Database Basics

Databases use tables, arranged like a grid.  At first glance this looks like a spreadsheet, and in fact you can do some very limited database operations in Excel.

The biggest difference between the database and the spreadsheet is with the the top row, which has the names of the columns or fields.  This row does not move when you scroll the database, and the computer finds values by using the name--the order of the columns does not matter, and you can even drag them around, or resize them, or hide those you do not want to see.

The database rows are called records; in the example at left, each refers to a volcano.

The database columns are called fields, and in GIS are often referred to as attributes.  Each record as a number of attributes such as location, name, elevation, and so on.

Last revision 12/25/2016