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Introduction

Introduction

Many people believe that Microsoft Access is not an appropriate tool for enterprise development. I have many happy large corporate clients whose real-life experiences strongly contradict that opinion. The problem with many people's attempts at enterprise development with Access is that their approach is completely inappropriate.

New clients often call me out to their site because their client/server Access application is not only slow, but it also is bringing the entire network to a crawl. These clients are often convinced that we must immediately rewrite the application in Visual Basic, PowerBuilder, Active Server Pages (ASP), or some other tool. Sometimes they are correct, but most of the time the problem is that the developer of the application has architected it improperly. Usually, the forms and reports return all of the data over the network wire whether the user needs it or not. After redesigning the application so that it brings only the necessary data over the network (a much less expensive proposition than rewriting the application in another environment), my clients are thrilled with the results. Empirical evidence proves over and over again that Microsoft Access can play in the enterprise arena.

This book picks up where Alison Balter's Mastering Access 2002 Desktop Development left off. It begins by discussing a strategy for developing Access applications. It talks about Access's strengths and weaknesses, as well as when it is appropriate to use Access as a development tool and when it is not. Chapter 2, “Developing Multiuser Applications,” continues by talking about how you can write applications that transition easily from the single-user environment through the enterprise client/server environment. You learn about multiuser issues such as multiuser design strategies, linking to external tables, and record locking. Whereas Chapter 2 focuses on multiuser issues, Chapter 3, “Introduction to Client/Server Development Techniques,” covers client/server techniques. You learn when to move an application to the client/server environment and how to upsize an application to a client/server environment. You also learn about the various client/server techniques available to you.

Chapter 4, “SQL Server Basics,” begins a section of the book that focuses on Microsoft SQL Server. Within Chapter 4, you learn all of the basics of working with SQL Server 2000. The chapter tours Enterprise Manager, Query Analyzer, Performance Monitor, and data-transformation services (DTS). Within Chapter 4, you also learn how to create a SQL Server database. With all of that information under your belt, you are ready to move on to Chapter 5, “SQL Server Tables and Database Diagrams,” where you learn how to create and modify the design of tables and diagrams. Then, in Chapter 6, “Mastering T-SQL,” I discuss all of the basics of working with the Transact-SQL (T-SQL) language. This information is necessary so that you can effectively build SQL Server views, stored procedures, functions, and triggers, which are an integral part of any client/server application and an important part of any client/server developer's arsenal. Chapter 7, “Working with SQL Server Views,” covers the process of building SQL Server views, and Chapter 8, “Designing SQL Server Stored Procedures, User-Defined Functions, and Triggers,” covers the process of building SQL Server stored procedures, functions, and triggers. It is important to secure the SQL Server database and components that you build. Even a secured Access application is useless if the user can access the SQL Server directly and destroy the data that your application so carefully maintains. Chapter 9, “SQL Server Security,” covers SQL Server security. You learn how to set up logins and roles and the basics of securing all of the objects in your database.

After you have read Chapters 4 through 9, you are ready to start thinking about building your client/server applications. Chapter 10, “ADO and SQL Server,” covers ActiveX data objects (ADO). It focuses on how you can use ADO to work with SQL Server data and objects. Chapter 11, “Developing an MDB Client/Server Application with Linked Tables,” shows you how to build an MDB client/server application with linked tables and bound forms. Chapter 12, “Developing an ADP Application,” transitions you to the process of building an Access Data Project (ADP) client/server application. Because there are times when you will need to develop parts of your application with unbound forms, Chapter 13, “Building Unbound Applications,” covers the ins and outs of unbound forms. For the real hard-core developers and applications, Access can participate in a multitier environment. Chapter 14, “Building N-Tier Applications,” shows you how you can build applications in which all of the data access code resides in middle-tier business objects, written in a development environment such as Visual Basic. You can use these components with your Access applications as well as with Visual Basic, ASP, and any other applications that support the Component Object Model (COM).

After you have completed Chapter 14, you have not only covered all of the basics of SQL Server, but you have also covered all of the important client/server development techniques. You are ready to move on to special topics that make your life as a client/server enterprise developer easier. Chapter 15, “Configuring, Maintaining, and Tuning SQL Server,” covers the process of configuring and maintaining your SQL Server. Included in the chapter are important topics such as backing up and restoring, SQL Server configuration options, and troubleshooting performance problems. Although you can leave these techniques to your company's database administrator (DBA), it is a good idea to have a general understanding of all of the topics covered in the chapter.

Chapters 16, “Transaction Processing,” 17, “Access Replication Made Easy,” and 18, “Taking Advantage of the Microsoft Office XP Developer,” move the focus off SQL Server and back onto Access. In Chapter 16, you learn how to implement transaction processing in the applications that you build. Chapter 17 covers Access replication. You learn what replication is and when it's appropriate. You also learn how to implement replication in your own Access databases. Chapter 18 covers the Microsoft Office XP Developer. You learn what the XP Developer is and the tools within it that you will probably want to take advantage of. Chapter 19, “Source Code Control,” covers Visual SourceSafe. This powerful tool is a must in a multideveloper environment. It offers versioning control, as well as the capability to keep track of who modified what and when. If you have purchased the Microsoft Office XP Developer, you can integrate this powerful product into the Access development environment.

Well, it seems as if every book these days has to include coverage of the Internet and intranet. This book is no exception. Chapters 2023 focus on Access, SQL Server, and their integration with the Internet. Chapter 20, “Publishing Data on the Web,” begins the discussion by covering how you can publish your Access and SQL Server data to the Web from within Microsoft Access. You learn not only how to create Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) documents from your Access objects, but also how you can use HTX/IDC files and ASP files to dynamically publish data to the Web. Chapter 21, “XML Support in Microsoft Access,” covers XML support within Microsoft Access. In that chapter, you learn how to publish XML from your database objects, as well as how to generate schema (XSD) and style sheets (XSL). Chapter 22, “Data Access Pages,” continues the Web coverage with the creation of data access pages. Data access pages allow you to display your application data in a browser. Using data access pages, you can view, analyze, or update data. These Web forms can provide a great means to get you up and running quickly with an intranet application. The final chapter, Chapter 23, “SQL Server and the Internet,” covers SQL Server and the Internet. Certain Web features are stronger in SQL Server than in Access. For example, you can configure SQL Server to automatically republish an HTML document each time data in certain fields changes. Chapter 23 shows you where SQL Server 2000 shines in the Internet and intranet world.

The Access development environment is robust and exciting. It is in no way limited to simple desktop applications. With the keys to deliver all that Access 2002 offers, you can produce enterprise applications that provide satisfaction as well as financial rewards. After poring over this hands-on guide and keeping it nearby for handy reference, you, too, can become masterful at enterprise development with Access 2002. This book is dedicated to demonstrating how you can fulfill the promise of making Access 2002 perform up to its lofty capabilities. As you will see, you have the ability to really make Access 2002 shine in the enterprise development world!

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