Been doing some more thinking on this over the past few days and changed my thoughts on the data base layout and design versus how it might be used by various members and after learning a little bit more about excel. My thanks to member chieffan for helping me to explore what excel can be used for in regards to a data base / filing system.
I now envision creating an excel workbook that contains a multiple number of worksheets. For those unfamiliar with excel and its terminology I shall try and compare it to an old style parts book for my vision. Imagine that an excel work book is similar to a big parts book and that each worksheet (indicated by the tabs at the bottom) is a separate chapter in the parts book. Each chapter can contain one or more pages including pictures, drawings, comments, notes and other information. For this purpose I am planning on creating a worksheet (chapter) for each attachment and adding the picture illustrations from the parts list for each attachment in that worksheet. The item #, part number, description and quantity used columns would be added as recognizable text (data). The reason I am thinking this may be the way to go is that, unlike Doug's tractor database, the attachment data base can be used as an illustrated parts list file for multiple attachments - so instead of needing to have a parts list for each attachment this can serve as a master attachment parts list for those that wish to use it that way. Once the part numbers have been entered into the database they can be searched the same as in Doug's database (if the search parameter is changed to the workbook from worksheet) and when "find all" is selected for the search a list will populate that shows if the part number exists and in which attachments it is used (by indicating the worksheets that contain that number). A user can also download the excel workbook file and if they want to add a note or comment about their individual machine it can be added in the "notes" cell - either as regular text or as a "comment" in a cell that pops up when you move the cursor over it or click on that cell. I have attached a sample workbook that I have been working on over the last few days to illustrate the above points. It contains two models of snow casters - each with more than one series and in the one case because the original parts list covered two models the data base shows it the same way. Since I have been working on my 18538 snow caster I made a few notes on some of the items on it - they are items 46, 53, 54, 57, 60 and 69. If you notice the Notes column cells on the 18538 worksheet contain a small red triangle in the upper right corner which indicates there is a text comment and placing the cursor over that cell makes the comment appear. The comment could have also been entered in as plain text but I chose adding the comment message since it allows the cell to remain the size it is empty without disturbing the format of the worksheet pages in case someone wanted to print the worksheet off as a paper parts list for there workshop reference. If the cell changed size because of text wrapping then the picture might print off as half on one page and half on another page. The word comment could be added in the cell if someone had a problem seeing the small red triangle but for my purposes the triangle works fine and allows the page to remain looking uncluttered if it was printed off or viewed on the screen.
Of course the file size of the workbook will grow as more information and illustration pages are added to the workbook and this may necessitate the data base being broken down into tubeframe attachments, large frame attachments, etc or by coverage as in snow caster, lawn deck, etc. as the file size becomes too large or the number of worksheets becomes unmanageable. At this point my thoughts are that having to look in three or four series of workbooks would be better than scouring the numerous different parts illustrations that we have to now and that once the part numbers are entered in initially the information in the worksheets can then be copied and pasted into other programs that are better suited for this type of data if and when they become available by someone much computer smarter than me.
Some of the things I found just by doing a quick search between the two parts lists is that the chain used on the 18538 (item # 53 part # 1714363) is also the same number used on the 18514 and 18516 snow caster (item #1) and the brass screw on the 18538 chute rod (item # 12 part # 1102571) is also the same as on the 18514 and 18516 (item #82). While these are not earth shattering they do illustrate the value of such a data base at finding parts that would interchange as well as noting the description for the screw in the 18538 model that was provided by Bolens does not indicate it was brass rather than steel whereas the description in the 18514 and 18516 model does so that more information about a part number may be learned.
Right now the workbook is small (with only the two snow caster parts lists it contains) but it is a start that I am hoping will help current and future Bolens owners as well as the parts people who help us keep these great machines alive. Any journey begins with a single step and similarly this is a starting point for this journey of compiling useful data on the attachments.
Edited by 29 Chev, January 31, 2020 - 03:16 AM.