On the Road Again

I’m on the road again for much of the time between March and June. There are many reasons for this–visiting clients and teaching for Learning Tree, among other things. But the primary motivation is that these three months constitute the first of the year’s two “conference seasons,” and I’ve been invited to speak at a lot of conferences. The second season runs roughly from the end of September to early November, and I expect to be back on the road then also.

Don’t get me wrong–I like presenting at the conferences. There’s no money in it, but it offers me a lot of benefits. First and foremost, I get to meet people, particularly Smart Access readers. If you’re attending any of the conferences that I’ll be attending, please don’t hesitate to look me up. Tell me what you like about the newsletter, what you don’t like, what I should be doing, and what I should stop doing. It’s very gratifying to hear from people how much they like Smart Access and how they look forward to it every month. But I have to admit that I look forward to hearing from the critics the most, because their feedback gives me a chance to do better next time. Is there a topic that we haven’t covered that we should? Is there some topic that we’ve done quite enough, thank you very much? If you’re not going to the conferences, don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I’m always interested.

These are working trips for Jan, my wife and general manager. That’s another benefit of doing the conferences–Jan and I met while we were working in professional theater, where she was a stage manager and director. Now she sits in on my presentations and goes over them with me afterward, pointing out problem areas, suggesting solutions and improvements, and making me a better presenter (the presentation that I did entirely in pig Latin, for instance, was not the success that I had hoped it would be).

Conferences also provide me with a chance to see a bunch of people that I talk to by e-mail. You’re familiar with a number of them from the pages of Smart Access, including Mary Chipman, Andy Baron, Stephen Forte, Ken Getz, Mike Kaplan, and Paul Litwin, the founding editor of Smart Access. I learn so much from these developers that the conferences are as much a learning experience for me as a teaching one.

If it weren’t for attending the conferences, for instance, I would have made a tremendous mistake in naming my book. I had originally intended to call it a “Developers Handbook.” Ken Getz took the time to point out to me that the phrase “Developers Handbook” is a brand name that he and others have been steadily building up over many years, beginning with the release of the first edition of the Access 2.0 Developers Handbook. I think the infringement I was about to unknowingly perpetrate shows clearly how important Litwin, Getz, et al’s series of books have been to Access developers. The Access Developer Handbooks are simply an essential part of any Access (or VBA) developer’s bookshelf, and I was starting to take them for granted.

And that leads to the reason why I’m attending so many conferences this year. The perceived wisdom is that you can’t make money from writing books without a lot of promotion, so I’m hitting the road to make a set of presentations based on the content of The Visual Basic Object and Component Handbook. That’s not my complete repertoire, though. I’m also presenting on two topics near and dear to my heart as an Access developer: effective SQL and database design.

Do come and say “Hi” to me on my pilgrimage. I’m at the Office Development and Deployment Conference in Phoenix from March 19 to 23, then on to the Adivsor DevCon in La Jolla (near San Diego, they tell me) from April 16 to 19. I’m doing two preconference seminars on Visual InterDev and XML there. Pinnacle is co-sponsoring two conferences that I’ve been invited to: VBConnections in Phoenix from April 30 to May 3 and DevCon 2000 from May 14 to 18. Last year’s DevCon was the conference at which Todd Nielson announced the Access WorkFlow Designer, which we’ll be covering in some upcoming articles. I’m not only a presentor at the last conference, but also one of the keynote speakers. I’ll be talking about the major impact on our development environment that some of the subtler changes in Office and Visual Basic will have. Finally, I’m at the Conference and Expo on Windows NT/Windows 2000 Security and Control in Boston from July 11 to 13.

Posted in Old Material | Leave a comment

Objects for the Database Developer

If you’ve ever felt that object-oriented development is something that Access developers just don’t do–well, you’re wrong. As Peter Vogel points out, Access developers are uniquely qualified to design objects: They have the attitude and they’re already writing the necessary code.

Many Access developers live a long and happy life without ever creating their own objects. While Access developers use objects frequently, they find that they can build perfectly good Access applications without creating classes of their own. This actually makes sense: One of the main reasons people build objects is to hide the database structure from the application that’s accessing it. Of course, Access developers don’t want to hide the database from their application; the ability to bind an Access form to a database item (like a table or a query) is what gives Access its power. Continue reading

Posted in Old Material | Leave a comment

Moving On Up

With the recent flurry of Access 97 articles and editorials you may be wondering, “What does it take to make the move to Access 97?” I have to answer that question with a question: “Where are you coming from?” If you’re upgrading from Access 95, the road to Access 97 is pretty short. Although Microsoft has once again changed the .MDB file format, you should have little problem moving existing Access 95 applications forward. The only new hurdle is that most Access 97 properties are now strongly typed (instead of the variant data type). For example, you’ll have to change any code that sets a caption to Null. Continue reading

Posted in Old Material | Leave a comment

Migrating Access (and Outlook Data) to SQL Server

 It’s an unusual Jet database that will convert smoothly to SQL Server. Rick Dobson shows how to mix your own code with the Upsizing Wizard. But in many cases it’s not just Access data that you need to convert, so he shows how Access can let you move Outlook data into SQL Server.

The main reason that I needed to upgrade to SQL Server was that my database exceeded the Jet size limit for a single database file (2GB–the maximum data file size for a SQL Server 2000 database is 32 terabytes). A secondary objective was to keep all my data in a single file. Even after the migration of the database to SQL Server, because all of my data would be in a single database, I could maintain some of the simplicity and familiarity of an Access solution for Jet by using an Access Data Project. Continue reading

Posted in Old Material | Leave a comment

Managing Margins Of Text Box and Label Controls

This month, Chris Weber talks about four TextBox and label formatting properties that were introduced in Access 2000–and some unexpected side effects of using them.

In Access 2000, the Access development team at Microsoft introduced four new formatting properties for TextBox and label controls. They appear on the Format tab of the property sheet as Left Margin, Top Margin, Right Margin, and Bottom Margin (see Figure 1). These margins are measured in inches and can be used to pad the “whitespace” around your data or caption within the control. This is especially useful for controls that are sunken, raised, or have a solid border. It’s a great idea that can make your form’s data more readable, and result in fewer data entry errors, decreased eyestrain, and greater productivity for your users. However, they can also have some nasty side effects. Continue reading

Posted in Old Material | Leave a comment