Toby and the company's EDM

Once upon a time, there was a man named Joe who worked as a document controller for a large construction company. His role was to track drawings for each project the company undertook. By the late 90s, with most of the world fully moved to the 'information age', the company decided that stacks of papers in filing cabinets was getting unwieldy. Joe was tasked with coming up with a computer-based system.

Knowing absolutely nothing about databases, a co-worker suggested that he try Access. After a quick trip to the local bookstore and a few days reading through "Learn Access in 24 Hours", he rolled up his sleeves and began.

With a few months of development and "testing", Joe came up with a system that worked fairly well. Because the entire company was running Windows, setting up a shared network drive (Z, naturally) on everyone's machines was fairly easy. The directory structure on the 'server' looked like this:

..... (and so on)

Each database contained two main tables: Jobs and Drawings. Jobs simply associated a job number with a drawing office name. Drawings listed each drawing for the project, which job number it belonged to, and when each group in the company received it. It also needed to deal with revisions for drawings which had to be tracked separately. Along with these tables were some auto-generated forms for entry and reports.

The Jobs table usually contained more information than required: since Joe had to create a new database for each project, he simply copied the most recent one, deleted everything from Drawings, and added whatever was needed to Jobs.

The years passed by uneventfully and eventually Joe received a lucrative offer from another company. Before leaving, management convinced him to stay long enough to hire his replacement, another Access "expert".

Our hero, Toby, had recently found himself jobless due to a recent "refocusing" at his company. While searching through the wants ads, he finds a job listing for developer that lists Access as the main skill. Feeling a tad overqualified, but not wanting to give up the lease on his BMW 320i, he decides to interview. After all, the company is close to home and the pay is good.

Upon breezing through the interview (Joe was the company Access expert), Toby is given the task of making sure the system is in good shape for rapid expansion over the next year. Not only will the company be taking on many new contracts from the housing boom, but people are starting to complain that it's hard to find information and scrolling through the list of 6000+ directories on the Z drive is getting annoying.