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OST - 20.01 What is a Database and Why Do I Need One?

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A database is a system that stores all of the data used in On-Screen Takeoff, Digital Production Control, or Quick Bid such as: Takeoff, Employees, Styles and Style Sets, Items/Pricing, Percenting, and Timecard information. and links to image files along with all the Projects you create. Think of a database as sort of a file cabinet in which you store all your project data.

Creating a database is the first step to working with the On-Screen Takeoff, Quick Bid, or Digital Production Control. There are two databases included with your product - one includes example projects, the other is a blank database where you can start creating Bids.

Some clients create a database for each employee, while others use one for each different geographic location, each office, or even a separate database for each Project. Keeping your databases organized makes it easier to apply the default settings that match the needs of a particular project. See CLS - Best Practices for some advice on database/bid management.

Whatever method used to manage databases, you need to understand:

  • How to create a database (the program does all the hard work for you...)
  • How to synchronize a new database to an existing database (this means you do not have to 'recreate the wheel' each time you create a new database)
  • Setup database options, defaults, and preferences (options do not transfer from one database to another) (covered in Related Articles)
  • Share databases (the Do's and Don'ts)
  • Database Maintenance (Backing up and Compact/Repairing)

The articles that follow detail these concepts.

Database Types

There are two types of databases: Microsoft Access® and Microsoft SQL Server®

  • Access - the default is Microsoft Access - this type of database is suitable for a single user who stores their databases on their local computer. There is nothing you need to install to use Microsoft Access databases with your product.
  • SQL - if you need to share a database among multiple users or store a database on a network, you must use Microsoft SQL.

Determine which type of database suits the needs of your organization and follow the directions provided in the articles that follow for creating that type of database.

See CLS - Using SQL with Classic Products for more information about database types and suggestions on use.

Cloud Storage

Many of our clients have asked us if they can store their images, databases, etc. in 'the cloud' using a service such as Google Drive, OneDrive/SkyDrive (Microsoft), or DropBox. The short answer is that it is not recommended although some of our customers use the programs in this fashion. Keep in mind, the way some of these services work places a temporary "lock" on files so those files can be uploaded periodically to the 'cloud'. While this is acceptable for a word processing document or a photo, a live database should not be stored in this manner. Access-type databases set/remove file locks on the file to protect it from anyone, any program, from interfering with a user's ability to read-write to the database - if another application or utility places locks on the Access database files, this could cause problems with your software, including corrupt databases and crashes.

You are more than welcome to store your Backups in a cloud-synchronized folder, in fact, we recommend it!  Just set the "Backups" folder to your cloud drive and the backup copies of your databases will be safe and sound.

Please see CLS - Can I Use "Cloud" Storage? for more information storing your data in the Cloud.

Options - Analytics Opening and Closing Databases

Product documentation (user guides) describes functionality in the latest version of each major release and may not match the functionality in the version you are using. Please check the Product Information and Downloads pages by clicking one of the product buttons above.

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