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The big day is Monday. The day you get to show off what you know about Access 2003 programming. The problem is, you're not really up to speed. Maybe it's been a while since you've done Access programming. Perhaps you're not acquainted with all the new tools that Access 2003 provides. Or maybe you just like a challenge. In any event, we've got a solution for you - Access 2003 Programming Weekend Crash Course. Open the ...
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The big day is Monday. The day you get to show off what you know about Access 2003 programming. The problem is, you're not really up to speed. Maybe it's been a while since you've done Access programming. Perhaps you're not acquainted with all the new tools that Access 2003 provides. Or maybe you just like a challenge. In any event, we've got a solution for you - Access 2003 Programming Weekend Crash Course. Open the book Friday evening, and on Sunday afternoon - after completing 30 fast, focused sessions - you'll be able to dive right in and start creating sophisticated, data-driven solutions with Access 2003. It's as simple as that.
Evening: 4 Sessions, 2 Hours
* Introduction to Access and Programming
* From Macros to Modules
* Design, Testing, and Debugging
* Events - A Place to Run Your Code
Morning: 6 Sessions, 3 Hours
* Variables and Naming Conventions
* Loops, Decisions, and Quick Exits
* Procedures, Modules, and Class Modules
* Access Architecture Working with Data Programmatically
* Adding, Updating, and Deleting Records Using ADO
Afternoon: 6 Sessions, 3 Hours
* Switchboards, Custom Menus, and Keyboard Events
* Using Unbound Forms
* Programming Check Box, Option Group, Combo, and List Box Controls
* Subforms and Continuous Forms
* Programming Tabbed Controls
* Message Boxes and Error Handling
Evening: 4 Sessions, 2 Hours
* Importing and Exporting Data
* Improving the Speed of an Application
* Creating Animated Splash Screens, About Boxes, and Startup Screens
* Creating Help Systems
Morning: 6 Sessions, 3 Hours
* Creating Search Dialog Box Forms
* Dialog Boxes, Reports, and ActiveX Controls
* Application Architecture
* Packaging Your Application
* Programming Wizard-Type Forms
* Using Add-Ins
Afternoon: 4 Sessions, 2 Hours
* Programming File Attachments
* Securing Access Databases
* Access and Client Server Data
* Creating SQL Server Queries
Part I—Friday Evening.
Session 1–Introduction to Microsoft Access and Programming.
Session 2–From Macros to Modules.
Session 3–System and Process Design, Testing, and Debugging.
Session 4–Events—A Place to Run Your Code.
Part II—Saturday Morning.
Session 5–Declaring and Understanding Variables and Using Naming Conventions.
Session 6–Logical Constructs—Loops, Decisions, Choices, and Quick Exits.
Session 7–Procedures, Modules, and Class Modules.
Session 8–Access Architecture.
Session 9–Working with Data Programmatically.
Session 10–Adding, Updating, and Deleting Records Using ADO.
Part III—Saturday Afternoon.
Session 11–Navigating an Application Using Switchboards, Custom Menus, and Keyboard Events.
Session 12–Using Unbound Forms.
Session 13–Programming Check Box, Option Group, Combo, and List Box Controls.
Session 14–Programming Subforms and Continuous Forms.
Session 15–Programming Tabbed Controls.
Session 16–Message Boxes and Error-Handling Programs and Techniques.
Part IV—Saturday Evening.
Session 17–Importing and Exporting Data.
Session 18–Techniques to Improve the Speed of an Application.
Session 19–Creating Animated Splash Screens, About Boxes, and Startup Screens.
Session 20–Creating Help Systems.
Part V—Sunday Morning.
Session 21–Creating Search Dialog Box Forms.
Session 22–Programming Dialog Boxes and Reports and Working with ActiveX Controls.
Session 23–Application Architecture.
Session 24–Packaging Your Application.
Session 25–Programming Wizard-Type Forms for Easier Processing.
Session 26–Using Add-Ins with Your Application.
Part VI—Sunday Afternoon.
Session 27–Programming and Using File Attachments.
Session 28–Securing Access Databases.
Session 29–Access and Client Server Data.
Session 30–Creating SQL Server Queries.
Appendix–Answers to Part Reviews.
Microsoft Access is an outstanding environment for both database users and professional developers. In this session, you learn the difference between programming with the Visual Basic language and using Microsoft Access tables, queries, forms, and reports. You also learn how professional developers use Microsoft Access to create applications, and you are introduced to the Check Writer application example used throughout this book.
In order to get the most from this book, you should be familiar with most of the Microsoft Access objects-including tables, queries, forms, and reports. You should also know the basic concepts of building tables and creating relationships. If you have never created a Microsoft Access form, this book is probably not for you. All the examples start from forms that have been created and explain how to add functions and procedures using Visual Basic,the internal language of Access.
If you have created simple or complex macros, you already understand the basics of events and programming. This book does not teach macros because professional developers use macros only on rare occasions. For example, macros are used for creating certain types of menus or for avoiding .mda library-referencing problems, which cause compile errors when the libraries are not connected. This book does explain how to convert your macros to modules and thoroughly covers event-driven programming, which is used in Microsoft Access applications.
