You may be surprised to find out you are already using a database. That's because databases are prevalent in our everyday life, anyone with a computer or has interfaced with a computer has probably interfaced with a database. For instance, your system software, the method by which you organize things into folders, your files into this folder or that folder is essentially a database. You can search your system software to find a file, you can produce a list of them, these are all things that databases do. If you use accounting software like QuickBooks or Great Plains or any of those products out there, they essentially take all of your entries, whether it's a check that you wrote or received or a credit card statement, whatever you put in there, those are all organized. Those dollar values are all organized on records which is the essentially the piece of a database that you can manipulate and we'll find out more about records. If you do web searches, like a search through Google, essentially what Google has done is it spends out these Spiders and it goes and gets all the information from the web and puts it into a database so you can then search it and then link up to it. Your e-mail client is also a database, I use it often as a to do list but you can organize and keep your e-mails in folders. You have an inbox, an outbox. You have folders where you permanently store things, that is a database. Even your ATM or Automated Teller Machine, that is also a database, it's keeping track of all the accounts of all the people who have that bank. So these are just a few examples but realize that databases are prevalent in your everyday life. You have used them quite a bit. What you can do with FileMaker is create your own database and what databases do is allow you to search and sort. This is probably the primary feature of a database that makes it a database. You can search the data and then alphabetize it or put things in chronological order or numerical order. So we'll find out a little bit more about that later. Let's draw some more analogies here. A good analogy is a filing cabinet in fact, FileMaker in it's older days used to have a logo, it's icon was a filing cabinet and this is exactly what a database is. You have all these folders and you can put your documents into them and organize them, that's what a database does, it organizes all your information. It's very simple what a database is so don't worry about trying to think that it's anything more complicated. It just allows you to organize and pull out pieces that you want to see and that's the important part about a search. You're going to be able to say okay I want to show all of these marbles, I have a bag of marbles and I want to show just the blue ones. So you reach down into your bag and pull out the blue ones with your hand and you're looking at them and you can manipulate them by just looking at those blue marbles. And then you can put them back into the bag and then you can pull out all the big marbles or all of the marbles with a design or, or whatever. You choose how you search that bag of marbles and what you pull out to manipulate and look at, print or whatever you want to do. Keep that in mind, that's the idea behind a database, you can have a whole bunch of things but only look at a few of them at a time and then put them back. You never get rid of all the things, you, you just simply pull them out and isolate them for a little while. Another analogy is a Rolodex, if you've ever used on of those old fashioned Rolodexes, where there are cards on a ring where you just flip through them to find who you want to call. That is essentially a database, it's not a very sophisticated database but it is. So you can do things like okay, I'm going to pull all the cards out that begin with O, you just go to that section, grab them and pull them out and you have them in your hand, that's a search. You can arrange them alphabetically, which that's usually how they are arranged, but you can arrange them, you know, in any way you wanted to in that Rolodex and that's what a sort is. You can even remove one and throw it in the trash if it's no longer valid. You can delete a record out of a database like FileMaker so you can, you know also do the same thing in a Rolodex. You can simply take that out, that would be one record and throw it in the trash. In fact you can go ahead and look through your Rolodex and decide who you want to copy onto a contact sheet to invite to a party. That's something that a database can do much more easily than a Rolodex because all you have to do is say, find me everybody who I want to invite. You know whatever criteria, maybe it's family members, wherever you type that criteria, it finds and then prints it and then you've got that sheet. It's a lot easier to do than you know, working with pen or and paper or pencil, whatever you're doing there with the Rolodex. So a Rolodex is a very simple database and if you keep thinking about how Rolodex works, then you will understand what a database is. If you're very new to databases, just think of that Rolodex, just keep that in mind and it's a very good analogy.
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