Database design software is an application program that allows the end user to create a custom database according to his specific needs. A database is a collection of information, or records, categorized in a manner that allows for easy retrieval. A phone book is a simple database in which the principal data — consisting of name, address, and phone number — is usually organized, or sorted, by last name.
A computer database stores information in a tabular format, in which each table refers to a specific item that must be stored and retrieved, such as customers, invoices, or payments. Fields, which are temporary placeholders for information, are typically arrayed separately across the columns of the table. Each individual row in such a table represents a unique and individual record, which contains all the essential identifying information as stored in each of the various fields. For example, in a contact database that stores information about people, the fields may contain essential information about each individual contact, such as name, phone number, and work and home addresses.
Many popular database programs, such as email and contact applications, come equipped with predetermined fields into which the user can enter relevant information. In general, the designated fields that come with these prepackaged consumer programs cannot be modified or altered. Database design software differs from these common programs in that the user can create specific fields that are appropriate for his needs, and arrange or incorporate them within an overall database.
Database design software allows individuals to define the entities or categories that need to be tracked by creating the appropriate number of tables. Most of this software allows users to establish relationships between the various tables or categories of information. Once a connection or common link between tables is made, information from one table can be displayed in another, related table. This feature often helps to reduce redundant data entry.
Many database design software programs afford the user flexibility in creating a customized graphical interface. Specific fields designated by the user can be placed on various screens, or layouts, in any manner the user chooses, in order to meet his particular needs. This allows him to view the stored data in a variety of useful and meaningful ways.
The inherent flexibility provided by database design software enables users to design and generate customized reports for information analysis. The software also allows a user to categorize and easily group stored data by any field so that information can be summarized, and any trends can easily be discerned. For example, secondary school test scores could be tracked by the students' grades, by classroom teacher, and by the students’ gender.