Intranet and Web Databases for Dummies

Overview

Intranet is not simply the latest buzzword. In particular, an intranet database can connect the people in your organization to all the information they need in order to do their jobs effectively. Now, thanks to Intranet & Web Databases For Dummies, you'll understand all that's involved in setting up your own database for access by people within your organization or for access by anyone anywhere via the World Wide Web.

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Overview

Intranet is not simply the latest buzzword. In particular, an intranet database can connect the people in your organization to all the information they need in order to do their jobs effectively. Now, thanks to Intranet & Web Databases For Dummies, you'll understand all that's involved in setting up your own database for access by people within your organization or for access by anyone anywhere via the World Wide Web.

In Intranet & Web Databases For Dummies, programming wizard Paul Litwin introduces you to the concepts behind intranet and Web databases -- and then gets right into the nuts and bolts of setting up your own database. He shows you how to use powerful but easy-to-use software (such as Microsoft Access, SQL Server, Visual InterDev, Internet Information Server, the Internet Database Connector, and Active Server Pages) to make your internal and external Web pages useful and full of accurate, timely information.

Plus, on the bonus CD-ROM accompanying Intranet & Web Databases For Dummies, you get valuable software and other resources, including

  • A complete, sample Access database referred to throughout the book
  • A sample SQL Server database, so that you can begin to see what's possible with Standard Query Language and relational databases
  • Sample IDC files for retrieving data from the sample Access and SQL databases
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764502217
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/28/1997
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 7.43 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction

About This Book
Conventions Used in This Book
Foolish Assumptions
How This Book Is Organized
Part I: Building Better Intranets and Web Sites
Part II: And You Thought Web Publishing Was Hard
Part III: What About SQL Server Data?
Part IV: Getting Dynamic with the Internet Database Connector
Part V: The Future Is Here: Active Server Pages
Part VI: Coding Active Server Pages
Part VII: A Virtual Web Publishing Studio: Visual InterDev
Part VIII: The Part of Tens
Icons Used in this Book
What's On the CD?
Where to Go from Here

Part I: Building Better Intranets and Web Sites

Chapter 1: Clients, Servers, and Browsers in All Their Glory
How the Web Works
Terminology Primer
How the parts work together
Static versus Dynamic Web Pages
Static content
Dynamic content
Server-side extensions
Client-side extensions
Chapter 2: Setting Up Your Microsoft Web Server
Choosing a Microsoft Web Server
Why are Microsoft Web servers different?
So many servers, so little time
Which one is right for me?
How about the Web server version?
What about Microsoft Commerce Server?
Implementing Your Microsoft Web Server
Acquiring Microsoft Web servers
Installing Microsoft Web servers
Setting up virtual directories
Setting permissions
Other Web Servers
IIS-compatible servers
Noncompatible servers

Part II: And You Thought Web Publishing Was Hard

Chapter 3: A Wizard after Your Own Heart
Creating Your Web Page
Testing Your Page
One more thing...
Preview time
Digging into the Static HTML Pages Produced by the Wizard
Viewing the source
Modifying the HTML
Viewing your changes
Chapter 4: Spiffing Up Your Pages
What Other Kinds of Objects Can I Publish?
Publishing Access Reports
Running the wizard
Time to take a look
What the wizard publishes
What the wizard doesn't publish
Publishing a Multipage Access Report
No template
Using a custom template
Creating Custom Templates
Anatomy of a template
Not just for reports
Chapter 5: Posting and Republishing Pages
Integrating Your Pages into Your Web Site
The Postman Always Rings Twice
When the server's just around the corner
When the server's across town
Using the Web Publishing Wizard
Posting Web pages to a server for the first time
Republishing to a Web server using the wizard
Don't Reinvent: Use Publication Profiles
Creating a publication profile
Recalling a publication profile
Sloughing Off with VBA
Using frmPublish
frmPublish Uncovered
A possible hitch
Like Clockwork
The timer event
An example

Part III: What about SQL Server Data?

Chapter 6: A Wizard That Speaks SQL
The Server Advantage
Getting Started
Query Options
A page with a view
Free-form like a bird
Stored procedure, anyone?
Chapter 7: Keeping Your Pages Fresh
Scheduling Options
You can pay me now or pay me later
Ch-ch-changes
Like clockwork
Which option is best?
Using a Template
URLs Are Us
How Does It Work?
Is That All There Is to the Assistant?

Part IV: Getting Dynamic with the Internet Database Connector

Chapter 8: Generating Dynamic Web Pages with the Access Wizard
Publishing to the IDC Format
How you publish
What you get
Making the IDC files work
Copying the files to your server
Creating the ODBC data source
Previewing the results
The results of the IDC query
My users won't type that!
What Else Can You Publish?
Publishing Parameter Queries
Chapter 9: Exploring the Innards of IDC
How the IDC Works
The IDC file
The HTX file
Beyond Read-Only Queries
The AddCustomer.HTML file
The AddCustomer.IDC file
The AddCustomer.HTX file
Testing the example
Troubleshooting errors
Making the IDC Dance
Limiting the records
The IDC and \delimiters
Wildcard characters
Formatting
Filling lists
Displaying parameter values
How IDC Stacks Up against the Alternatives

Part V: The Future Is Here: Active Server Pages

Chapter 10: Creating Hyperactive Datasheets
What Can You Publish to the ASP Format?
What's Required to Publish to the ASP Format?
Publishing a Table or Query to ASP
The Wizard Output
Post-Wizard Housekeeping
Using the ASP Page
On an intranet server
On an Internet server
What you get
Publishing Parameter Queries to ASP
Preparing the query
Publishing the query
The resulting files
Linking to the parameter query page
Is That All There Is to Publishing to the ASP Format?
Chapter 11: Publishing Radioactive Forms
Publishing an Access Form
The Published ASP Files
Post-Wizard Housekeeping
Previewing the Results
Publishing a Form with an Embedded Subform
Using the Published Forms
Publishing Better Forms
What's published and what's not?
Form-publishing tips
How Wizard-Generated Pages Stack Up Against the Alternatives

Part VI: Coding Active Server Pages

Chapter 12: Delving into Active Server Pages
What Exactly Is an Active Server Page?
Starting Simple
Conditional processing
Creating procedures
Exploring VBScript
What About JavaScript?
One page at a time
A scripted page
Once and for all
Is That All There Is?
Chapter 13: Activating Your Pages with ADO
What's ActiveX Data Objects?
The ADO Object Model
Accessing Data Using ADO
Pure HTML
Declaring variables
Creating the recordset object
Displaying the data
Clean-up time
Flattening the Object Model
Recordset options galore
Source
ActiveConnection
CursorType
LockType
Options
Constants -- what constants?
Another recordset example
Declaring variables and constants
Opening a connection
Creating the recordset
What if the recordset doesn't contain any records?
Displaying the table
Updating Data
Adding records to a recordset
What about handling errors?
VBScript error handling
The ADO errors collection
Which one should I use?
An error-handling example
Updating a record in a recordset
Update.asp
UpdRec.asp
UpdAct.asp
Deleting a record from a recordset
Executing Queries and Stored Procedures
A stored procedure example
An action query example

Part VII: A Virtual Web Publishing Studio: Visual InterDev

Chapter 14: Are You Ready for Visual InterDev?
Why Visual InterDev?
The Visual InterDev Way
Webs
Projects
Workspaces
A Product with More Than One View
The Wonderful World of InfoView
Drilling down to a page
Searching the InfoView system
Creating a Web Project
Creating Pages
Creating a new HTML page
Editing your page
Choosing the right editor
Creating a new ASP page
Importing existing files
Previewing Your Pages
Using the built-in InfoViewer browser
Using another browser
Working with Working Copies
Chapter 15: Discovering the Data Form Wizard
The Visual InterDev Data Form Wizard
Running the Wizard
Using the Data Form
Form View
Updating records
Inserting records
Deleting records
Filtering records
List View
Advanced Wizard Features
Custom labels
Lookup fields
Image and URL fields
Chapter 16: Designing with Designer Controls
What's a Designer Control?
Why use designer controls?
How do designer controls differ from wizards?
Using the Data Range Controls
Creating the data connection
Creating an HTML table with the Data Range controls
Creating an HTML form with the Data Range controls
Using the SQL Query Designer
Starting the SQL Query Designer
Exploring the SQL Query Designer
Creating an ad-hoc query
Returning to the Properties window
What else can you do?
Using the Data Command Control
Creating a delete query with a parameter
Passing the parameter to the script
Using the Include Control
Editing the Scripts Produced by Designer Controls
Chapter 17: Scripting Active Server Objects
What's an Active Server Object?
Managing State with the Session Object
What defines a session?
How and when does the Session object work?
What happens when the browser doesn't support cookies?
Saving session data
What about Global.asa?
Session events
A session event procedure example
Global.asa and data connections
Sharing across Sessions with the Application Object
Application events
Creating a hit counter
Writing Values with the Response Object
Writing text
Saving cookies
Redirecting Johnny through the front door
Reading Values with the Request Object
Retrieving form fields
Reading cookies
Checking whether cookies are enabled
Grabbing data from the Query string
Server variable anyone?
Extending ASP with the Server Object
A MapPathing example
Encoding we will go
Using components
Creating your own components
Is That All There Is to Visual InterDev?

