More note database pr0n
Yet the previous two posts don’t even begin to summarize the obsession I had for databases between 1999 and 2000. I forgot to mention a few of the other reference tables and forms I created. Now I’m starting to remember why it took so long for me to finish my Ph.D.
Probably the most useful is the Personalities form, although I’ll need to make some changes, displaying in a subform all the notes records that discuss each person. Through the various existing subforms I can indicate each person’s participation at any number of events, as well as the various positions they held over the years. I haven’t yet gone through Pinard, the ODNB and other reference works to enter their info.
And then there’s my list of regiments – haven’t done much with it since I first created the form, but maybe something I’ll get back to at some point. Plenty of info available, from Cannon and British regimental websites to Susane to Het Staatsche Leger.
By the time I’d created this next form, I was clearly database slap-happy. Trying to keep track of every field army? Maybe a good idea, but a bit ambitious all the same: keeping track of each regiment in each army, each commander, and their every major movement?
Didn’t get very far with this next one either. Although I might resurrect it, and add a subform that will automatically collect all the notes records discussing each event in a single place.
I totally forgot about this next one. Recreated an old paper version I had – to keep track of which sources I had already entered into my database. Kinda funky looking, but not sure how useful.
And these examples don’t include the various other tables/forms I created, such as town-region/county-country, etc.
Turns out a well-designed relational database has a lot of data behind the scenes, such as lookup tables needed to populate combo boxes and link to other tables. A lot of work, but potentially a lot of payoff as well. Unfortunately I’ve barely scraped the surface of the info I have in there – here’s to the future I guess.
Finally, for comedic effect, I give you a snapshot of the relationships between some of the tables in my sprawling database.
I’ll spare you the entity-relationship diagram.
So what’s the lesson? I have no idea. My preferred interpretation of my obsession with MS Access is that because I thought about these issues for a long time, I was able to write a focused, highly-empirical work on siegecraft that, I hope, will be the standard in the field for the next generation of scholars. And, once I got all the data entered in, it did go surprisingly quickly. But at the same time, looking back, one could just as easily conclude that I added multiple years onto my journey with these database ‘detours.’ That’s possible, but that’s why you need to make a note-system that fits you. But first make sure that you can store, summarize, search, sort and cite quickly and easily. Otherwise you’re missing out.