In the beginning . . . . .
One of the largest Zebrafish Facilities in Sweden was started up early in 2005. A paper-based system was introduced to keep track of the fish stocks and two Excel tables were used to keep track of deaths and crosses.

Every time a new batch of eggs came into the facility it was necessary to manually fill in a paper form and store it in a folder. It had:

  • Stock number
  • Date of birth
  • Genotype
  • Tank location
  • Source
  • Parents
  • Etc. etc.

Evolution . . . .
Around the middle of 2005 one of the technicians, who subsequently became manager of the Facility, approached Brian Rothery, an IT consultant specialised in databases, to discuss the possibility of a more sophisticated solution. They decided to use Microsoft Access, a component of the Microsoft Office suite, to build a database to replace the existing system.

Construction started in September 2005.

As both were involved in other more urgent projects at the time, it took until April 2006 before all the stock figures had been entered and the Excel tables imported for the last time and retired.

Today . . .
The database is now in use on a daily basis. It keeps track of all the fish stocks and gives a good overview of the state of the Zebrafish facility and its progress. According to the facility manager ”It is an invaluable tool to help me run the fish facility.”

The main menu

The update options
Not all options are available to all users. The Master table data, used to validate information entered using the Stock and Mating Log programs, are only available to the database administrator user profile. Normal users do not even see them.

Maintaining the stock information

Maintaining the Mating Log

Some master data update windows
These can only be accessed by the Administrator user profile. They control the behaviour of other programs and are rarely changed.

The Report options
This menu is new. So far, there is only one report. Notice the bug! The heading should say “Run reports” not “Open user queries”.

This program is used when a new batch of baby fish is to be introduced to the aquarium. A large batch may need to be split among ten or twelve fish tanks and each one needs an identifying label. Formerly, these were hand written on expensive pre-printed labels. Now the database produces them from the information already stored in the Stock table.

The Queries
The difference between an Access report and a query is that reports go straight to the printer. A query is first displayed on the screen, letting the user decide whether to print it, or just look at the information and close the query again without using any paper.

Here you can see where the wrong text on the reports menu was copied from,

Most queries start by prompting the user to enter parameters such as Stock Number, from and to dates or search criteria etc.

Some sample query results

The Management Information options