The capability to rapidly provide better solutions has to be one of the strongest motivations for any developer. With the new features of Access 2007, developers can turn their focus to understanding business rules and providing solutions that enable managers to view and share information in ways that help them make better decisions faster. Access 2007 provides tools that allow faster development, better integration, easier deployment, and better security. But what does that really mean?
In Access 2007, many tasks that previously required add-ins or custom code are just a click away. The navigation pane not only displays the database objects, but it allows related objects to be grouped together. The Ribbon and Record selector and Field List pane are context sensitive and display relevant options. This means that, based on the control that you are working on, you can instantly add features such as the data picker and rich text formatting, have the ability to save a report in PDF format, add groups and totals to data sheets, and even manage many-to-many relationships. If you already have roll-your-own versions of toolbars and search tools, you might wonder why you'd use the built-in features. Think about consistency, compatibility, and expediency. Using built-in functionality makes it easier to collaborate, eliminates the hassles of maintaining additional references and libraries, and avoids security issues related to executable code. Templates are another time-saver. In addition to customizable solutions, there are table and field templates. And, as you'll read in Chapter 21, developers can use ADE—Access Developer Extensions—to create their own templates.
New features such as the Ribbon, the image and text on controls, and the ability to optimize form displays based on screen resolution also afford more professional and polished presentation. And in addition to better management of hyperlinks, you can now save attachments—multiple attachments and attachment types per record—in the database. Access efficiently manages the compression and reduces database bloat.
Working with external data just got a whole lot easier. Automatic field type recognition is just the tip of the iceberg. Because a lot of data comes from Excel, there's the capability to specify field types and then save the import or export specifications. If it is a routine task, it can even be scheduled in Outlook. And speaking of Outlook, contact information can now be updated and sent to and from Outlook. And you have better options for working with SQL Server. Using linked tables with the ACCDB file format, you can connect directly to SQL Server data and leverage the powerful new features of Access 2007 for queries, forms, and reports. Access 2007 also works with InfoPath and XML.
There are also changes to various aspects of security, particularly with the new ACCDB file format. This format does not support user-level security, but it does provide enhanced data security at the file level through data encryption. As explained in the IT section, many deployment and security issues, such as user permissions, can be handled through integration with a SharePoint server. You can also create your own permission control system. Of course, in Access 2007, user- and group-level security is still supported in MDB format databases using the workgroup administrator and MDW file. And then there are macros. These warrant being included in security discussions because embedded macros can run in disabled mode, which means that the database can have significant functionality without being signed or explicitly trusted.
Macros and disabled mode bring us to the new concept of the Trust Center. The Trust Center is the Office 2007 interface for managing security and privacy settings. It allows users to establish the settings for the current application as well as for all Office applications. In Access, users can adjust macro security settings, trusted locations, and trusted publishers. And proper management of the trust center settings (see Chapter 22) can reduce some security nuisances associated with deployment. Macros will become more of a developer tool now that they have error handling and debugging, and support the use of variables.
Some developers have expressed disappointment, believing that the new features in Access 2007 benefit end users more than developers. But the following list of new tools and features should reassure developers:
□ To work with macros, there are three new temporary variables: SetTempVar, RemoveTempVar, and RemoveAllTempVars.
□ To support the new multi-value fields, DAO has three new objects: ComplexType, Field2, and RecordSet2.
□ The Code Project has new properties of IsTrusted and ImportExportSpecification, and it no longer has the property AddDataAccessPages.
□ DoCmd has 10 new methods, including DoCmd.ExportNavigationPane and DoCmd.ClearMacroError.
□ Controls have 20 new properties, many of which are associated with the grid lines and anchoring, such as BottomPadding, GridlineColor, and HorizontalAnchor.
□ Forms have 14 new properties, including DatasheetAlternateBackColor, DisplayOnSharePointSite, NavigationCaption, and OrderByOnLoad.
□ Subforms have 18 new properties, including FilterOnEmptyMaster and LayoutId, plus several related to anchoring and gridlines.
□ Reports have 32 new properties, including OnApplyFilter, FilterOnLoad, and FitToPage as well as most of the new form properties. Reports also have one new method and 18 new events, including the events from forms, such as Click, GotFocus, and Timer.
□ Report sections have three new properties to support alternating row colors and auto resizing. They also have Paint, a new event that fires every time a specified section is redrawn. (You'll see more about Paint in Chapter 11.)
□ There are 153 new constants, including acFormatPDF, acFormatXLSX, and acFormatXPS. A few constants such as acFormatASP and acFormatDAP are no longer supported.
And finally, there is one feature that will go at the top of developers' lists—the mouse scroll wheel works in VBA!
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