Plus, Ca Change

THE title for this month’s editorialis appropriate for an issue with a review of a translation package for Access.Translated into proper English, the complete phrase is “The more things change,the more things remain the same.” Or, to put it another way, my mother-in-lawis on the Internet. She’s still my mother-in-law, but now she sends e-mail.Every day.

A couple of different eventsoccasioned the selection for this month’s editorial topic. I’m finally givingup my Geo. I loved that car. Cheap, durable, and 48 miles to the gallon.Sitting in the car with my hat on, my wife says I looked like a Mennonitefarmer on his way to market. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’mconverting over to the retro-styled PT Cruiser from Chrysler-Daimler (anotherexample of everything changing and not). This is an improvement. Sitting in thePT Cruiser with my hat on, Jan says I look like one of Eliot Ness’sUntouchables. In terms of my image as a hotshot software problem-solver, thisis probably progress. I still feel more like the farmer raising my crop ofprojects, though.

The other occasion is the launch ofour new newsletter, aimed at developers who are using XML in their applications(that’s you—if not now, then soon). I’ve been teaching XML for Learning TreeInternational in addition to using XML myself, and that’s given me a chance tosee how much interest there is in the technology. A week from today, I fly toLondon to teach the course, from there go on to Hong Kong to teach it again,and finally (still flying East) return home, having circumnavigated the globe.

One of the things that i’ve come toappreciate about XML is how much of it  isn’t new. An XML document uses the tagformatting that was developed for the Standard Generalized Markup Language usedby document creation companies. All by itself, that technology is aquarter-century old. For me, the process of designing and developing XML-basedprocesses draws a lot on my experience and training as a database developer. I’vealways felt that the skills I developed in database design would stand me ingood stead, and this new tool just confirms that.

Cindy Meister is back with hardcoreinformation on using Microsoft Word as your report writer. Somewhere along theline, the train to the paperless office got derailed, I guess. Cindy’s articlemakes a good companion to Stu Alderman’s article on his tool for documentingAccess tables. Not only does Cindy cover how to do the hard stuff in Word, butshe also provides the routines that you need to produce reports that can bebound like books. You can run off the documentation from Stu’s tool on yourprinter and bind it to ook exactly like “real” documentation.

Having said that, I firmly believethat within five or six years most (if not all) of the Smart Access readerswill be reading this newsletter on some electronic device. Does that mean thatyou won’t need Cindy’s routines anymore? No. By then you’ll be able to use Wordto create e-documents and using “Access-with-Word” to produce output for thosedevices.

One final note on how things change.I use a Palm PDA and just added a package to it called avantgo. I downloadedthe software (for free) from the avantgo.com Web site. Using avantgo, I candownload to my handheld any Web sites that I select. You configure the sitesthat you pick up on the avantgo site, which contains an inventory of alreadyconfigured Web sites.

Among other sites, I’m picking up theprice of Learning Tree International stock (I have options), the weather in thecities I go to most often, headline stories, book reviews, and technology news.While the delivery mechanism for these services has changed from mynewspaper/TV/radio channel, the stuff that I’m looking for remains the same.When you and I go wireless (and we will, someday) I expect to see even morechanges to the way that news and transient entertainment is delivered. If, forinstance, everyone can pick up our Smart Access material at any time, why“publish” monthly? Why not weekly? Daily? As soon as new material is available?A publishing schedule becomes merely a convenient way of notifying readers thatnew articles are ready to view— and I can think of lots better ways to do thatthan living by the calendar.

Until then, I have a deadline to meetand I’m already late. Here’s this month’s issue.

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