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Compare and update Access database back-ends with SSW Data Renovator

Welcome to the 'SSW Data Renovator' User Guide. This help facility is designed to let you quickly and easily start using 'SSW Data Renovator'.

With 'SSW Data Renovator' you can:

  1. Clear all data out of the database - ready to give to your new client.
  2. Compare the back end structure of two databases and print reports.
    • find the tables to add or delete in the old database.
    • create, delete or modify relationships.
    • create or delete indexes.
      (then make the changes manually in Access)
  3. If you don't like doing things manually then use the 'Automatic Data Upgrade' option. This uses the clear and copy method ie. it clears all data out of the master and then copies all data from the old structure.
  4. For remote deployment have SSW Data Renovator create a table with all structural changes in the 'SSW Data PRO!' (97 & 2000) format and then use 'SSW Data PRO! (97 & 2000)' for automatic upgrading of clients old databases.
SSW Data Renovator User Guide
1. Prerequisites
2. How it works
3. Getting started
4. First time use
5. Tutorial
6. New Project
7. Main Menu
8. Sample Data
9. Clear data
10. Compare Structure
11. Database Structure
12. Change Relationship
13. Change Index
14. Count Records
15. Data PRO! Format
16. Automatic Upgrade
  1. Prerequisites

    1. To install, view the Installation User Guide
    2. To register, view the Registration User Guide

  2. How it works

  3. SSW Data Renovator works on two databases that have similar structure.

    Data Renovator can automatically clear data from the new version. This is useful when you are about to give a client a new version of your application and you want the data mdb file to be blank. To clear data, it analyzes database relationships and deletes the records in the appropriate order.

    Between two databases 'SSW Data Renovator' compares structure (asks a few questions about the deleted tables and fields - as these may be renames) and generates reports. These reports indicate what operations (i.e. add, delete or rename) need to be performed on the old database structure, so they can use the new front end.

    For remote deployment upgrades, the above information can also be converted to a table that can be used with 'SSW Data PRO!'. ie. when the data upgrade is to be done at the client's site.

    The most popular option is the 'Automatic Data Upgrade'. It can clear one database (the master copy) and copy the data from the second database (the client's data) into the master database.

  4. Getting Started

  5. After installing 'SSW Data Renovator', it will create an icon on your start menu. Click on "Start", select "Programs" and look for the 'SSW Data Renovator' group. Click on the 'SSW Data Renovator' icon and the application will start.

    Starting SSW DataRenovator
    Figure: SSW Data Renovator options appear in your start menu once installed

  6. First time use

  7. When 'SSW Data Renovator' is installed NorthwindDATA(97/2000)_Ver1.mdb (Old DataVersion) and NorthwindDATA(97/2000)_Ver2.mdb are added to the 'SSW Data Renovator' sample folder on the C: drive.... C:\DataPRORenovator(97/2000)\Sample (drive letter will be different depending upon where 'SSW Data Renovator' is installed).

    This user guide uses the above sample files

    The 'Select the Project' screen appears when the application starts. This screen has an existing project called 'Northwind'. You can use this project for practicing.


    1. Choose 'Northwind' In Projects window.
    2. Then make sure the Master and Old database path is valid. If not choose the databases using the browse button. Read above for which databases to select.
    3. When you have completed these steps, click on "Next".

    Using SSW DataRenovator for the first time
    Figure: Set up the Northwind database for testing

  8. Tutorial

  9. Now we will guide you through the use of 'SSW Data Renovator', using a step by step tutorial.


    Microsoft purchased your database last year. Since then you have made a new version of your application (front end), in addition you have also made structural changes to your back end. Now they want the latest version of the database. To do this you will need to update their back end first.

    In the following examples we will explore how you can do this job painlessly by using 'SSW Data Renovator'.


    The following the steps in the tutorial example will modify the sample database NorthwindDATA2000_Ver2.mdb (and possibly NorthwindDATA2000_Ver1.mdb).

    Please make a backup of:

    • NorthwindDATA2000_Ver1.mdb to NorthwindDATA2000BACKUP_Ver1.mdb and
    • NorthwindDATA2000_Ver2.mdb to NorthwindDATA2000BACKUP_Ver2.mdb.

    Now you are ready to continue the tutorial on the original *.mdbs.

    It is assumed that you have installed 'SSW Data Renovator' and will toggle between the tutorial and utility when following instructions.

    It is strongly recommended that you follow all step by step instructions to reduce learning time.

  10. New Project

  11. You can create a new project by clicking the 'Add' button on the 'Select the Project' screen.

    The 'New Project' screen will appear after you click  'Add'.

    New project
    Figure: Create a new project

  12. Main Menu

  13. After you have created or selected a project 'Main Menu' screen shows. This screen displays the main options available with 'SSW Data Renovaor'.

    On this screen when you select an option it displays more information on the method at the bottom.

    Main Menu
    Figure: Select one of the available options to see its description

  14. Sample Data

  15. Append Sample Data

    'The 'Append Sample Data' option is located on the 'Data to Delete' screen. After deleting all data from a Database SSW Data Renovator can append data from Sample tables found in the database.

