Notable Mention

There are countless other improvements that you will quickly notice. In fact, there are too many to mention. However, this section will quickly group and summarize some more noteworthy enhancements. This is heavily swayed toward features added in 2003. Since development starts with the table structure, it will be discussed first. The new file format was introduced in Access 2002. This file format has been maintained in Access 2003 and it is now called Access 2002-2003 file format. Access 2002 defaulted to save in the Access 2000 file format. And, it did not require files to be converted to 2002 except to make an MDE. As always, the file format has to match the application version to make an MDE, which means that you have to use the 2002-2003 file format to make an MDE using Access 2003 or Access 2002. Since one version of Access can open multiple file formations, the caption on the database window conveniently and prominently displays the current file format. Figure 3-13 also shows the caption for a 2003 database in the 2003 file format. Reviewing the options provided on the datasheet tab gives you a good idea about how much control you now have over the look and feel of the Access environment.

Forms and reports have such an extensive list of enhancements that all of them cannot be covered here. Obviously, PivotTable and PivotChart views are new. And it is important to know that the report format now allows levels to be expanded or collapsed. Plus, you can save forms and reports as Data Access Page (DAP). Saving to DAPs was added in 2002 and it was greatly improved with the enhanced XML features of 2003. Suffice it to say that working with Web pages is getting easier with each release. This is only fitting since the Internet is critical to our clients and therefore to developers. There are several other new properties and events for both forms and reports. Developers will love the multiple levels of undo and

Figure 3-13

redo. In fact, there are so many new events for both forms and reports that you really just need to see them all in Appendix E, "The Access Object Model." You can also find out more about forms in Chapter 10 and about reports in Chapter 11. These chapters emphasize and demonstrate some of the really cool features, controls, tools, and events that are now available in forms and reports.

The Printer object and Printers collection make it easier to programmatically control printing. You can now use the Printer object and Printers collection to specify a specific printer, paper size, tray, and special features without having to open the report, select the printer, and save the report. This is covered in more detail in Appendix E.

Access Projects provide a way of connecting to SQL Server. There have been extensive upgrades and enhancements with regards to ADP and working with SQL Server or the Microsoft Development Environment. This list is indeed too long to enumerate, but let us pique your curiosity with updatable views, batch update as an Access form property, using disconnected recordsets for ADP objects, and even the ease of using the linked table manager to link to SQL Server; Chapter 17, "Understanding ClientServer Development with VBA," is devoted to working effectively with SQL Server.

Compact and repair has been combined into one command and it works better than ever at recovering broken forms and reports. Not only that, but it can even reduce a file size by as much as 70 percent. Talking about reducing file size is a reminder that the regular use of Compile and Save can go a long way toward preventing problems. So, when working in the VBE, make it a habit to click Debug, Compile at least hourly.

Missing references-Speaking of code, if references are missing, the new message will be more informative and actually tell you what file (reference) it cannot find. So, when you move or open a new database, it is easy to find out if it is necessary to update or correct references. It is so much nicer to fix references before trying to use the application. A lot of developers were frustrated with having to peck through references to figure out what was missing or to get them in the right priority. Thankfully, Access pretty much handles the priority issues. So, when a database is converted from an earlier version of Access, it does a pretty good job of automatically updating references to Microsoft components. There is more about this in Appendix B, "References for Projects."

Speech recognition was introduced in Access 2002 and was improved in 2003. It can be used for both commands and data input. It is not, however, available in Design View. But, who would be brave enough to talk the computer through placing controls on a form. Thinking back to school exercises when we had to tell someone how to draw something, it never came out looking like the original drawing. So, you can only imagine how a dictated form would look.

Multilingual support is provided for both text and graphics. We definitely have a global economy, so our applications need to support the international needs of our clients. Now, you can display multilingual text in tables, forms, and reports if the required fonts are installed. And the multilingual text can be preserved when the data is output to RTF, HTML, text, XML, and Excel file formats. Third party ad-ins are available to assist with extensive conversions into other languages.

In fact, special languages and fonts don't have to be installed for you to start benefiting from the multilingual features in Access. There are already several language dictionaries to choose from on the Spelling tab of the Options menu. And, the International tab allows changing the default cursor direction from moving left-to-right to moving right-to-left. It's pretty easy to see the International and Spelling tabs of the Option window.

Now, it is time to move on to learn about some of the tools that Access provides to do the work for you—specifically, the wizards, builders, and managers. Developers should not be taking these for granted.

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