A relational database connects two or more data tables together by a common attribute to give you a complete picture of your business.
What is a relational database?
The easiest way to understand a relational databse is to compare it with a flat file database. A flat file database has just one table. An example is your Contacts database, which contains one table with fields for name, address, phone number, email address, and so on.
Suppose you want to track events that your contacts have attended. With a flat file database, you would need to enter event details (dates, leader, fee) in every single record. And whenever you changed a detail, you'd have to change them in every record.
A relational database is more powerful and easier to keep up. It lets you:
- Link two or more tables that store related information
- Make your data more accurate and consistent
- Save time when you update information that applies to multiple records
How to create a relational database:
Here's how you could create a relational database for Contacts and Events:
- Create a database with two tables: Contacts and Events.
- In the Contacts table, create fields for contact information plus Event Name.
- In the Events table, create fields for Event Name, date, description, leader, and so on.
- The Event Name field is the common field in both tables. Just link the Event Name fields in the two tables to create a relational database.
When you add a new contact in your relational database, just enter the Event Name. The other event details, like date and description, are automatically filled in from the Events table. And if you set up a two-way relational database, a simple feat with an easy database, you can also call up an Events record to see contact information for the people who have signed up.
Examples of when to create a relational database
You can create a relational database to link:
- Music files and details about the artist
- Sales, inventory, and suppliers
- Customers and products they've ordered
- Students and upcoming tasks and details