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Introduction

Introduction

Many excellent books about Access are available. So why write another one? While talking to the many students that I meet in my travels around the country, I have heard one common complaint. Instead of the several great books available for the user community or the host of wonderful books available for expert Access developers, my students yearn for a book targeted toward the intermediate to advanced developer. They yearn for a book that starts at the beginning, ensures that they have no gaps in their knowledge, and takes them through some of the most advanced aspects of Access development. Along the way, they want to be provided with volumes of practical code that they easily can port into their own applications. Alison Balter's Mastering Access 97 Development, Second Edition is specifically written with those requests in mind.

This book begins by providing you with an introduction to Access development. It alerts you to the types of applications that can be developed in Access and introduces you to the components of an Access application. After you understand what an Access application is and when it is appropriate to develop one, you explore the steps involved in building an actual Access application. Several strategies are covered before the first application component is built. This ensures that you, as the developer of the application, are aware of the design issues that might affect you in your particular environment.

After you discover the overall picture, you are ready to venture into the specific details of each object in an Access database. Chapters 3 through 7 cover the basics of tables, relationships, queries, forms, and reports. These chapters provide you with an approach to developing these database objects from a developer's perspective. Although this text starts at the beginning, it provides you with many tips, tricks, and caveats not readily apparent from the documentation or from books targeted toward end-users.

After you have a strong foundation of knowledge on how to build tables, queries, forms, and reports, you are ready to plunge into coding full-force. Chapters 8 through 10 provide you with an extremely strong grasp of the VBA language. Once again, starting with the basics, you are gently taken to the most complex intricacies of the VBA language and Access object model. Many practical examples are provided in the text to ensure that you thoroughly digest each topic.

Chapter 11 introduces you to macros. Because this book is targeted toward developers, this chapter is the only one in which macros are discussed. The chapter focuses on why you as a developer might opt or need to use macros to complete certain tasks.

Chapters 12 through 14 provide you with an advanced discussion of queries, forms, and reports. By the time you reach this point in the text, you should be familiar with all the basics of creating database objects. These chapters combine the basics of table, query, form, and report design with the VBA and object techniques covered in Chapters 8 through 10. The power techniques covered in Chapters 12 through 14 provide you with the expertise you need in order to design the most complex types of queries, forms, and reports required by your applications.

Before you are ready to ride through the frontier of the many intricacies of the Access development environment, one basic topic remains. Chapter 15 introduces you to data access objects. After reading Chapter 15, you will see how you can move away from bound objects, manipulating the data in your database using code.

Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned. No matter what your level of expertise, you often will find yourself stumped over a piece of code and looking for answers. Chapter 16 shows you how to effectively employ the debugger to solve any coding problems you might have. Every aspect of the debugger is covered here. Even after your application has been thoroughly debugged, you still must responsibly provide a means by which errors are handled in your application. Chapter 17 shows you everything you need to know to implement error handling in your application. Included in the text and on the sample code CD-ROM is a generic error handler that you easily can build into any of your own applications.

With the foundation provided by the first 17 chapters, you are ready to move into the more rich and complex aspects of the VBA language and the Access development environment. Chapters 18 through 24 cover all aspects of developing applications for a multiuser or client/server environment. You explore locking strategies, how to interact with non-native Access file formats, and how to use ODBC to design client/server applications. Transaction processing, application optimization, and replication also are covered in these chapters.

As an Access developer, your world is not limited to just Access. To be effective and productive as an Access developer, you must know how to interact with other applications and how to use ActiveX controls, libraries, menu add-ins, wizards, and builders to assist you with the application development process. Chapters 25 through 30 cover OLE, using ActiveX controls, Access and the Internet, managing application development with Visual SourceSafe, and library and add-in techniques. After reading these chapters, you will understand how to use external objects and functionality to add richness to your applications without too much effort on your part.

At last, you are ready to put the final polish on your application. Chapters 31 through 37 cover the Windows API, security, documentation, maintenance, help, and distribution. You learn how to properly secure your application so that the investment you have put into the application development process is not compromised in any way. You also discover how easy it is to put into your application the final touches that provide it with a professional polish and make it stand out from the rest.

The Access development environment is robust and exciting. With the keys to deliver all that it offers, you can produce applications that provide you with much satisfaction as well as many financial rewards. After poring over this hands-on guide and keeping it nearby for handy reference, you too can become masterful at Access 97 development. This book is dedicated to demonstrating how you can fulfill the promise of making Access 97 perform up to its lofty capabilities. As you will see, you have the ability to really make Access 97 shine in the everyday world!

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