How to Create SDF Files


SDF files are small databases compatible with several versions of SQL. They are compact and self contained, so there is no need to install an SQL engine to access them. This makes SDF files easily accessible by smaller computing devices like PDAs and smartphones. They are typically designed for embedded and mobile applications.

Things You'll Need

  • SDF Viewer Application (or Microsoft Access)

Download and Create File

  • Download the SDF Viewer (see link in References). Click "Download Now." When prompted, save the file to a location on your computer. Be sure you are aware of the drive and location so that you can find this file later when needed. Run SDF Viewer by clicking on the icon on your desktop.

  • Click New > Database > 3.1. You may chose a "3.5" database as your new database if this is what you need.

  • Type the name of your new database, and click "Save." Be sure to save your database to a location you will be able to find later. Your database is now created. However, a database is useless without defining what to store in it.

Create a Table

  • Open SDF Viewer and select your SDF file. If your SDF was recently opened in SDF Viewer, you will find it listed under "File" from the menu bar. If your SDF file is not listed under File, click File > Open to search for your SDF file. When you have found your SDF file, select the name. Click "Open."

  • Click New > Table to display the Table Designer. Type the name of your new table in the "Table Name" text field. Enter the name of your first column of this table in the "Column Name" field. Click "Add New." This will display the Column Designer.

  • Enter the properties for the new table column. Click "OK." You cannot create a table with no columns, so a table must have a least one column before it can be saved in your SDF file. Click "OK" to complete the creation of your new table.

Add a New Column

  • Open the SDF Viewer and select your SDF file. If your SDF was recently opened in the SDF Viewer, you will find it listed under "File" from the menu bar. If your SDF file is not listed under "File," click File > Open to search for it. When you have found your SDF file, select the name and click "Open."

  • Right click the table name for which you want to add a new column and click "Add New Column." The Column Designer dialog appears.

  • Type your new column name in the "Column Name" field. Enter the properties of your new column, and click "OK."

Tips & Warnings

  • Microsoft Access can also be used to create SDF files. But if you do not have Microsoft Access and all you want to do is edit, create and view SDF files, you will find the cost of the SDF Viewer (approximately $30 in 2009) significantly more affordable than buying Access (approximately $230).
  • The SDF Viewer is fully functional for 15 days. After that time, you must purchase a software key to continue using the application. Your SDF files will not be affected by the trial period, however.

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