Trolling for Articles

In May, I was in Europe presenting at the Software Developer’s Group of the Netherlands “Conference to the Max” (and trolling for consulting work). There were a number of Smart Access contributors there, including Stephen Forte and Michael Kaplan. Stephen had already prepared the ADOx article that appears in this month’s issue when he and Michael started discussing the problems with the security aspects of ADOx. From there, they went on to discuss ADO’s problems when working with Jet. Michael felt so strongly about these issues–and has spent so much time with ADO that he knows the problems well–that he offered to write an article that pointed out those problems. I was smart enough to sit there and just keep saying, “Yes.” You’ll find both of these articles in this month’s issue.

While I’m certainly committed both to Microsoft Access and to ADO, it’s also important that this newsletter make clear to you what isn’t so great about these products and what workarounds exist. This newsletter isn’t “authorized” by Microsoft, so we’re free to print any article that’s helpful to our readers. I love Access, but general system theory tells me that any sufficiently complex system will–at any particular time–have some part operating in failure mode. In previous issues you’ve seen articles about the Access combo box bug, Access 95/97’s problems with handling references, and Form/SubForm problems (all articles that Microsoft ended up posting on its MSDN Web site). In Access 2000, I think that the support for SQL Server will eventually turn into a wonderful addition to Access and that Access’s Web support is fundamentally dumb. At Smart Access, my job is to provide you with the articles and information to let you make your own judgments.

More important, at least to me, than telling you about the various Access problems is that you’ve also found articles on how to handle these problems. And even these articles aren’t the most important services that I feel that Smart Access provides. The vast majority of Smart Access articles are designed to make you a more productive programmer by giving you the technical knowledge to manage this enormously powerful tool. Why? Because Access remains the best tool for developing database applications.

While at the conference, I also got a chance to sit down with Whil Hentzen, who edits Pinnacle’s FoxPro newsletter, FoxTalk. Unlike ActiveWeb Developer, I don’t know enough about FoxPro to tell you how good the newsletter is (though if it’s as good as Whil is, that’s very good indeed). After writing five or six books, Whil has started his own publishing company, producing books by all of the FoxPro gurus. The one that I liked was called the The 1999 Software Developer’s Guide. If you’re an independent developer, or thinking about becoming one, I can’t recommend this book enough. Whil understands the difference between cost and price, what marketing really looks like, and knows both how important code reviews are and how difficult they are to implement. The book reflects the practices of his development company and covers everything from marketing to code development. Even if you’re a developer working for a non-software company, you’ll find that that much of this book applies directly to you. You can check out the publishing side of Whil’s business at

Speaking of conferences, the Fall Advisor DevCon is coming up. It’s being held in Phoenix on September 26-29. I’ll be there speaking on relational database design and effective use of SQL. Also present will be Smart Access contributors/editors Ken Getz, Mary Chipman, Andy Baron, and Stephen Forte. Pinnacle will have a booth in the vendor area, and attendees will be getting free copies of our newsletters. I’ll be spending time in the booth, so if you’re attending, please drop around and say hello (or, as we say in Canada, “Hello, eh?”).

On a more personal note, I mentioned in an earlier editorial that I was working on earning an MBA on a part-time basis. For all of the people who asked (both of you), I picked up my diploma on June 4, 1999. And I was pleased as punch.

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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