Generating MS Access templates for datasets

MS Access is relatively simple to use but powerful and popular relational database management software and format for database distribution. In contrary to the other Reportnet data reporting formats (like MS Excel), the MS Access template provides better control on what data can be entered into it thus preventing generation of errors and other data quality issues.

The DD dataset structure is fully generated when the MS Access template is first time opened. Every dataset table is present in the template (name starting with “_”) as well as all relevant code lists. Relations between the data tables and code lists are created too. All data element attributes defined in the DD, like mandatoriness, data type and allowable value ranges, are transformed to the respective table field properties.

After the template is generated, each time you open it a start-up form opens. The form provides important information about the template, guidance texts (defining among others what you are and are not allowed to do in the template) and simplified copy of the whole DD the template was generated from. It also contains access to a series of advanced functions, like integrity checks or export functions.

The MS Access template however shouldn’t be used as a solitary option for reporting the data via CDR. At the moment it is not technically possible to extract data from the template and therefore the Automatic QA (if implemented in the CDR) wouldn’t be possible to check the data and to provide valuable feedback to the data reporter. For this reason the data entered into the template should be exported either to XLS template or to XML files. The MS Access template provides the respective export functions which are easy to use. The result of the export then can be safely uploaded to the CDR together with the filled MS Access template.