LIFE keeps getting more complicated for the editor of a Microsoft newsletter. To begin with, there’s my obligation to meet the needs of a diverse group ofAccess developers (intermediate to advanced, lone developers, members of a programming team, consultants, and corporate developers). Then there’s the issue of supporting the two to four different versions of Access (95/97, 2000/2002)—with a new version on the way. While many developers are very happy with Jet/ MDB development, others have moved on to client/ server development using SQL Server/MSDE or other database management systems (say, Oracle). On top of that there’s the variety of packages that Access developers may want to integrate with: Outlook, Microsoft Office, Visual Basic, .NET Framework, among other third-party packages. Finally, of course, there’s always the Web (I shouldn’t say finally—there’s probably lots of other things that you want to know about that I haven’t listed here). It’s tough.
I know—whine, whine, whine. If the job is such a problem, move on. But I like the challenge. As you’ve probably noticed, Smart Access is trying to meet all of those needs.
For instance, in the long run, there’s probably a client/server database in your future. So we’ve been running articles aimed at Jet/MDB developers who want to learn what they’ll need to build client/server applications within the Access environment. Russell Sinclair has been helming that effort most recently. For instance, one of the major limitations of Access Data Projects is the absence of tools to manage SQL Server. Last month Russell filled that gap (at least as far as managing security) with an Access add-in.
For a number of years we’ve helped you with understanding SQL with the “Working SQL” column. This month, Russell starts a new series to give Access developers the same depth of understanding with SQL Server’s programming language native to SQL Server: T-SQL. Russell approaches this topic from the point of view of an Access developer rather than a SQL Server developer.
For most of the past year Danny Lesandrini has been running our reviewer’s corner, introducing you to new products that will make you more productive as a developer. For those of us who thought that the world of Access tools consisted of FMS’s excellent product line and Speed Ferret, Danny has uncovered a wealth of tools to meet a variety of needs. For those who are considering client/server development and find the MSDE inadequate, Danny even got Smart Access readers a special deal to upgrade to SQL Anywhere.
However, the core of Smart Access remains articles on techniques for building applications with Microsoft Access. A great Smart Access article will show you how to use some part of the rich store of Access technology or how to solve thorny problems using Access. I’m always on the lookout for techniques that apply to every version of Access, but we’ve also had articles that showed you how to take advantage of features in specific versions of Access.
But there’s a great big world out there, outside of Access. I think that the next version of SharePoint is going to be an important part of the Microsoft world, and that Access developers will find it as useful as Outlook. So Nikander and Margriet Bruggeman introduced you to it in Smart Access. We’ve also shown you how to use Web Services from Access and kept an eye on Access competitors like StarOffice. Coming up we have an article on using Access with Microsoft Terminal Services. Our goal is not only to help you program better, but to make sure that you know what’s in your environment. You may not need all the detail in these articles, but you’ll understand the issues and—when the time comes—the detail will be waiting for you to use (you do keep your back issues, don’t you?).
My plan for covering the next version of Access is the same plan that we used with Access 2002. Smart Access will feature a series of articles (no more than one per issue) that will discuss, one by one, the new features in Access. You’ll understand how the feature works (if it does), what it does for you, and whether it’s valuable enough for you to consider upgrading. However, the core of Smart Access will remain with the versions of Access that you’re using right now: 95/97, 2000/2002.
Which brings me to the point: How are we doing? Is this a useful mix for you? What do you need to know? These are tough economic times and my goal is to make Smart Access your best friend when working with Access. Let me know what you need: I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Peter Vogel