Part VIII: The Part of Tens

Chapter 18: Ten Things to Consider When Choosing Web Publishing Software
Which Web Server Are You Running?
Will Your Site Be on an Intranet or Internet?
What Sort of Traffic Are You Expecting?
Where's the Data?
How Much Time and Money Do You Have?
How Dynamic Do You Need the Data?
What's the Difference Between CGI, IDC, and ASP?
What Other Solutions Are Out There?
What About FrontPage?
What Do I Use to Process Credit-Card Transactions?
Chapter 19: Ten Things That Can Go Wrong with Dynamic Web Publishing and How to Fix Them
Why Do I See My ASP Script in the Browser?
Why Can't I Get My IDC or ASP Page to Come Up?
Why Do I Get "Access Forbidden" or "HTTP/1.0 501 Not Supported" Errors?
Why Did All My ASP Files Suddenly Stop Working?
It Works Great On My Development Machine, But...
I Keep Getting an Illegal Name Error When Accessing SQL Server Data
How Do I Format a Field Using IDC?
Why Don't My Access Wizard-Published Parameter Query Pages Work?
Why Do I See a Blank Page in the Browser?
Why Don't My Access Forms Containing Subforms Work?
Chapter 20: Ten Common Questions about Visual InterDev
Why Should I Buy Visual InterDev?
What's the Difference Between a Project and a Workspace?
What the Heck Is this Default.asa File?
Should I Create a Data Connection or a Database Project?
How Do I Get Visual Database Tools to Process My Database Schema Changes?
Why Don't the Data Range Controls Display Anything When I Browse the Page?
How Do I Use JavaScript in My ASP Files?
How Do I Check My Links?
Which Editor Should I Use: FrontPage or Source Editor?
How Do I Visually Lay Out an HTML Table, Form, or Frame?

Appendix: About the CD

System Requirements
How to Use the CD
What You Find on the CD
Sample Access database
Sample SQL Server database
Sample IDC files
Sample ASP files
Sample ADO files
Sample Active Server object files
Access Upsizing Tools
Internet Explorer 4.0
Job Forum sample application
Microsoft Office 97 viewers
System DSN tester
WinZip
If You Have Problems (Of the CD Kind)

Index

IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., End-User License Agreement

Installation Instructions

Book Registration Information

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter 11
Publishing Radioactive Forms

In This Chapter

  • Publishing Access forms to the Access wizard
  • Linking to the published forms
  • Publishing forms with embedded subforms
  • Understanding which parts of the form are actually published

The real advantage to using the Access Publish to the Web Wizard to publish to the Active Server Pages (ASP) format is apparent when you publish forms. When you publish a form using the ASP format, the wizard generates an ASP page that looks and acts like an Access form. You can use the ASP page to view and update records in the Access database.

This chapter explores the publishing of Access forms to the ASP format and takes a look at the pluses and minuses of the Access-generated ASP pages.

Publishing an Access Form

Publishing an Access form to the ASP format is very similar to publishing a table or query to the ASP format, which I cover in Chapter 10.

