What is unique identifier and how to use it?

By Tech Target definition "A unique identifier (UID) is a numeric or alphanumeric string that is associated with a single entity within a given system. UIDs make it possible to address that entity, so that it can be accessed and interacted with.” This sounds very logical to everyone who had a chance to use UIDs or to listen to someone who knew how to describe and explain true nature, usage and need for UIDs.

Since our administration dbBee wizard will ask you to define table UID in order to function normally, we feel that we should explain this term in more details.

In a simple database there are some columns (referred as database fields or table fields) and some rows (referred as data record or record). For this example we’ll take a database that has these columns: name, surname, email, company and position.

In a simple database there are some columns (referred as database fields or table fields) and some rows (referred as data record or record).

Columns A,B,C,D,E are database fields. Row number 1 contains column labels that are used as field names. Rows from number 2 to number 6 are records.

As you can see, in this case, one record represents information about single person: person name, surname, e-mail, company and position. These 5 persons are all different individuals. To any human that fact is obvious, but to a computer software that is far from obvious. Computers simply do not have ability to understand the context and to decide are we talking about 5 different or 5 same persons.

So we need the pace of information that is different for every of these persons. That pace of information is UID or unique identifier.

Now, if we look over name, email, company and position fields it is clearly visible that we have data that is repeated. We have two Sophies, we have two same e-mails, two same companies and we have Advisor position repeated twice. So, the only field (column) with unique data for every of these 5 persons is surname. So, one could think that we could use field surname as unique identifier. But, it is more than clear that it is high probability that with the time we will have two same UIDs (two persons with the same surname).

So, if we think carefully, we will realize that there is no field in this database or any combination of fields that theoretically cannot be repeated. What can we do?

We could find the peace of information regarding every person which is different for every person and in the column F add that information. Such information is, for example, social security number that can’t be repeated and is unique for every person that has it.

We could find the peace of information regarding every person which is different for every person and in the column F add that information.

The main problem with SSN is that nobody likes to share information of that kind and it is a security risk. For instance, if we talk about cars, we can use VIN number but if we talk about used car parts, it would be hard to find unique information to identify every single part.

Probably the best solution is to use random number generated by computer system that will take care that every single value is unique. If you are going to use Access, it will by default add UID to your database except if you decide to use some of your fields as an UID or explicitly instruct Access not to use such field (Access calls it "primary key”). So in most cases UID will be defined.

But, if you are planning to use Excel file (xls or xlsx) as a database, then there is no system tool within Excel that will take care about that. Luckily dbBee will ask you to define your UID either as a combination of fields or as an automatically generated identifier (UID).

Luckily dbBee will ask you to define your UID either as a combination of fields or as an automatically generated identifier (UID).

In general, you should just click green "click here” button and UID will be automatically generated and added to your dbBee project and also to your Excel table.

In general, you should just click green 'click here” button and UID will be automatically generated and added to your dbBee project and also to your Excel table.

 

The added value is large enough and formatted in a way that you will never be able to exceed UID number capacity.

The added value is large enough and formatted in a way that you will never be able to exceed UID number capacity

After all, the great thing is that with dbBee you don’t need to think about UIDs at all. Just let the dbBee does the job and you will be able to focus on nicely formatting your project and making money out of your data. If you need any help regarding UID or any help at all please do not hesitate to contact our support.



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