    For example the Categories Table in the Northwind sample database contains a list of product categories. If this table is empty and referential integrity is enabled then products will not be able to be added without having a matching product category.

    SSW Data Renovator allows Sample tables to be stored in a database and appended after all the data is removed from the database. This means that lookup tables can be populated with basic information before distribution to new sites.

    Defining Sample Tables

    To define a sample table, create an exact copy of the table with the same table name plus 'Sample' on the end of the name. i.e. the sample table for the Categories table would be CategoriesSample.

    SSW Data Renovator detects sample tables and shows which tables have sample tables defined. You can then set which tables should have sample data appended.

    Deleting the data

    Figure: Set which tables should have sample data appended.


    Appending Sample Data

    In the figure 'Data To Delete' you can see check boxes for 'Sample Data Available' and 'Sample Data Append'. The 'Available' checkbox lets you know if there is any sample data available for that Table. Checking the 'Append' checkbox will append sample data after all data has been deleted from the database.

    To continue the Tutorial, check the 'Append Sample Data' box for the Categories Table.

    Next, press the 'Start >' button to begin deleting data.

  16. Clear Data



    Clear all Data out of Database

    You have a new customer and you need to make a blank copy of the back end.

    After you are sure that you want to clear the master database, click the 'Next >' button to proceed. 'SSW Data Renovator' analyzes the database relationships and works out the order to delete.

    Clear data
    Figure: With the 'Clear all Data out of Database' option you can delete all the existing data out of your master database


    Data to delete
    Figure: The order that tables will be deleted from is show on the 'Data to Delete' screen. Tables at the top of the list will have their data deleted first.

  18. Compare Structure

  19. 'Compare Database Structure' compares the structure of the master and old databases. This is useful when you want to compare the client's old data structure with the current structure of the new master database.

    During the process you will be asked for any renames that were done and you can print the report of changes. You can then make this changes manually.

    The following options on the left are available -->

    Details for all the options available are explained later.

    Initially, only the first and the fourth options are available. To compare relationships and indexes 'SSW Data Renovator' needs to compare the database structure first.

    Compare structure
    Figure: Available options for comparing structure

  20. Database Structure

  21. Compare Database Structure

    'Compare Database Structure' compares the structure of the master and old databases.

    First of all it compares the tables and generates the 'Table Changes' form. This form displays the information of tables added or deleted.

    'SSW Data Renovator' cannot determine if any tables have been renamed. This is where you can help.



    Checking for renamed Tables

    In the figure below the developer has made a rename of the 'EmployeesNames' table to a shorter and more practical 'Employees'.

    1. To let 'SSW Data Renovator' know about this, select 'Rename To' from the 'Operation' combo and 'Employees' in the 'New Table Name' combo.
    2. Upon saving (go to a new record) please note that the corresponding record above has the 'Operation' and 'New Table Name' automatically filled in.
    3. Click 'Next' and 'SSW Data Renovator' will start checking the fields.

    Changes made to Table


    Checking for renamed Fields

    In the figure below the developer has made a rename of the 'PostalCodeOfAust' field to a shorter and more practical 'PostalCode'.

    1. To let 'SSW Data Renovator' know about this select 'Rename To' from the 'Operation' combo and 'PostalCode' in the 'New Field Name' combo.
    2. Upon saving please note that the corresponding record above has the 'Operation' and 'New Field Name' automatically filled in.
    3. Click 'Next'
    4. You will get a message box with the fillowing message "Do you wish to analyze the properties of the fields in both databases? Esitmated time: 1 minute". Click 'Yes' to compare the properties of the fields in both databases.

    Changes made to fields
    Figure: Field Changes

    The following four reports are generated after the above process:

    Report showing Table changes
    Figure: Table Changes Report - This report shows what changes need to be made to tables in the old database

    Report showing field changes  
    Figure: Field Changes Report - This report shows what changes need to be made to the fields in tables in the old database


    Report showing required field validation
    Figure: Required Field Validation Report - This report shows the fields that have 'Required' property set to 'Yes' in the New database but are empty (NULL) in the old database


    Report showing property changes  
    Figure: Property Changes Report - This report shows what changes need to be made to the properties of table fields in the old database

  22. Change Relationships

  23. Compare Database Relationships

    You have already compared the structure. Now you can compare the relationships. This process just takes on click.



    Comparing Relationships

    Click the 'Go' button for 'Compare Database Relationships' on 'Compare Structure' form.

    This process compares the relationships and generates the following reports:


    Relationship changes
    Figure: Relationship Changes Report - This report shows the relationships that need to be added, deleted and changed in the old database

    Many database programmers use standard naming conventions ie. using ID in the field name to indicate a relationship with another table. ie. ClientID has many Invoices.

    Report showing relationships
    Figure: ID Fields - Relationship report - This report shows all Fields with ID characters without a relationship in the new database

  24. Change Indexes

  25. Compare Database Indexes

    Like relationships, after comparing the structure you can compare the Indexes.

