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30/12/08 - Ed's journal
How would you explain the difference between spreadsheet and database to someone who doesn't really appreciate the distinction?


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ree_ From: ree_ Date: December 30th, 2008 09:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Go with the book-keeping/accounting vs. data storage. It worked for my mother.
cbr_paul From: cbr_paul Date: December 30th, 2008 11:51 am (UTC) (Link)
That's as good a layperson's explanation I can think of: calculating rather than looking up records.
_gh0st_ From: _gh0st_ Date: December 30th, 2008 11:13 am (UTC) (Link)
and mention Excel as an example for a spreadsheet. everyone has used that surely?
queex From: queex Date: December 30th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
To add to the previous:

A spreadsheet is one big piece of paper.

A database is a number of different pieces of paper of varying sizes. No matter what you do, you can't get it all down onto a single sheet of any size.

(Not strictly true, but we should keep the horror of the single table database well out of the picture).


To change something in a spreadsheet, you need to change a lot of things- like altering the date on a large number of newsletters by hand. To change something on a database, you only have to change the sign on the noticeboard- everyone who needs the information will come and look at it.
darkgodfred From: darkgodfred Date: December 30th, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
A database is a very clever filing cabinet. It allows you to store information such that it can be easily found, sorted and crossreferenced.

A spreadsheet is a very clever calculator. It does lots of complicated maths and makes numbers dance.
oftendistracted From: oftendistracted Date: December 30th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
A spreadsheet is something that only one person can edit or look up data from at a time (read-only versions notwithstanding).

A database is a collection of spreadsheets, all of which exist and may be accessed or modified concurrently.
darkgodfred From: darkgodfred Date: December 30th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Unless your database is Access. In which case you've already made a mistake.
necessitysslave From: necessitysslave Date: January 6th, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh so true!!!!
mcnazgul From: mcnazgul Date: December 30th, 2008 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
"A spreadsheet is used primarily for calculating or inventory. A database is used for organising records in tables and finding stuff in those records which may be of interest. If you want to know more that'll be £250 a day, plus expenses, for a consultation."

@darkgodfred: Love the filing cabinet description. And Access isn't a mistake. It's just that people have unrealistic ideas about what it's capable of. One doesn't get Frankenstein's Monster to do the dishes, no matter how flowery his pinafore.
crashbarrier From: crashbarrier Date: January 9th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Welcome to my world:D:D:D:D:D:D:D, Where excel is used as a database....*cries*
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