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What made me do the database

Wolfgang Bleier, Austria
August 2006

Things took their course when I have purchased a reel to reel tape recorder in autumn 2005. Somehow I got fascinated by these reels that produce sound while turning in a circle. Kind of magic. I just wanted to have it not only because it looks cool, but I had no idea of how much passion I would develop with time.

I could get a beautiful, mint Revox B77 MKII high-speed ¼" two-track recorder, a rare studio backup machine equipped with a real time counter. Thanks to Mr Anton Straka of Austrian-Analog-Audio in Vienna, Austria, who was very helpful and patient in answering a beginner’s naive questions, I was able gain knowledge very quick about this "new" analogue audio tape "thing".

Recording documentation

From the very beginning I got used to plan and keep records about every recording session. After I've recorded about ten or more tapes, it came that I have lost control of songs I had already recorded on tape while planning the arrangement of the next tapes. So I was aiming for a simple but effective solution to trace duplicates: I have set up a simple table in a database system, which, by a primary key field, tracked down songs I had already on one of my tapes as soon as I have entered the song’s title. In this way I was able to avoid duplicates of songs that I had already recorded on tape.
Well, since simple solutions never were good enough, ambition took control of my initial simple idea and I started to improve. To cut a long story, I ended up with a database application developed by using Microsoft ® Access 97™ and more recent versions including Access 2007™.

Reel to Reel 2006 © has its focus on tape recordings made on consumer and professional 1/4" Open Reel Tape Recorders. I use this database to plan and document recordings on half- and full-track audio tape and on audio cassettes. I have never tried to document recordings on other tape formats, but I am pretty sure Reel to Reel 2006 © won't fail.

Some time later, when my Studer A710 cassette tape deck has joined the Revox family (again, Mr Straka had to deal with a whole array of my funny questions), "ambition" came back and I have extended the Reel to Reel 2006 © database. The added module for cassette recordings does not list recorded songs in individual data sets related to a cassette like the open reel module does for open reel tapes. It is designed to log mainly general information of LPs or CDs, entirely recorded on cassette. But for those who need more recording details I gave it also a memo-field in which information about recorded songs and artist's names, or any other relevant recording information can be saved and optionally also be printed on the Cassette Labels.

In summer 2006 I have completed Reel to Reel 2006 © with the module "Record Archives", which is the archive for Vinyl Longplay and/or Compact Disc records. In 2007 and the following years I have modified Reel to Reel 2006 to be compatible with more recent Microsoft Access versions, have improved various functions and implemented new query forms.

Please consider that Reel to Reel 2006 © was developed for home use, and, although I am very satisfied with its performance and features, it may not satisfy any and all professional needs.


System Protection

Reel to Reel 2006 © works with Microsoft ® Access 2007™, Access 2010™, Access 2013™ and Access 2016™ database-management software and comes in the ACCDB (since Access 2007) file format. It allows access to the database window by using the permanent administrator password and to modify the programming of Reel to Reel 2006 © including, but not limited to:

Viewing, modifying, or creating forms, reports, or modules in design view,
Conversion of the Reel to Reel file to a more recent version,
Adding, deleting, or changing references to object libraries or databases,
Changing code using the properties or methods of the Microsoft ® Access™ or VBA Object models,
Changing your database's VBA project name using the Options dialog box,
Importing or exporting forms, reports, or modules, and Importing and exporting of database objects.
(Source of Information: Microsoft ® Access™ Help)

As a ACCDB database file, Reel to Reel 2006 © is not fully protected from changes in the database programming, however, access to Reel to Reel 2006 © and your data can be protected by adding a personal Password. You can set (respectively unset) a Password in the form User Settings, or when pointing the File menu.
When a Password is set, the next time when you open Reel to Reel 2006 © a dialog box will be displayed that requests your Password (respectively, if you have unset your Password, this dialog box will not appear until you have set again a Password).
Be cautious: If you lose or forget your Password, it can't be recovered and you won't be able to open your database. To learn more about database security and passwords please read the relevant sections in Microsoft ® Access™ Help, for setting a Password follow the step-by-step instructions in the Reel to Reel 2006 © Help Center, Part 4, “Installation of Reel to Reel 2006 ©”.


Getting started, and how to use?

Working with Reel to Reel 2006 requires Microsoft® Access 2007 (including Office 2007 Service Pack 1 or a later SP), Access 2010™, Access 2013™ or Access 2016™ installed on your PC, which comes together with the widely distributed Microsoft® Office Pro software or as stand alone Access™ software. You can run Reel to Reel 2006 © also on Access 2007 Runtime. Access 2007 Runtime is free Microsoft software that can be downloaded free of charge without license from the the Microsoft website. When Microsoft ® Access is installed on your PC, copy the Reel to Reel 2006 © database file together with the Reel to Reel 2006 © Help Center (html help file) to the preferred directory on your computer. Start the database and make the required Microsoft ® Access software settings according to the installation instructions provided in the Reel to Reel 2006 © Help Center.