    This process creates three reports after comparing the indexes of master and old database.



    Comparing Indexes

    Click the 'Go' button for 'Compare Database Indexes' on 'Compare Structure' form.

    The reports are:

    Changes to the Indices  
    Figure: Index Changes - This report shows the all indexes that need to be added, deleted and changed in the old database

    This report checks all exact indexes that needs to be added or deleted. If you have only renamed a relationship (using utility like SSW Data PRO!) you do not need to delete and add index because they are still the same. For example compare the two reports 'Index Changes' and 'Exact Index Changes', you will find that with Products and Orders tables you do not need to delete and add the indexes.

    Exact Index changes
    Figure: Report - Exact Index Changes

    Many database programmers use standard Indexing conventions ie. using ID in the field name to indicate an Index ie. ClientID has an Index.

    This report shows all Fields with ID characters without an Index in the new database.

    Report showing index changes
    Figure: Report - ID Fields Index

  26. Count Records

  27. Count records in tables in old and new databases

    This option lets you count the records in your old and new databases simultaneously. After counting the records it generates a report so you can be assured that the records are as you expect:



    Counting number of records in tables

    Click the 'Go' button for 'Count records in tables in old and new databases' on 'Compare Structure' form.


    SSW Check PRO-Reports  
    Figure: Report - Count Records in New Database - This report gives the record count in tables of new and old database. If any problems (i.e. table does not exist) it will display 'Problems'


    Implementing Changes

    After completing this part you can use the printed reports to make manual changes to the old database on the basis of the reports.

  28. Data PRO! Format

  29. Convert Differences into 'SSW Data PRO!' Format

    Before we talk about this new feature..... lets face it, the job that 'SSW Data Renovator' does itself is amazing. The time saved is a a big relief to programmers even if they are just using the reports (that tell them the differences) and implementing the changes manually.

    A commonly requested feature of earlier versions went along the lines of...

    "I email the new application version to the client and use the reports from 'The Renovator' to talk the client through all the changes to the data mdb over the phone. Still a pain on neck!!!! Can't I email them a little converter program?"

    'SSW Data Renovator' can convert all report content into a table that can be used by 'SSW Data PRO!' for automatic changes.

    So now we use 'SSW Data Renovator' to convert all the report content into a table that can be used by 'SSW Data PRO!' (a separate product*) to replay the changes automatically. (ie. Especially good in deployment).

    After you use this option a table called 'DPRDataChange' is created in 'SSW Data Renovator'. To replay this changes automatically your customer's front end and backend should be under 'SSW Data PRO!' control. In the front-end of your customer's database there should be a table called 'zsDPDataChange'. You need to copy all the records from 'DPRDataChange' in 'SSW Data PRO!' to 'zsDPDataChange' in your customer's front-end. Next time your customer runs the front end it will automatically replay the changes.

    *'SSW Data PRO!' is a utility developed by SSW to automatically commit structural changes into a Microsoft Access database.

  30. Automatic Upgrade

  31. Automatic Data Upgrade

    This should be your favourite option. 'Automatic Data Upgrade' automatically works out the structural difference between your old and new databases and copies the data from your old to your new database. You do not have to print any reports or worry about manually changing the structure and copying data (like the other options).

    When will you need to use it?

    1. If your new database has significant changes to the data structure.
    2. You have taken the database off-line. ie. You are not the going to make data changes in the client's database (old structure) while you have the copy of their data. Once you use this option to copy the data from the old database to the new database you will return this mdb in the new structure to the client.
    3. The client has been instructed not to use the database until you send them the new data version.

    When you may not want to use this option?

    If you have a very large database (>100MB) and have only made a few changes ( i.e added relationship or changed properties of a table) it is going to be a lot quicker to use the 'Compare Database Structure' method and make the few changes manually.

    This is because the 'Automatic Data Upgrade' option, copies all data from the old database to the new database.


    Using Automatic Upgrade

    You made few structural changes to in your database that you do not remember. Now you need to go out to customers and upgrade their database. You just want to copy the old data to the new database.

    1. You will need to clear all data out of the new database before you can append the old data into the new database. To do this click on the 'Clear New Database' button.
    2. Click 'Start >' on the 'Data To Delete' form. This will clear all the data from the new database.

    Auto Upgrade
    Figure: Using Automatic Upgrade

    Before it copies data it needs to analyze the structure of the old and new databases.


    Using Automatic Upgrade (continued..)

    After clearing the data in above example, click the 'Next >' button to start analyzing the structures. This will take you through the steps explained in Compare Structure.

    After comparing the structures it will show the 'Data Transfer' form. This form shows the record count in all tables of the old and new databases. Click 'Next >' to start appending data from the old database to new database.


    Data transfer  

    Figure: Using Automatic Upgrade #2


    Deployment of the new database.

    On completion of data append process, click on 'Finish' to get to the main menu.

    Now you can distribute the new database with all the old data to your client.