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Introduction - Pg. xiv

xiv Introduction At the start of this project, the people at Microsoft who put this book together listened to participants in a customer focus group describe how they first learned to use Microsoft Access, what resources they consulted when they needed to know more, and how they planned to develop their skills with Access and other software applications as they faced work-related challenges in the future. These customers weren't professional programmers (although some used Microsoft Visual Basic code in the databases they created), nor were they first-time users of applications in the Microsoft Office System. In general, they were people who used a computer and one or more Office applications every day. They included real estate agents, financial consultants, a department manager for a manufacturing firm, and salespeople-members of a group that's often called knowledge or infor- mation workers. A mainstay of the work these people did was capture information, analyze it, and share it. To do their work effectively, they needed more than a basic understanding of how to use an application such as Access. A few had taken formal training classes, many got advice from knowledgeable friends, but almost all said that they learned the most by working on their own with a computer program. Through their own hands-on work, they developed skills they could apply when a problem needed solving or a task needed doing now. Microsoft Office Access 2003 Inside Track was written with people like these in mind-specifically, users who want to learn at their own pace how to design, build, and manage a Microsoft Access database for a home or small business or for a departmental workgroup within a larger organization. Microsoft Office Access 2003 Inside Track will most benefit people who are already familiar with Microsoft Office and who are motivated to learn Access from the ground up or those who want to expand on their knowledge of the fundamentals of the program that they've picked up through ex- perience using a previous version. Microsoft Office Access 2003 Inside Track covers the latest version of Access, released as part of the Microsoft Office System in the fall of 2003, but this book doesn't spend significant time comparing Access 2003 to previous versions of Access. It is not simply a new features book, but you will learn about the most current features in Access, including how to use Access with Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services, how to use Access with Microsoft InfoPath, and how Access supports XML. This book is also not an A to Z reference. For example, this book doesn't describe every one of the many helpful wizards that come with Access. Instead, Microsoft Office Access 2003 Inside Track is designed to build on a foundation of basic skills through extensive hands-on examples with a sample database. The examples illustrate how to perform the tasks required to create an Access database and explain the context you need to perform these tasks for a database you're working on, not only for the sample database put together for this book. The Inside Track When you have the inside track, you're at an advantage, so what are the advantages this book has for readers interested in learning how to build and maintain a database in Microsoft Office Access 2003? Here's a list of some of them: