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Thoughts of the Lady in the Tower

2004-03-22 - 1:36 p.m.

Chatelaine database geeking

Yesterday I was over at Amalia's to work on Chatelaine stuff (I'm her deputy). I decided in a fit of brilliance (you can laugh here) to write a database for all the loaner garb. I suck at regular paperwork (like reports, that's why I refuse to be the chatelaine; I'll stay a deputy, thank you), but when I get the itch, I just do things like this. So, here's sort of an outline of where I'm trying to go with it, for those (like me) who enjoy that sort of stuff.

Organizing loaner garb is a bit new to me, so if anyone with more experience can think of things that would work better (or that I haven't thought of), feel free to comment.

There's a main table with the following fields:

  • ID # (the primary key),
  • Name (usually a color and type),
  • notes,
  • Gender (male/female/child),
  • Type (tunic, dress, chemise, etc),
  • critical dimension (waist measurement for pants, bust or chest measurement for tunics, etc),
  • Critical dimension location
  • length (or inseam for pants)
  • size (based on the measurements, cause Amalia and I suck at estimating sizes),
  • status (ready, out, needs major repair),
  • repairs needed (anything from seams need to be finished - to increase the garment's lifetime - to overdying a pair of pants that a guy would never wear (pink!) and a skirt that is so loud it hurts the eyes (and we can't imagine anyone wanting to wear it),
  • repair classification
    • slight: 3 minute fixes,
    • minor: more than 3 minutes, but still wearable
    • major: not wearable as is
    • none

So, there's some basic "cool stuff" that we can do with this...

The obvious is that you can sort by status and output a printable report of the 'ready' garb. The report that I wrote sorts first by sex, and then by size. So, someone asks you for garb, you find their size, and the available options are right next to each other.

Sorting by size was a bit tricky, since sometimes a garment was assigned up to three sizes! For example: It's a chemise, the bust measurement is 72, but it would really fit a L, XL, or XXL woman. I ended up having "size" be a lookup variable (it originally wasn't), and the table was organized S; S&M; S&M&L; M; M&L; M&L&XL, since a garment that would fit a S&M would be bigger than one that one only fit a Small. Since I populated that table in the order I wanted the sizes sorted, it worked the way I wanted (before, it sorted in alphabetical order).

This list also helps you see what categories and sizes you need to work on. For instance, there IS children's garb, but it's all in the "major repair" category. The only thing that didn't need major repairs for one reason or another were these two cute middle eastern outfits. They were very cute, but not the sort of thing I would give to the mother of a 5 year old new to the SCA and say, "this is appropriate for your child." We decided to donate them to the silent auction at Challenge of the Heart. So, the "ready" list showed us that we don't have any children's garb. Ack! Need to fix that.

Another obvious is that you can get a list of the repairs that are needed. That's a scary list to look at, but some of it is simple, and some of it is marked "Someday" (as in, this is a functional garment, but it is butt ugly and we'll think about changing it if no one wears it and we get everything else done. And there's some stuff that is in that list because it isn't a complete outfit, skirts with no tops, and such.

But there is stuff I'm still trying to figure out. Like the checkout sheets.

I want to have a form to fill out when someone borrows garb. It needs to have the borrowers name, contact information, date, and the stuff that was checked out. I want it to update the main table (so that the garb is marked as being "out"), but I don't want to have to fill out a separate form for each piece of garb.

Then, when stuff is checked back in, it needs to be changed to the "ready" status (along with adding any new needed repairs). I guess that will have to be a separate form.

I'd also like to be able to print a list of how many times each garment has been checked out over a certain time period. That may be an indicator that that garment is fugly and no one wants it, or we seem to get a bunch of guys in a certain size and need a few more tunics in that size. Too often when a chatelaine decides they have too much stuff, the 'extra' is chosen and discarded (or sold, or whatever) at random. This sort of log could be an aid in that determination.

I'm trying to remember if there was anything else... not that I can think of now.

Of course it'll all be switchboarded when I'm finished. It should be usable to people who don't know Access (since our chatelaine, for one, isn't familiar with the program).

I don't know if anyone else would care to use it, but when I feel it's ready I'll be willing to distribute a copy to anyone who asks.

Oh, and just for fun... I replaced the dividing lines on the reports with lines of cross bottonys (one of the charges on Dun Carraig's arms).