Knowledge is Power

I get a kick out of going to conferences. It’s a lotof money out of pocket, and, as a consultant, it’s a whole bunch of days withno cash coming in. But if I’m going to stay current in the information servicesbusiness, I can’t afford to stop learning.

I recently got invited to give a presentation onknowledgebases at a conference in Disneyworld. The knowledgebase field is agrowing one, and this will be a wonderful opportunity for me to learn some moreabout it. I have to admit to feeling a lot of sympathy for the developersworking in this area. Microsoft Access is a database, and I think we all have apretty clear idea of what data is and how to manage it. Thanks to Dr. Codd, thefather of relational database theory, we even have some pretty definite ruleson how to organize and structure our data. It’s not clear to me thatknowledgebase development is nearly so well-defined.

I probably learn as much standing at the front of the roompresenting as I do sitting in the audience listening. I always think of WillRogers’ statement: “It’s not what you don’t know that will get you introuble. It’s what you don’t know that you don’t know.” When I have to gointo a topic thoroughly in order to talk about it, I’m always surprised to findwhat i’ve taken for granted or only understood superficially. After apresentation, I inevitably end up in a series of discussions that begin with”Did you know . . .”. And, often, I didn’t know.

One of the things i’ve learned is that the technical problemsI have working with Access are far simpler than the problems I have managingsuccessful projects. There just doesn’t seem to be a user manual for corporatelife. In this issue, Mike Gunderloy discusses requirements planning for Accessdevelopers. Mike is very definitely a “been there, done that” kind ofguy with extensive real-world experience in building Access applications. Inthis article, he delves into one of those non-technical aspects of an Accessproject that’s essential to its success. Mike identifies just about everythingimportant in that area, from the politics of requirements analysis to theimportance of wide margins. I was really struck by his quote from Steve mcconnellon satisfying your customers. If you find Mike’s article interesting, let merecommend the book Exploring Requirements: Quality Before Design by one of thetrue geniuses in this business, Gerry Wienburg (he wrote the classic book ThePsychology of Computer Programming).

On another front, for this month’s “Access Answers”column, we’ve gathered together a bunch of the wizards who’ve been contributingsolutions on the Access usegroups. These people have provided so much knowledgeso often that Microsoft has recognized them with the designation of MVP. Thesegurus have helped hundreds of people, and this is our opportunity to give thema little well-deserved recognition. To paraphrase Winston Churchill,”Never in the field of Access endeavors have so few given so muchknowledge to so many so often.”

Finally, i’ve always believed that the really knowledgeableperson doesn’t actually know everything. The really knowledgeable person knowswhere to look up everything. This month, we start our search for the bestAccess resources on the Internet (see “The Best of the Net” fordetails). With your help, and the help of our judges, we’ll give you a completeguide to Access information on the Internet. You can even win yourself a freesubscription to Smart Access.

Knowledge is power. Think of Smart Access as your Accessknowledgebase, delivered to your door every month.

About Peter Vogel

After 10 years of editing Smart Access, Peter continues to develop with Access (though he also does a lot of .NET stuff). Peter is also still editing other people's article--he even self-published a book on writing user manuals ("rtfm*") with a blog here.
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