Book Review: Access Solutions Tips, Tricks and Secrets
December 6, 2010
Microsoft Access 2010 is a significant release. It's the version that developers will start to use in earnest and they're going to benefit from a little guidance. Access Solutions Tips, Tricks and Secrets from Microsoft Access MVPs will help you get the most out of Microsoft Access 2010.
Honestly, I hadn't wanted to do any more book reviews but then came Access Solutions Tips, Tricks and Secrets from Microsoft Access MVPs and I realized I have to do at least one more. This book's authors are Arvin Meyer and Doug Steele with contributions from other well-known heavyweights in the Microsoft Access community.
It's the right time for the right authors on the right version of Access. As I've said before in this column, Access 2010 is a significant release. It's the version that developers will start to use in earnest and they're going to benefit from a little guidance. Arvin and Doug are the MVPs who can help you get the most out of Microsoft Access 2010. Like most tech books, this one sells for $49.99. It's well worth the money and I highly recommend it.
The book is laid out in "parts" much like other Access tutorials. In addition to sections on Tables, Forms and other Access objects, it includes sections about Automation, Access and the Web, and some helpful utilities.
There are 43 "chapters" or as the authors label them, Tips. Each tip explains the objective and scenario that applies to the tip and then specifies how the tip is implemented through Access objects (Tables, Queries, Forms, Reports, Macros and Modules). Each chapter concludes with a section describing how to use the tip and finally a reference to additional information, if any exists.
There is a nice, albeit brief, discussion of requirements analysis and table that describes the naming conventions used. Most of us who've been around Access for a decade or more learned our naming conventions from previous Access handbooks so there's usually only minor deviations. I was pleased to see that the authors promote a naming schema more akin to what I've settled on based on years of typing code. Maybe it's self-gratifying but I find it comfortable and I think you will too.
There are no appendices. The book is, in and of itself, one large appendix. It's not "How to Build an Access Application" or "The ABCs of Access" or "Meet Access 2010". It is what it purports to be, Tips, Tricks and Secrets from Access MVPs, solutions for your Access 2010 applications.
Access Solutions Tips, Tricks and Secrets Table of Contents
This is the part about book reviews I really hate. I can't reproduce the entire book here and it's boring to sift through a table-of-contents listing of topics. What I can do is highlight a few topics that impressed me, topics that might make the book worth picking up. The entire TOC may be viewed at the Wiley site for this book.
As someone who's been around Access for a while, the technology behind some tips was no surprise to me. Even so, the application of the technology compelled me to read the tip closely. Tips like "A Singe Query to Do Both Updates and Insertions" and "Using a Cartesian Product to Generate a Calendar" are very specific applications of ideas I'm already familiar with, but interesting to read and useful to keep in mind.
Other topics like "Creating Tables for Web Applications" and "Building an Access Web Application" were of greater interest to me because these are new features of Access 2010. There are also tips about embedding a web control, RSS feeds and determining if you've got Internet connectivity.
The authors included chapters for obscure topics like "Implementing Soundex", "Document Management using Access" and "Ultra-Fast Searching." All of these tips interested me and I came away with specific ideas for problems I face in some of my applications. There were a number of chapters that weren't of interest to me at this time, but might prove valuable to other readers. Things like implementing Drag-and-Drop, Using the TreeView control, Relinking Tables and calendar-style reporting are specific topics but the code supplied is invaluable if that's what you need to build at this time.
Probably the most interesting chapters were those on VBA: "Useful String Functions" and "Useful Functions". They are the kind of tools we developers keep around in all our applications but they supplied code for things I hadn't even thought of doing, like ReverseIt() and Encrypt().
I like the authors. I like the book.