Microsoft KB Archive/170986

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Knowledge Base

ACC: How to Fill a Table with Random Records from Another Table

Article ID: 170986

Article Last Modified on 1/20/2007


  • Microsoft Access 95 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Access 97 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q170986

Advanced: Requires expert coding, interoperability, and multiuser skills.


This article demonstrates a method that you can use to fill a table with random records from another table. The sample procedure in this article uses Data Access Objects (DAO) to fill a table with a user-specified number of records from an existing table. The following example randomly selects records from the Orders table in the Northwind sample database and adds them to a new table.

This article assumes that you are familiar with Visual Basic for Applications and with creating Microsoft Access applications using the programming tools provided with Microsoft Access. For more information about Visual Basic for Applications, please refer to your version of the "Building Applications with Microsoft Access" manual.


One way that you can get a certain number of random records from a table is to create a query based on the table. You can create an expression that applies the Rnd() function to a Number field in the table; if there is no Number field available, you can apply the Len() function to a text field and then apply the Rnd() function to the result. Next, you set the sort order of this calculated field to ascending or descending, and then select from the table the other fields that you want to see in the query result. Finally, you set the query's TopValues property to the number of records you want.

However, there is a disadvantage to this method. When you start Microsoft Access and run the query, a particular set of records is returned, which can be referred to as "Recordset A." You may run the query several more times with different results, and then quit Microsoft Access. The next time you start Microsoft Access and run the query, the result is again Recordset A.

One resolution is to run a procedure that uses DAO to fill a table with a specified number of records from an existing table; this procedure also uses the Randomize statement to reinitialize the random-number generator. The following steps demonstrate how to use the sample subroutine BuildRandomTable.

  1. Open the sample database Northwind.mdb.
  2. Create the following table:

          Table: tblRandom
          Field Name: lngGuessNumber
             Data Type: Number
             Field Size: Long Integer
             Indexed: Yes (No Duplicates)
          Field Name: lngOrderNumber
             Data Type: Number
             Field Size: Long Integer
             Indexed: No
          Table Properties: tblRandom
          PrimaryKey: lngGuessNumber
  3. Create a module and type the following line in the Declarations section if it is not already there:

          Option Explicit
  4. Type the following procedure:

          Sub BuildRandomTable(lngRequest as Long)
             Dim dbsRandom As Database
             Dim rstOrders As Recordset
             Dim rstRandom As Recordset
             Dim UpperLimit As Long
             Dim LowerLimit As Long
             Dim lngCounter As Long
             Dim lngGuess As Long
             Dim lngRecordCount As Long
             ' Assumes that this module is in the Northwind database.
             Set dbsRandom = CurrentDb
             ' Delete any existing records from tblRandom table.
             dbsRandom.Execute "Delete * from tblRandom;"
             ' Open Orders as a Table Type recordset.
             Set rstOrders = dbsRandom.OpenRecordset("Orders", dbOpenTable)
             LowerLimit = rstOrders!OrderID
             UpperLimit = rstOrders!OrderID
             lngRecordCount = rstOrders.RecordCount
             Set rstRandom = dbsRandom.OpenRecordset("tblRandom", _
             lngCounter = 1
             ' Check to make sure the number of
             ' records requested is reasonable.
             If lngRequest > lngRecordCount Then
                MsgBox "Request is greater than the total number of records."
                Exit Sub
                lngRequest = lngRequest + 1
             End If
             Do Until lngCounter = lngRequest
                ' Generate a random number
                lngGuess = Int((UpperLimit - LowerLimit + 1) _
                   * Rnd + LowerLimit)
             ' Ensure that it exists in the Orders table.
             rstOrders.Index = "PrimaryKey"
             rstOrders.Seek "=", lngGuess
             If rstOrders.NoMatch Then
                ' Drop through and generate a new number.
                ' Check to see if it's already been used in the new table.
                rstRandom.FindFirst "lngOrderNumber =" & lngGuess
                ' If not, add it to the new table.
                If rstRandom.NoMatch Then
                    With rstRandom
                        !lngGuessNumber = lngCounter
                        !lngOrderNumber = lngGuess
                    End With
                    lngCounter = lngCounter + 1
                End If
              End If
              ' Clean up.
          End Sub
  5. To test this procedure, type the following line in the Debug window, and then press ENTER:

    BuildRandomTable 5


For more information about using a query to select random records, please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

128874: ACC: Find N Records in Random Order

For more information about the Rnd function and the Randomize statement, search the Help Index for "random numbers."

Additional query words: seed

Keywords: kbcode kbhowto KB170986