What Is Programming?
Programming is the name given to the process of creating instructions to accomplish a task. This is just one of the many phases of development. Microsoft Access contains a set of tools, one of which is called a language. Just as you build words, sentences, and thoughts when you speak or write using human language, you use the programming language to create the program. The language consists of a series of commands that tells the computer how to accomplish the task at hand. Computer programming languages have rules and grammar just like spoken languages.
Tip Computer grammar is called syntax.
Programming can be defined in many ways, but usually words such as logic, structure, commands, sequence, and order are part of the definition. Professional programmers today generally prefer to be called developers. A developer is a person who creates computer applications. Traditional programming is not a necessary element. Creating a form using Microsoft Access can be considered development. When an error message or process is added to the form with a macro or language element, that is also programming. Programming is only one element of development. Analysis, design, testing, and debugging are other key elements of application development.
Microsoft Access contains a variety of tools that enable you to build applications without using the built-in language. These include queries, forms, and reports. Microsoft Access is known as a database management package because it gives you the ability to create tables that hold data. If you have created macros using Microsoft Access, you have already programmed, whether you know it or not.
Visual Basic is the language that is used internally with Microsoft Access. It is also called VBA or Visual Basic for Applications, Visual Basic-Applications Edition, and the Visual Basic language. It was called Access Basic in the first versions of Microsoft Access. Whatever you call it, the Visual Basic language is an integral part of Microsoft Access. For the purposes of this book, the Microsoft Access programming language is referred to simply as Visual Basic.
Why Use the Visual Basic Language?
Although Microsoft Access allows you to create process-oriented programs using macros, it is the language that gives you unlimited flexibility. Many Microsoft Access programmers started with macros and eventually realized their limitations. Eventually, you will find that to meet all your needs in Access, you need to program using the Visual Basic language.
There are many things that macros cannot do. Macros cannot
* Create error trapping routines and run a process based on the error
* Use repetitive looping or incrementing of variables
* Perform complex decision making
* Replace runtime parameters to change form display
Tip Don't confuse the Visual Basic language within Microsoft Access with the product Microsoft sells called Visual Basic or Visual Basic .NET. Although Visual Basic (the product) and Microsoft Access share the common Visual Basic language, the products themselves are very different. All Microsoft Office products contain roughly the same Visual Basic programming language. These products include Access, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and even MapPoint.
Programming for the Contemporary Developer
If you are fairly new to Microsoft Access and have been a programmer for several decades, you may be wondering, "Why program at all?" You may have already discovered the incredible power of tables, queries, forms, and reports. You may have created fairly complex forms including combo boxes, option groups, ActiveX Objects, and the like, which provide more power than many programs you used just 10 years ago. You also may be very comfortable using macros.
If you have already been programming in languages such as COBOL or dBASE, you may be looking for the window that lets you type in commands so that you can start programming. Although there is such a screen in Microsoft Access, you don't use the Visual Basic Editor window to write a program (as you might have back in the '80s). In the early days of personal computers, you started with a blank screen and an editor similar to a simple word processor. You wrote line after line of computer language code to do such mundane things as
Draw a rectangle @12,15 To 25,40 Display a text label @13,17 SAY "Customer Name:" Allow the user to enter data @13,31 GET CUSTNAME
In those days, you had to worry about where the cursor was and where it was going. Today's visual tools, such as the Form Design window, make it easy to build forms without ever entering a line of computer code. In fact, using Microsoft Access, you can build fairly sophisticated applications without ever writing a single line of Visual Basic code. You could easily spend a day creating the program for a simple form in dBASE II. In Microsoft Access, you can create the same form with a wizard in a couple of minutes or from the Form Design screen in half an hour.
Microsoft Access uses an event-driven visual programming environment. This means that, generally, you create a form to display something and then, in the Design view of the form, you use the events of the form - the form's controls, mouse movements, or keyboard keypresses - to add programmed instructions that go beyond just simple form display and data editing. It is a visual environment because you see the user interface at all times. Additionally, as you will learn in the next session, you can view the results of your work nearly instantaneously with only a few mouse clicks. If you are used to the mainframe world, you know the pain of compiling and linking.
An event is just that-an event. Examples include a form being opened, a user placing the cursor in a field on a form, a data value being changed, your mouse moving to a specific control, or more than 50 other distinct occurrences for which you can write Visual Basic code. You can also write Visual Basic code for many other things that happen to forms and reports: printing reports, trapping for potential errors, and even checking the passage of time and performing some task after a certain number of seconds. Each of these events serves as a trigger for code to be run (or executed, as it is also called in programming vernacular). Figure 1-1 shows some of the events that are behind a form and a Visual Basic window where a simple program has been created to check the value of text box entry and to display an error message if it is null.
Database Programming Is Incredibly Flexible
A number of popular software products today include or are built primarily around programming languages. Some of these are .NET, C++, Java, Visual FoxPro, Delphi, Visual Basic, Microsoft Access, and Microsoft Excel. Many more products from small companies with smaller followings are also available, but Microsoft Access is one of the most flexible because it is built around a database management system. Database management systems include the capability to build tables and relationships and to store data.