Reel to Reel 2006 © is a Microsoft ® Access™ based database application, available in the above mentioned file formats (earlier mdb database files for Access 97, 2000 and 2003 are no longer maintained and supported). It is important that you will use a file format of Reel to Reel 2006 ©, which corresponds to the Microsoft Access software version installed on your computer. Should you run a more recent version of Microsoft ® Access™ on your PC than your Reel to Reel 2006 © database file, you may want to convert Reel to Reel 2006 © into the respective file format. Before you convert Reel to Reel 2006 © into another version of Access, consider that some functionality of the database may be lost. Therefore always give the converted file a new name and retain a copy of the Reel to Reel 2006 © file in the original version that you have initially downloaded or used before.

After you have copied the Reel to Reel 2006 database and help files to the same folder and you have made the software settings in Microsoft Access as per the instructions provided in the Reel to Reel 2006 © Help Center, double click the Reel to Reel 2006 V2007.accdb file to start the database. In case a password is already set, you will be asked to enter your personal password before the Start Screen will be displayed.
Before you continue to Record Archives, Open Reel or Cassette recording form to enter data for the first time, open "User Settings" and fill in user name(s) and information about the equipment in your home studio. These preset data can later be comfortably used in combo-boxes in the Record Archives, Open Reel and Cassette recording forms. Once you have saved your name and equipment data in the form User Settings, return to the Start Screen to use Reel to Reel 2006 ©.

Generally all forms, fields and command buttons contained within the forms of the user interface are self-explanatory in one way or another. Reel to Reel 2006 © is programmed with validation rules to display messages as soon as data in certain fields do not comply with the database conventions and rules, and to prevent you from actions you should not do, or to remind you what you should do.

Navigation in database forms

To learn more about navigation in database forms you should read the Microsoft ® Access™ Help files, which are accessible from the custom Help Menu of Reel to Reel 2006 ©.
Generally use your mouse to navigate between forms by clicking labeled navigation buttons or pictures in forms, or use the custom menu of Reel to Reel 2006 ©. For some important data set and form operations Reel to Reel has got also a Context Menu (click right mouse button).

Within a form, the TAB key moves the cursor through the fields of a form, the BACKSPACE key deletes data in a field.
Moving from an open (edited) data set to the next or a new data set, saves the data in the set which you leave.
Depending on the form (single form or continuous form), you move from data set to data set either with the PAGE UP/PAGE DOWN keys or with the TAB-key, or with mouse-clicks on record navigation buttons which are available in most forms.
Closing a form saves edited or new data automatically, to terminate data entry press ESC.
To delete entire data sets you may use either the CUSTOM MENU of Reel to Reel 2006 ©, or, if record selectors are available within a form, you can mark the entire set with the record selector(s) and press the DELETE key.

When working with a database you should consider that unintended deletion of data may easily happen. Therefore the Record Archives, Open Reel and Audio Cassette forms are provided with Lock/Unlock toggle buttons. When such toggle button is in locked (down) position, it is not possible to delete or edit data in fields, or to delete entire data sets. To enable editing or deletion of data, switch these toggle buttons in unlocked (up) position. Lock a data set again after you have completed data input in this dataset.

Reel to Reel 2006 © Menu

The database has a custom menu for the navigation between various forms and data sets and to perform miscellaneous actions like copy-, paste-, delete- and a number of other commands.
The content of a menu-bar can change, depending on the form that has the focus. Please note that some forms (for example dialog forms) have “modal” and/or “pop-up” property, which prevents access to the Menu-bar and to other open forms until the dialog form is closed again. Some useful commands for form and record set operations are also available in a context menu, or you may click also the Tab “Extras” in the Record Archives, Open Reel and Audio Cassette forms in which you can click command buttons to access other relevant forms, such as dialogs for print services or the form to establish Genres.

Primary Key

In the Reel to Reel 2006 © Help Center you will read the term "primary key" in connection with the description of fields contained in various forms.

Primary key fields are one of the key elements in good database design. It is the strength of relational database systems to query information, which is saved in different tables, very fast. In order to achieve efficient query of data, each table in a database should have one field, which uniquely identifies each dataset saved in a table.
A field, which requires unique values is called primary key (or it can also be a combined primary key from several fields, like the "Cassette ID" in the Audio Cassette Form which combines 3 fields to a combined primary key).
In other words, a primary key does not accept duplicates of values that already exist in this field in other data sets. In practice this means that you cannot save a data set when it contains a duplicate value in the primary key, for example the tape number in the dataset of an open reel tape, when you have used that tape number already earlier for another tape. In the event that you try to save a dataset with a duplicate in the primary key, the database will prevent you from doing so and display a message.
As a general rule in the Reel to Reel 2006 © database a field with primary key property displays the data in red color.

For better understanding of essential issues in database design and certain features of Reel to Reel 2006 © you will find more details in the Essay Reel to Reel 2006 © - how does it work.