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Is Microsoft Access a relational database?

Posted on 2008-06-15
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I have heard in the past that Microsoft Access is not a relational database. Is this true?
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Question by:dovidf
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I purchased "Step by Step", a book to walk you through the changes of Access 2007. The first sentance in the introduction starts out with "Microsoft Office Access 2007 is a powerful relational database application...." Yes, it's a relational database.

Flyster
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by:DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Access MVP)
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Absolutely, positively, definitely, unequivocally for sure ... YES!

*WHERE* ... did you hear that it's not?
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by:dovidf
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In the industry, Access is not put together with Sql server, oracle or db2.

I guest that's because it does the querying work on the client side, doesn't have stored procedures or triggers, and it uses a non standard SQL.

However, it's a great and friendly system.

Thanks for the clarification.
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by:DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Access MVP)
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"Access is not put together with Sql server, oracle or db2."

On the contrary.  There are many place wherein Access is used as a front end to the enterprise databases you mention above.

mx
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by:dovidf
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I know that you can front end it but to get it run right you have to convert it to passthrough SQl.

Unfortunately, people who look for a database development job and only have Access on their resume are not considered to have relational database experience by many.

I've used access to link all sorts of incompatible databases such as Sybase and Oracle.

It deserves better.
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by:DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Access MVP)
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"and only have Access on their resume are not considered to have relational database experience by many."

LOL.  Sorry, but that is just not the case.  The 'many' are only those that have no clue what can actually be done with Access.  And after  16 straight years of working with Access ... that ain't much :-)

mx
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by:dovidf
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"LOL.  Sorry, but that is just not the case.  The 'many' are only those that have no clue what can actually be done with Access.  And after  16 straight years of working with Access ... that ain't much :-)"

That's true. However, all too often the people doing the hiring are not the most knowledgeable.
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by:dportas
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"Access" is the name of an application development tool, not a database. The Access product does include the Jet/ACE database engine. Jet, ACE and their related components are NOT relational because they are based on the SQL model of data, not the relational model.

It's true that SQL borrows certain ideas and terminology from the relational model but SQL is fundamentally non-relational, most obviously because it is bag-oriented rather than set-oriented and therefore SQL's tables are not relations. This is far from the only difference between the two models though. If you aren't familiar with the RM then I would suggest a good book on database foundations such as those by Date, Codd or Fabian Pascal.

So what dovidf heard is quite correct. Of course there must be many users of Access who don't mind one way or the other but if you have to ask the question then the answer must be no. Access is not a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS).

Note: Correctly speaking, "database" means an organised collection of data, whereas "DBMS" is the management system - the software used to manage that data. No piece of software is a "database".
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by:DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Access MVP)
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""Access" is the name of an application development tool, not a database. "

LOL.   That's just wrong!

"So what dovidf heard is quite correct. "
No it is not!

 Access is, in every respect ... a relational database product, or to use your words ... an application development tool to develop 'relational' database applications.

mx
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by:dportas
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DatabaseMX: Are you aware what a relation actually is? Perhaps you aren't. The data structures used by Access and other SQL DBMSs are not relations and the operators they use are not relational ones. These are quite precise definitions in the database canon, which leave no room for doubt about what is relational and what isn't.

If you were truly familiar with the relational model then I don't think you would make such assertions. On the other hand if you are only familiar with database vendor marketing and books about Access then you could be forgiven for not knowing the difference between a SQL DBMS and a relational one. If you are interested in furthering your knowledge then check out Chris Date's "Introduction to Database Systems" for example.
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by:DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Access MVP)
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LOL !!!!

I'm not really going to debate this any further.

mx
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by:DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Access MVP)
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"On the other hand if you are only familiar with database vendor marketing and books about Access"

LOL ... not that it would be matter to you, but I'm just a little beyond the 'book' phase of Access ... after 16 years of 24x7x365 !!

mx
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by:dportas
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You've made my point for me. If your entire knowledge is based on Access then you won't know the relational model so you aren't qualified to comment on it. You are a prisoner of Plato's cave.

You apparently aren't interested in a serious discussion. Others who want to learn can look up the references I cited and draw their own conclusions. Then they can judge whether those references or your humorous remarks have been more useful to them.
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by:DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Access MVP)
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Actually, I would say **YOUR** qualifications are in question here.  And the more you talk, the deeper you are digging yourself into a hole.  You either an IT guy or a VB guy who is totally clueless as to what Access is and what can actually be done with Access ... in terms of building RELATIONAL Databases, or any other aspect of Access!  

mx
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by:dportas
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But I am not asking you to trust MY qualifications. I am asking you to read the standard texts on the topic by the people who discovered and studied the relational model.

I have barely ever used Access so I admit I am largely ignorant about it. However, I do know it is based on SQL. The fact that it is based on the SQL model means that it cannot be relational.

You never answered my question. Do you even know what a relation is?
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by:DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Access MVP)
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"I have barely ever used Access so I admit I am largely ignorant about it."

We're done now, lol !!

out
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by:dportas
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Yep. And you still didn't answer my question or even say anything interesting.
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by:DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Access MVP)
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Nope ... but you SURE did:
""I have barely ever used Access so I admit I am largely ignorant about it.""

later
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