Microsoft Access is a multidimensional product because it also includes an easy-to-use but powerful set of form and report tools. Its Visual Basic language capability allows the automation or addition of extensions to your simple forms and reports, making them incredibly powerful.
Microsoft Access comes with a back-end database management system, which means it has two different data engines to manage data. The first engine is known as Jet. You may not be aware of this engine because Jet is built into Microsoft Access. Each time you create a new database, design a table, or write a query, you are using the Jet database engine. The second engine is a smaller version of SQL Server 2000 called the Microsoft Database Engine.
Note The Microsoft Database Engine is also known as MSDE and has to be installed separately. You can find it in a separate directory on your Office 2003 installation CD.
If you create professional Microsoft Access applications using the Jet engine, you should always create two separate .mdb database files. One database file contains just your tables, whereas the other contains links to those tables, along with your queries, forms, reports, and module code. This technique is known as file/server computing because you have a program file and a data file. You may have heard it referred to as client/server computing, but the Jet database engine is not a true client/server database engine. Instead, it is a file/server database engine.
Real client-server database engines such as SQL Server or Oracle actually do all their processing on the database server hardware and minimize data sent across the network. Although Microsoft Access uses Jet as a database manager, all processing is done on the client workstation each time the entire data table is sent across the network. The optimum solution for large database applications is to use Microsoft Access as the front-end and to use SQL Server or Oracle as the back end.
Although SQL Server and Oracle are also very powerful database managers, they do not include a set of integrated tools and have no specific programming language. In fact, SQL Server uses Visual Basic to handle its own internal event model known as triggers and stored procedures. Triggers are events that respond to a change in a data value. This change triggers (or starts) a block of code known as a stored procedure (so named because it is also stored in the data table).
Microsoft Access 2003 contains a client-server database model called projects and uses the file extension .adp. This built-in client/server model uses the personal desktop version of SQL Server known as the Microsoft Database Engine (MSDE). You can create applications that work with MSDE instead of Jet and then use the more powerful SQL Server when you are ready.
Using the Check Writer Example Database
Included on the companion Web site for this book are sample files that we refer to in various sessions throughout the book. Many more free software samples and demo versions of business systems and third-party tools are available from leading Microsoft Access add-on vendors.
The example used in this book is a fairly simple application that is representative of the types of applications you can develop with Microsoft Access. The example is a working check writer, which is an electronic version of the checkbook you probably use all the time. The example is written in Microsoft Access and programmed with the latest version of Access 2003, Visual Basic, and the internal data access language ADO.
You will use these two files:
CheckWriter.mdb The program file, including Queries, Forms, Reports, and Modules
CheckWriterData.mdb The data file, containing only the tables used in the example
If you have never worked with linked databases, this is a great time to start.
Tip Professional Microsoft Access application developers always keep the program and data in two separate database files. That way, if the programs or design objects (forms, reports, and so on) require changes, the developer can replace the customer's program file without disturbing the data files.
The sessions in this book use various parts of the Check Writer example to show you how to build any professional application. The application is constructed specifically to demonstrate what you must know to be successful in application development, including Visual Basic programming, data design, and forms and report creation.
Using the Check Writer main menu
When you first open the Check Writer application, you see the main menu shown in Figure 1-2. The main menu consists of a few simple buttons and some graphics. When you click a button, that function runs.
You can choose from the following functions on the main menu:
Check Writer/Register A tabbed dialog where you can add, edit, delete, or display checks, deposits, adjustments, and a visual check register.
Bank Accounts A data entry form to enter bank account information for your accounts.
Check Reconciliation A complete electronic check reconciliation screen to help you balance your checkbook.
New Bank Account Wizard A wizard form to create a new bank account and set up the starting balance.
Excerpted from Access 2003 Programming Weekend Crash Course by Cary N. Prague Jennifer Reardon Lawrence S. Kasevich Diana Reid Phuc V. Phan Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted October 3, 2004
The authors set themselves an ambitious remit. Can they actually teach you Access in 15 hours? They motivate this with a scenario of a weekend in which you have to learn, starting on Friday night, and going to Sunday afternoon. The time is divided into 6 parts, one on Friday, 3 on Saturday, 2 on Sunday. Each part has several sessions (=lessons) of half an hour each. A novel approach, at least to me. Somewhat of a role-playing setup. Each session goes over some straightforward coding. There is a back and forth between the widget forms, which often show tabular data, and the procedures that make these forms, or analyse input from them. The pace is rather hurried. And you don't really get into the SQL itself. But, by and large, you may be able to get a basic operational familiarity with Access if you stay the course. The problem is that some lessons may well take more than half an hour. If you find yourself doing this, don't worry. You're not a retard! Just take as much time as you need to understand the material. I think the authors are overly optimistic about the alloted time for some sessions. Yes, you can force yourself to commit only 30 minutes to each. But at what cost in comprehension? More to the point, you presumably want to build on what you learn here. A shaky foundation may not help. So take your time. The book could be improved if the authors dispense with the artifice of the 15 hours total. Cute gimmick. But it wears thin, and actually interfere with the book's efficacy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.