Using Invisible Forms to Track Users

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Using Invisible Forms to Track Users

Tobi K. Hoffman


Migrating a project into the Citrix platform provided a workable environment for

Tobi Hoffman’s company’s people nationwide to access a single database, yet

presented some unexpected challenges. Since Citrix forces all users into a single

application, keeping track of users’ individual security clearances was almost

impossible—until the application got a form that no one saw.


THE Citrix system provides some special programming challenges. Citrix

allows people to connect to a remote computer and work with the

applications on that computer as if it were an extension of their own

desktop. The users are actually running the application on the Citrix server,

and (here’s the problem) the users are opening multiple instances of the

application—each user gets his own copy of the same EXE, all running on the

remote server. Therefore you break what many of us have learned as a basic

rule of Access development: Don’t have many people using the same front-end

database. The novice Access developer often learns this lesson by putting a

front-end database (with its forms, queries, and reports) on a network server

to be shared by all users, and then wondering why everything runs so slowly.

In a crisis, especially if the database also holds all the tables, forms, queries,

reports, and code, they find that their databases are frequently corrupted.


The lesson is that you should split the database into two parts:

• A compiled (.mde) front end that holds the queries, forms, reports, and

whatever code you need to support your application

• A back end with the tables containing the actual data

Each user gets the front end installed on his or her computer, while the

back-end database is installed on a network server. The tables in the back end ...


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