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Chapter 44. Understanding Automation > The History of Office Data Exchange

The History of Office Data Exchange

With every version of Office, the techniques available for interchanging data among Office applications have become more sophisticated. Starting with Windows 3.0, the Windows clipboard has allowed users to exchange text data (and, to some extent, graphic data) among Windows applications, using the Copy and Paste commands on the File menu (or their hot-key equivalents, Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V). But copying and pasting aren't very practical for transferring large amounts of Access or Excel data to another application, and these techniques require the user to perform the appropriate selection (copying, application switching, selection, and pasting operations) just right—otherwise the right data won't get into the right location in the target application.

Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) provided a way to exchange data in various early VB dialects (WordBasic, AccessBasic, and so on). It wasn't very reliable, and the programming syntax was obscure, but it did the job for certain types of information exchange. You may still see DDE code used to transfer data among Office applications—it survives to this day in Access-to-Word Mail Merge—but it has generally been replaced by the more powerful and easier-to-use Automation technology, which lets you work directly with objects belonging to other applications' object models. You will see Automation in practice in the listings later in this chapter.


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