Before you start publishing your Access forms to the ASP format, you need to have a few things in place:

  • You must be using a Microsoft Web server with Active Server Pages installed.
  • You must have a Web directory setup to hold your ASP files. Assign both Read and Script access rights (or Read and Execute rights for earlier versions of Microsoft Web servers) to this Web directory by using the Internet Service Manager program.

Chapter 2 has more details on obtaining and configuring Microsoft Web servers and creating Web directories. I also discuss configuring your Web server for Active Server Pages in Chapter 10.

Following is a brief look at how to publish a form:

  1. Open an Access database, start the Access Publish to the Web Wizard, and click Next until you reach the fourth wizard page.
  2. Select the form or forms you want to publish on the second wizard page.
  3. Select the Dynamic ASP (Microsoft Active Server Pages) publishing option on the fourth wizard page, as shown in Figure 11-1, and click Next.
  4. On the fifth page, type the data source name and other optional fields.

    If the form you're publishing contains a subform, tab to the Server URL text box. Type the URL address of the virtual Web directory where the ASP files will be hosted. This address points to the virtual Web directory where you store the files, not the actual files (see Figure 11-2).

    For example, if your Web server is accessible across an intranet, then type an address using the following syntax:

    http://server_name/virtual_directory/

    If you connect to the Web server across the Internet, then enter an address using the following syntax:

    http://www.site_name/virtual_directory/

    If the form doesn't contain a subform, you can leave the Server URL text box blank (see Figure 11-3). Entering an address doesn't do any harm, but getting an address wrong is easy. You may as well leave the text box blank. In addition, if you decide later to move the files to a different Web directory, the form won't work if you've entered a server URL here.

  5. Click Finish to generate the pages and quit the wizard.

    Enter whatever you want on the remaining wizard pages before clicking Finish.

The Published ASP Files

When you use the Publish to the Web Wizard to publish an Access form, you end up with at least two files -- perhaps three, if you publish a form with an embedded subform. The files generated by the wizard are

  • form_1.asp: This is the main ASP file, the one you link to. The file grabs the data displayed on the form and inserts an HTML Layout control into the Web page.
  • form_1alx.asp: This ASP file creates the form displayed by the HTML Layout control.
  • subform.asp: This file is created by the wizard only if the published Access form contains a subform. If so, then this file is responsible for grabbing the data for the subform and displaying it in the HTML Layout control.

For example, if you publish a form (with no subform) named frmMenuItems, the wizard generates the following files:


frmMenuItems_1.asp 
frmMenuItems_1alx.asp

If you publish a form named frmOrders that contains an embedded subform named frmOrderItemsSub, you get the following files:


frmOrders_1.asp 
frmOrders_1alx.asp
frmOrderItemsSub.asp

Post-Wizard Housekeeping

Before you can use your ASP files, you must perform three additional steps. These steps are identical to what you need to do when publishing a table or query to the ASP format:

  1. Copy the ASP files to the server.
  2. Copy or move the Access database to the server.
  3. Create an ODBC System data source to link the ASP page to the database.

Chapter 10 gives you all the details on these steps.

Previewing the Results

To view the wizard-published forms, you need to link to the main ASP page. But first, there's a catch.

The ASP files that the Access wizard generates differ in one important way from all the other Web pages that the wizard generates: You can view the ASP files only by using Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 3.0 or later. You need Internet Explorer because the wizard-generated ASP files send VBScript code that uses the HTML Layout control to the Web client.

The wizard uses the HTML Layout control to allow precise two-dimensional positioning of items on the page. This control runs only in browsers that support ActiveX controls, which, for now at least, means that you can view the wizard-published forms by using only Internet Explorer Version 3.0 or later.

As is the case in Chapter 10, the exact URL you link to varies, depending on if the Web server is on an intranet or the Internet.

If your Web server is accessible across an intranet, then you link to the ASP page using the following syntax:

http://server_name/virtual_directory/form_1.asp

where server_name is the machine name of the Web server, virtual_directory is the Web folder that hosts the Web page, and form_1.asp is the name of the ASP page generated by the Access wizard.

For example, if your server name is catfish and the published ASP file is frmEmployees_1.asp and located in the Web_Meals directory, you enter the following URL:

http://catfish/Web_Meals/frmEmployees_1.asp

If you connect to the Web server across the Internet, then you link to the ASP page using the following syntax:

http://www.site_name/virtual_directory/form_1.asp

where site_name is the domain name of the Web server, virtual_directory is the virtual Web directory that hosts the Web page, and form_1.asp is the name of the ASP page generated by the Access wizard.

