Sunburst Database

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Software Components

The primary strategy for the development of Sunburst Database software has been to use components that make the programs easy to use, while performing sophisticated operations within the relational database architecture. Users are provided with simple choices through a point and click interface, while the underlying software joins multiple tables and filters data records to satisfy different needs. Users do not need to know about table relationships or how to program in SQL to do their work. All the screens use consistent mechanisms to display, search, and filter information.

Access programs are developed using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), the programming language common to all Microsoft Office applications. The built-in procedures and library calls provided by Access make it easier to integrate the applications with other Office programs such as Word and Excel. Manipulation of the information in the database tables is performed using Structured Query Language (SQL) within the VBA code and in separate queries. VBA and SQL are among the most common modern computer programming languages.

In addition to the general software components for controlling the user experience and manipulating the data records, there is an overall strategy for making the software highly configurable for each user. The programs are “data driven”, allowing users to establish the choices on pull-down menus and to set parameters that control the software. In this way, the programs are configured for each customer’s needs, without having to modify the underlying code.

Following are some of the common program elements:

  • An application log-in that controls entry to different program areas and allows read write capabilities based on user privilege.
    Simple point-and-click buttons on a Main Switchboard to guide users to various parts of the program.
  • Standard screens for viewing and editing data records with indexed lists that allow record selection when the user starts typing.
  • Calendars to aid in date entry and date checking.
  • User-configurable choices for pull-down menus, which can limit the number of choices and avoid errors due to spelling and typos.
  • Representation of one-to-many, parent-child relationships on screen forms by the use of subforms, with the ability to drill down through a hierarchy of related records.
  • User-controlled selection filters that allow a combination of database fields to limit the records displayed on screens, reports, Excel exports, and automated merges to Word templates.
  • Hierarchical reports providing data joins between relational database tables, with grouping and subtotals for parent categories.
  • Output to Excel of records in tabular form, or auto-generation of pre-formatted spreadsheets where computed database values serve as a data source for specific cells, graphs, or charts.
  • File management capabilities to manage folder and files associated with data records, enabling external documents, spreadsheets, and graphics to be opened directly from the database application.
  • Modules that manage the import of information collected on remote field computers into the main database system.
  • Linkage to other systems through ODBC or data import capabilities, allowing the programs to share data with legacy systems.