MS Access for the Business Environment: MS Access as a Documentation Tool: Display Object Dependencies

About the Series …

article is a member of the series MS
Access for the Business Environment
The primary focus of this
series is an examination of business uses for the MS Access relational database
management system. For more information on the series, as well as the hardware
/ software requirements to prepare for the tutorials we will undertake, please
see the first article of our series, Create a Calculated Field with the
Expression Builder

Note: The majority of the procedures I demonstrate
in the series are undertaken within MS Office Access 2003, but are
applicable to earlier versions of MS Access. However, the concepts that we
explore in this article will apply to MS Office Access 2003 and beyond
only, as the functionality we will explore is new in MS Office Access 2003.


In the
last article of this series,
Access as a Documentation Tool: Database Diagramming
, we began an examination of the use
of various MS Access features as documentation tools. We focused on meeting
the important need of diagramming our databases for several reasons, including
the support of a data dictionary as well as various enterprise reporting and
other development efforts.

In this article, we
will examine a feature that is new in MS Office Access 2003, and which offers
great potential in our documentation, maintenance, and general upkeep efforts,
from the perspective of the organizations MS Access databases. In MS Office
Access 2003, we can directly and easily view information on dependencies
between database objects
. The capability to view a list of a database’s
objects, particularly within the context of how those objects relate to each
other, can help us to maintain a database over time. The capability is perhaps
most useful in helping us to avoid errors that emerge with the uninformed
removal of record sources or other databases objects, but numerous other
potential uses exist, as well.

Many of us are familiar
with a scenario within which we have inherited a database environment that
contains duplicate, non-working, or other objects of questionable utility. The
reasons for the "object graveyard" are legion, but we can well
understand that, for successful DBAs and developers, organization is certainly
a virtue. The need to purge objects that are useless, or of unknown origin /
vintage, is, in these cases, second only to the need to ascertain that they
are, indeed, truly useless. To that end, the need to verify that dependencies
do not exist between the valid objects and the suspect object(s) is critical.

We often need to
generate a quick view of the dependencies among objects when we undertake such
a housecleaning. With this, and other scenarios, in mind, Microsoft
incorporated the capability to view object dependencies in MS Office Access
2003. In this article, we will explore
using this capability for documentation and maintenance support purposes. We

  • Discuss our objectives
    within the article, and present a scenario upon which we will base our practice

  • Overview the View
    Object Dependencies
    capabilities in MS Office Access 2003;

  • Discuss
    required preparation for using the functionality;

  • Overview
    limitations and other considerations involved;

  • Perform a
    hands-on exercise wherein we illustrate the use of the View Object
    functionality in supporting client documentation functions.
William Pearson
William Pearson
Bill has been working with computers since before becoming a "big eight" CPA, after which he carried his growing information systems knowledge into management accounting, internal auditing, and various capacities of controllership. Bill entered the world of databases and financial systems when he became a consultant for CODA-Financials, a U.K. - based software company that hired only CPA's as application consultants to implement and maintain its integrated financial database - one of the most conceptually powerful, even in his current assessment, to have emerged. At CODA Bill deployed financial databases and business intelligence systems for many global clients. Working with SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase and Informix, and focusing on MSSQL Server, Bill created Island Technologies Inc. in 1997, and has developed a large and diverse customer base over the years since. Bill's background as a CPA, Internal Auditor and Management Accountant enable him to provide value to clients as a liaison between Accounting / Finance and Information Services. Moreover, as a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) - a Certified Public Accountant recognized for his or her unique ability to provide business insight by leveraging knowledge of information relationships and supporting technologies - Bill offers his clients the CPA's perspective and ability to understand the complicated business implications and risks associated with technology. From this perspective, he helps them to effectively manage information while ensuring the data's reliability, security, accessibility and relevance. Bill has implemented enterprise business intelligence systems over the years for many Fortune 500 companies, focusing his practice (since the advent of MSSQL Server 2000) upon the integrated Microsoft business intelligence solution. He leverages his years of experience with other enterprise OLAP and reporting applications (Cognos, Business Objects, Crystal, and others) in regular conversions of these once-dominant applications to the Microsoft BI stack. Bill believes it is easier to teach technical skills to people with non-technical training than vice-versa, and he constantly seeks ways to graft new technology into the Accounting and Finance arenas. Bill was awarded Microsoft SQL Server MVP in 2009. Hobbies include advanced literature studies and occasional lectures, with recent concentration upon the works of William Faulkner, Henry James, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Honoré de Balzac, and Charles Dickens. Other long-time interests have included the exploration of generative music sourced from database architecture.
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