So, Here’s My Plan

LIFE keeps getting more complicated for the editor ofa Microsoft newsletter. To begin with, there’s my obligation to meet the needsof a diverse group ofAccess developers (intermediate to advanced, lonedevelopers, members of a programming team, consultants, and corporatedevelopers). Then there’s the issue of supporting the two to four differentversions of Access (95/97, 2000/2002)—with a new version on the way. While manydevelopers are very happy with Jet/ MDB development, others have moved on toclient/ server development using SQL Server/MSDE or other database managementsystems (say, Oracle). On top of that there’s the variety of packages thatAccess developers may want to integrate with: Outlook, Microsoft Office, VisualBasic, .NET Framework, among other third- arty packages. Finally, of course,there’s always the Web (I shouldn’t say finally—there’s probably lots of otherthings 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 aproblem, move on. But I like the challenge. As you’ve probably noticed, SmartAccess is trying to meet all of those needs.

For instance, in the long run, there’s probably aclient/server database in your future. So we’ve been running articles aimed atJet/MDB developers who want to learn what they’ll need to build client/serverapplications within the Access environment. Russell Sinclair has been helmingthat effort most recently. For instance, one of the major limitations of AccessData Projects is the absence of tools to manage SQL Server. Last month Russellfilled that gap (at least as far as managing security) with an Access add-in.

For a number of years we’ve helped you withunderstanding SQL with the “Working SQL” column. This month, Russell starts anew series to give Access developers the same depth of understanding with SQLServer’s programming language native to SQL Server: T-SQL. Russell approachesthis topic from the point of view of an Access developer rather than a SQLServer developer.

For most of the past year Danny Lesandrini has beenrunning our reviewer’s corner, introducing you to new products that will makeyou more productive as a developer. For those of us who thought that the worldof 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 whoare considering client/server development and find the MSDE inadequate, Dannyeven got Smart Access readers a special deal to upgrade to SQL Anywhere.

However, the core of Smart Access remains articles ontechniques for building applications with Microsoft Access. A great SmartAccess article will show you how to use some part of the rich store of Accesstechnology or how to solve thorny problems using Access. I’m always on thelookout for techniques that apply to every version of Access, but we’ve alsohad articles that showed you how to take advantage of features in specificversions of Access.

But there’s a great big world out there, outside ofAccess. I think that the next version of SharePoint is going to be an importantpart of the Microsoft world, and that Access developers will find it as usefulas Outlook. So Nikander and Margriet Bruggeman introduced you to it in SmartAccess. We’ve also shown you how to use Web Services from Access and kept aneye on Access competitors like StarOffice. Coming up we have an article onusing Access with Microsoft Terminal Services. Our goal is not only to help youprogram better, but to make sure that you know what’s in your environment. Youmay not need all the detail in these articles, but you’ll understand the issuesand—when the time comes—the detail will be waiting for you to use (you do keepyour back issues, don’t you?).

My plan for covering the next version of Access is thesame plan that we used with Access 2002. Smart Access will feature a series ofarticles (no more than one per issue) that will discuss, one by one, the newfeatures in Access. You’ll understand how the feature works (if it does), whatit does for you, and whether it’s valuable enough for you to considerupgrading. However, the core of Smart Access will remain with the versions ofAccess that you’re using right now: 95/97, 2000/2002.

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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