This month's issue is a little different. With the imminent release of Office 2000, there's a new version of Access just around the corner: Access 2000 (note the use of the four-digit year; otherwise, we would have had "Access Oh-Oh"). To keep you informed of what's going on, we've devoted most of this issue to a look at what we think are the neatest new features of the latest version of Access. Sort of one-stop upgrade shopping.
I wrote the lead article on ADO in this issue (see "Accessing ADO"). I wanted to give you a feeling of how ADO changes things when you're creating database applications with Access 2000. ADO is going to revolutionize the way we think about database tools, and it looks ready to start creating mission-critical applications right now.
One of the thrusts of Microsoft Office has been to integrate Web-based technologies into the desktop. With Microsoft Office 2000, you can no longer think of Web-oriented tools as some arcane technology only relevant to creating Internet Web sites. Office uses HTML as just another format for storing information and makes the Web (internal or external) the pre-eminent way for Office users to share and integrate information. As Angela J. R. Jones shows in her article this issue, "Access 2000 Web Page Advice from a Total Beginner," getting your data Web-ified using Access is easy to do -- even if you don't know anything about Web applications. At least once you get past the beta problems.
But perhaps the biggest change in Access, after ADO, is the inclusion of SQL Server Desktop in the enterprise version. This single-user version of Access allows users to build applications that run against Microsoft's top-of-the-line database engine without leaving their desktops. It also allows SQL Server developers to build a complete development environment that's independent of the network and its servers. I think this will go a long way to making Access the primary tool for developing SQL Server front ends. This month, James Beidleman, a long-time SQL Server developer, takes a look at the version of SQL Server that comes with Access (see "One Big Step for Access, One Huge Leap Toward SQL Server").
Will you convert to Access 2000 right away? Probably not. Would you like to? Probably yes. After all, who doesn't like a new toy? I've been playing with the beta of the new version of Access for a couple of months now, and I'm impressed. On the other hand, I'm not rushing out to convert any of my clients to Access 2000. Over the next few months, though, I'll probably be recommending that at least a couple of my clients with large, frequently accessed databases bite the bullet and begin the migration to the latest version of Office. And I'm already using ADO wherever I can.
Having said all that, you won't be seeing a lot about Access 2000 in upcoming issues. While we'll continue to provide you with information and updates, my primary focus is going to remain on techniques for the tools that you're using right now: Access 2.0, 95, and 97. That does, however, include articles getting you up to speed on ADO, which you can start using in Access 95 and 97. We'll give you the technical information you need on the tools that you're using, and, when you're ready to convert, we'll make sure that you know why you want to, what's waiting for you (good and bad), and how you're going to do it.
As an example, this month's issue includes an article and a tool that will give you greater control over replication in Access 95, 97, and 2000 from two of the gurus of replication. Mary Chipman and Mike Kaplan have been working with the latest version of Jet for some time now and managed to find the time to contribute their article on a Synchronization object that Mike has developed (see "Introducing the TSI Synchronizer Object" in this issue). If you've been shying away from replication, this article should give you the knowledge you need to start using this powerful tool.