Author: Julitta Korol
Audience: Access users wanting to move on to programming Rating: 3.5
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank
Does this book help make the transition from Access user to database programmer?
Working out how to develop apps for Microsoft Access isn’t easy because of the range of options, and the mixed messages from Microsoft. Should you be using ADO or DAO? Will VBA be around long enough to make it a good choice? Where does Data Definition Language fit in? This book is aimed at users who know Access and want to move on to programming apps using its various automation techniques. This is the latest version of the book; earlier versions covered Access 2007 and 2003.
The majority of the book is dedicated to using VBA for programming Access. Julitta Korol starts with a section on the basics of writing code in Access; the Visual Basic Editor, what variables are, how to pass arguments to procedures and functions. Given the intended audience, this is material that has to be covered. There are chapters on Ifs and loops, arrays and collections and class modules, and two final chapters on learning to program – the debugging tools and conditional compilation and error trapping.
Korol then moves on to programming in VBA. After a chapter on Jet and ACE that doesn’t really give much guidance on making a choice between the options, she then goes on to show how to create tables and fields using VBA. I found this a strange place to start; if you’ve got Access, creating tables using code is something few programmers would have to do, and few would choose to. Similarly the next chapter on setting up primary keys, indexes and table relationships from code. By page 359 Korol is into more useful material showing working with DAO and ADO recordsets. She then moves through the main topics – creating and running queries, database security, and replication. The next part of the book looks at using the Jet Data Definition Language for those programmers who want to use Access but via the SQL subset it supports, and covers similar ground to the earlier section using Jet.
For most programmers who just want to know how to program those parts of Access where code is helpful, Chapter 25 is where the action really starts, at page 665 of the 1057 page book. There are good chapters on enhancing Access forms, using form events, enhancing reports, using advanced event programming, and programming the user interface. By page 863 we’re back onto the less useful topic of macros as an alternative to VBA, before finishing with a chapter on XML and Access.
I really wanted to like this book. I’ve worked with a lot of Access users who dabble in programming, and they need some good books to help them with the confusing options for programming in Access. Where Korol is covering material that is relevant, her examples look clear and her explanations are good. What disappointed me was the amount of space dedicated to aspects that are ancillary. In summary, I’d say the book is worth reading but could have been a lot more useful if the space had been used for more coverage of the central parts most would-be developers struggle with.