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Excel Database tips

Data Management Tips by Burleson Consulting

Back in the early 1980's I first learned spreadsheets on VisiCalc and I worked on some of the first relational databases on the IBM mainframe.

As a database professional, I'm often asked about whether it makes sense to use Excel spreadsheets as a database.  The answer is that it depends on the nature of your data and application.  Using an Excel spreadsheet makes sense when the data is static and rarely changing.  I've created extremely complex financial spreadsheets using database information that was downloaded into Excel using spreadsheet database interface tools like Excel-DB.

Windows Vista and Excel 2007 are supported environments for Excel-DB. 

In the world of data analytics where historical (read immutable) data is consolidated, it makes sense to use Excel as a database.  Let's take a closer look at using Excel as a database.

Excel Database Connectivity

The reality of many end-users is that they do not have the time nor the desire to investigate OLAP interfaces into relational databases, and these business intelligence offerings are both expensive and cumbersome.  If you data is static and making a one-way trip into your spreadsheet, using Excel as a database makes sense.  The trick is to find a tool that will easily allow for data access.

I rarely endorse vendor products, but I've been very impressed with Excel-DB as an Excel database interface.  Once installed, Excel-DB customized the Excel menus and allow you to extract database information at lightening speed.

I've been using Excel-DB for almost ten years now, and it's great to be able to enter a SQL query into a spreadsheet cell and just click a few buttons to execute the SQL and pop the database information right into Excel.  Excel-DB has real-time demos to show just how easy it is to make your Excel into a database.

Updating your database from Excel

One onerous problem with using Excel as a database is having the ability to take your changed data and upload it back into the database.  Excel-DB allows you to update the database, and it also allows you to take confidential spreadsheet data and upload it to the database for secure data sharing.  You can see an online example of updating a database from Excel here. (Turn-on your PC speaker):  Update the database from the spreadsheet

Excel database demonstrations

These real-time demos show how to turn your Excel database into a full business intelligence tool and it also shows you how to consolidate data into Excel from a variety of databases, including Oracle, MySQL and SQL Server.

Note:  Turn-on your PC speakers, as these are talking video demonstrations of Excel database access:

In sum, it makes sense to use Excel as a database platform and you can use Excel-DB to quickly database-enable any Excel spreadsheet.  Excel-DB is also inexpensive (only $395 per seat) and they offer a 10-day free download.
If you like Oracle tuning, see the book "Oracle Tuning: The Definitive Reference", with 950 pages of tuning tips and scripts. 

You can buy it direct from the publisher for 30%-off and get instant access to the code depot of Oracle tuning scripts.



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