in depth question that a less experienced person would not
know to ask.

Your comment: If you want detailed suggestions/ideas/approaches, provide
detailed descriptions.

Response: In this question, I did *not* want suggestions, ideas, or
approaches. I wanted the answer to the question is there something about
Access that causes it to be very slow with large records?

As I stated before, the really sad part of all of this is that NO ONE in
this series of questions has answered the original question of disk access
speed versus Access extracting data from a large record.

I don’t count David’s response concerning disk access speeds. That is
because his comment on this discussion was made AFTER he responded to Allen
Browne’s answer to my re-statement of my question in this forum.

Your Comment: Responding as you have could be interpreted as 'baiting'
folks, offering an incomplete description and then criticizing folks for not
inferring or knowing your detailed situation.

My Response: I take EXTREME INSULT (caps meant) at your statement that
“Responding as you have could be interpreted as 'baiting' folks”.

I am a lone developer and I believe that this forum is a GREAT PRIVILEDGE!
I have FREE access to some of the greatest Access minds in the world. What a
GREAT PRIVILEDGE! The access to such knowledge is something to be highly
valued and respected!

There have been so many people in this forum that have helped me slowly
climb the Access learning cliff that I don’t know how to or even where to
begin to thank them. Even though I’m still somewhere near the bottom of the
Access learning cliff, I could not have gotten as high as I have without the
assistance of the knowledge people on the Access forums. I try very hard to
always thank the people who help me. As a way of show my appreciation to
them, I try to answer those question on the forum for which I am qualified to
answer. I figure that if I answer the ones I know, that provides more time
to the more knowledge people to answer the harder questions and help just a
few more people.

I have to say that I’ve learned more from the members on this forum than I
have from all of the Access books that I have read.

I go to great length to avoid wasting anyone’s time. Before I post a
question on this forum, I try reading my books, searching for the answer via
Google, or searching the different forums. ONLY after I have read, and
searched, and could not find the answer or did not understand the answers I
found do I post my question.

Yes, I take GREAT OFFENCE (caps meant) to you accusing me of wasting the
time of the people who are so kind to respond to question.

Even though all of the respondent totally misunderstood the question and
went off on irrelevant tangent, I actually respect and appreciate their
intentions and their passion.

I am very passionate about my work and I am always glad to associate with
people of equal passion. Even if I disagree with them or they don’t
understand me.

Regarding your “incomplete description” comment. I guess you are right on
that one. It was an incomplete description because it had *nothing* do with
my disk access speed versus memory access speed.

That is like criticizing me for not telling you that it was blues skies and
75 degrees Fahrenheit outside when I wrote the original question. It had
*nothing* to do with my question.

If I had had *any* idea that people would take an irrelevant comment and
blow it up into a huge mountain, I would *never* have included it in my
original question.

If I have any criticism, it is of the folks (including you) that even after
I have repeated and repeatedly stated the fields was *not* an issue, they
would not drop that issue. I understand that issue and I fully agree with
that issue. Even you last comment “Definite expensive” address an issue I
never asked about.

And as I said before, the truly sad thing is, no one in this discussion
(excluding David because read and responded to the other discussion before he
repeated his answer in this forum) has addressed my original question. Even
*after* I have repeatedly stated that my question had to do with disk access
speed. NO ONE responded to my question.

I saw one person stated that there were very experienced people willing to
help. If that is so, why is that that not one of those experience people ever
answered the question? Even after I repeated the question?

Fortunately, Allen Browne, and John Vinson, and David Fenton were kind
enough to answer this same question quite completely in another discussion on
this forum.

I really can not believe that over 32 responses were generated regarding
something that was repeatedly stated was *not* an issue and the original
question was *never* answered.