For example, if your site name is web_meals.com, and the published ASP file is frmEmployees_1.asp and located in the root directory of the Web server, you enter the following URL:

http://www.web_meals.com/frmEmployees_1.asp

When you link to the wizard-generated ASP page using Internet Explorer, the ASP query executes on the server and the ASP engine generates a Web page consisting of a mixture of HTML and VBScript on the fly and returns the page to the browser. Because the Web page contains VBScript and references to the HTML Layout control, you need to use a Microsoft browser, as shown in Figure 11-4.

If you compare the ASP version of the form with the original Access form (shown in Figure 11-5), you can see that the wizard does an admirable job in converting the Access form into the Web equivalent.

If you attempt to view the page in a browser that doesn't support ActiveX controls and VBScript, you get a page that looks similar to the one shown in Figure 11-6.

Publishing a Form with an Embedded Subform

The trick to publishing a form with a subform successfully is to get the Server URL address on page 5 of the wizard correct. See Figure 11-2 and the discussion in the section "Publishing an Access Form" for more details.

The wizard publishes subforms only in datasheet view and only as read-only HTML tables. To function properly, the published subform must link to the main form using the LinkChildFields and LinkMasterFields properties of the subform control, not custom VBA code. In addition, the wizard doesn't support nested subforms.

For example, the Meals.mdb database contains a form, frmOrders, with an embedded subform (frmOrderItemsSub). The Access version of this form appears in Figure 11-7.

The Access Publish to the Web Wizard does a good job converting the frmOrders form to an ASP form, as shown in Figure 11-8. As with all published subforms, the subform itself becomes read-only when converted to the ASP format.

Using the Published Forms

The ASP version of your Access form attempts to mimic the look and behavior of the Access form it's based on. However, a few differences crop up in how the ASP version of the form works:

  • Navigating around: Click the navigational buttons at the bottom left of the form to move from one record to another. The buttons behave the same as their Access 97 counterparts. When you navigate to a different record, notice that the entire page is refreshed and repainted. On slower machines, or machines connected to the server over a slow dialup line, the refresh delay is quite noticeable.
  • Using combo box and list box controls: You can use combo controls just as you use them in Access, even when the controls are bound to a lookup table. (See the Customer and Employee fields in Figure 11-8.) Any code linked to events of the controls, however, doesn't work.

    Bound list box controls do not behave correctly. When browsing a saved record, the list box doesn't highlight the correct value.

  • Updating records: To update a record, directly edit the values in the controls on the form just as you do in the Access version of the form. Unlike in Access, however, you must also click the Commit button or else you lose your changes. After you commit the changes, the form repositions to the first record in the recordset.
  • Deleting records: Click the Delete button while a record is displayed, and you end up deleting the record from the database after a confirming dialog box appears. After you delete the record, the form repositions to the previous record in the recordset.
  • Refreshing records: If you want the currently displayed record to refresh with any changes made by other users since you began viewing the record, click the Refresh button.

Publishing Better Forms

The code behind the Access Publish to the Web Wizard does some amazing things. A sophisticated algorithm analyzes the Access form and spits out ASP code to simulate the look and feel of the Access form. The wizard hardly does a perfect job, however, and in fact has problems converting certain form elements.

What's published and what's not?

Forms in Access can be quite a bit more complex than tables or queries. As you may guess, the Access Publish to the Web Wizard can't convert everything on a form to a Web page. Table 11-1 summarizes which parts are published and which parts aren't.

Table 11-1 What Parts of an Access Form Does Access Publish to the Web Wizard Publish?

Part

Published? Comments

ActiveX control

Yes Wizard doesn't support data binding.

Background color of form section

No

Check box

Yes

Color and font properties of controls

Yes

Combo box

Yes

Command button

Yes The wizard preserves any hyperlink attached to the command button. (The wizard doesn't publish macros and VBA code attached to the command button.)

Expressions

No

Format and InputX of form section

No

Image

No

Label

Yes The wizard preserves any hyperlink attached to the label.

Line

No

List box

Yes Bound list boxes don't behave properly. (See the earlier section "Using the Published Forms.")

Macros

No

Option button

Yes

Option group

Yes Wizard doesn't publish frame.

Page Break

No

Picture property of form

No

Rectangle

No

Subform

Yes Only as read-only datasheets.

Tab

No

Text box

Yes If the control is bound to a hyperlink field, the hyperlink isn't active.

Toggle button

Yes

Unbound or bound object frame

No

VBA code

No

As you can see from Table 11-1, the wizard doesn't publish many parts of a form, including VBA code, macros, images, lines, rectangles, and expressions.

Form-publishing tips

To minimize your headaches when publishing forms, consider the following tips and tricks:

  • Keep it simple. The simpler a form is, the better it looks when published.
  • Make your forms small. The browser version of the form is usually larger, so the smaller you make your forms, the more likely they will fit within one browser page.
  • If you have controls too close to the left edge of the form, the wizard may chop off the labels, as shown in Figure 11-9. Whether or not the wizard wields a hatchet depends on how close your labels are to the left-hand margin, if you're using a template, and the width of the form. If the labels get cut off, open the Access form in design view, move the labels to the right a bit or reduce the width of the form, and republish the form.
  • By default, the background color of the published form is gray regardless of the color of the original Access form. If you want to change the background color, open the alx ASP file in Notepad, and search for the first instance of <DIV>. This tag should look something like the following:

      <DIV ID="
frmEmployees_1alx" 
STYLE="LAYOUT:FIXED;HEIGHT: 222;WIDTH: 528;">

The <DIV> tag controls the insertion of the HTML Layout control. You can change the color of the HTML Layout control by inserting a BACKGROUND tag between <DIV> and ID using the standard HTML color values. (For color values, see HTML For Dummies®, 3rd Edition, by Ed Tittel and Stephen N. James, published by IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.) For example, to change the background color to a yellowish hue, you change the preceding lines of code to:


      <DIV BACKGROUND="
#fce503" ID="
frmEmployees_1alx" 
STYLE="LAYOUT:FIXED;HEIGHT: 222;WIDTH: 528;">
  • If you move a wizard-generated form to another Web directory and you have hard-coded the Server URL into the ASP files (this is necessary if the form contains an embedded subform), you can do one of two things:
    • Republish the form with the new URL address.
    • Search and replace the URL in both the form_1.asp and form_1alx.asp files and replace each http: address with the new address.
  • If you don't have the HTML Layout control installed on your system and you attempt to view a published Access form, then code attached to the published form attempts to download the control from www.microsoft.com and install the control onto your system. This process may take several minutes, so be patient. The download may fail, however, for a variety of reasons, including:
    • Internet Explorer can't download the control because you aren't hooked up to the Internet or you're connected through a firewall. You may be able to circumvent this problem by obtaining a later version of Internet Explorer. IE 3.01 and later versions include the HTML Layout control automatically.
    • The security of your Internet Explorer (choose View-->Options, and click the Security tab) is set to the High setting. Change this value to the Medium setting.
    • If you're using IE 3.0, make sure that you select each of the Active Content settings on the Security tab of the Options dialog box.

How Wizard-Generated Pages Stack Up Against the Alternatives

The Access Publish to the Web Wizard makes it easy to publish Access forms to ASP pages that you can use to view and update the records. The pages that the wizard produces, however, have several shortcomings.

  • You must use a Microsoft Web Server with ASP support installed.
  • Your Web browser must be Internet Explorer.
  • You must have the HTML Layout control installed on your machine.
  • The Web pages are slow and lack any navigational aids beyond the first record, next record, previous record, last record, and new record buttons.

Alternatives to the Access-generated pages are not without shortcomings of their own:

  • Static HTML doesn't have any of these shortcomings, but you also can't use static HTML to link to or update data stored in a database.
  • IDC Web pages also must run on a Microsoft Web server, but they are browser-independent. To create the equivalent forms, however, you have to hand-code a lot of IDC and HTX files.

In the next part of this book, you explore another alternative: Microsoft Visual InterDev. You use this powerful tool to produce ASP pages that share many of the strengths of the Access Publish to the Web Wizard-generated pages, while not sharing many of its shortcomings.

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