10x Your Memory Power
Every computer system contains hardware and software. Hardware refers to the physical components that make up a computer system. Software refers to the programs that operate the hardware. The hardware will normally consist such as the PC itself - called the base unit - as well as other devices connected to the base unit, such as the keyboard, mouse, printer, scanner, and so on. These devices are usually connected to the base unit by cables, or some other means. Input devices are devices that receive information from the user, such as a keyboard, scanner, microphone or mouse. Output devices, on the other hand, are devices that send information to the user, such as a display unit, printer, or sound speakers (see Figure 1.1). Devices connected to the base unit are collectively known as peripherals. The base unit contains, amongst other things, the Central Processing Unit (CPU), which is the 'brain' of the system, short-term memory and long-term memory in the form of hard disk drives,...
Using VBA in Access is largely a matter of manipulating database objects to achieve a goal. In this chapter, we walk you through the basics of objects that Access exposes to VBA. Access has so many objects, properties, and methods that we have no hope of explaining them all in a single book. You have no real hope of ever memorizing them all, either, because there's just too darn many of them. What you really need is the skill of being able to find the information you need, exactly when you need it. Thus, much of this chapter focuses on that skill.
In Chapter 2, while working in the Immediate window, you tried several Visual Basic instructions that returned some information. For example, when you entered Forms Suppliers.RecordSource, you found out that the Suppliers form was based on Suppliers. However, outside the Immediate window, when you write Visual Basic procedures, you can't use the question mark. So how do you obtain your answers while doing real programming If you enter the Forms Suppliers.RecordSource statement in your procedure, Visual Basic won't suddenly stop to tell you the result of this instruction. To find out what a particular statement has returned, you must tell Visual Basic to memorize it. You do this by using variables.
In Chapter 2, while working in the Immediate window, you tried several Visual Basic instructions that returned some information. For example, when you entered Cells.Count, you found out that there are 16,777,216 cells in a worksheet. However, when you write Visual Basic procedures outside of the Immediate window, you can't use the question mark. When you omit the question mark and enter Cells.Count in your procedure, Visual Basic won't stop suddenly to tell you the result of this instruction. If you want to know the result after executing a particular instruction, you must tell Visual Basic to memorize it. In programming, results returned by Visual Basic instructions can be written to variables.
You might wonder why a class that encapsulates the MsgBox function would be useful. This class is useful for a number of reasons. The most important is that it makes using the MsgBox function less of a memory teaser. The MsgBox function provides a wealth of style options, but trying to memorize them all is a waste of time. Creating a class that eliminates the memory gymnastics for you saves time and effort. 1 Reduced learning curve A class should reduce the need to memorize things or to figure out odd programming techniques. A class should provide easy-to-understand methods, properties, and events.
This helps beginners by not forcing them to memorize the entire object model in order to start being productive. It helps everyone, including advanced developers, by requiring much fewer keystrokes to code an application. This is because Auto List Members pares down the list as you type. As soon as the list is narrowed down to the property or method you are looking for, you can press the spacebar and Auto List Members enters the rest of the code for you. For example, if you need to enter the following code Auto Quick Info Auto Quick Info (see Figure 2.8) displays information about functions and function parameters. This is very helpful because many functions contain numerous parameters. Without Auto Quick Info, you'd need to memorize or look up the parameter names, order of parameters, and each parameter's data type.
In Chapter 4, you can pick up more advanced skills for creating procedures. For now, be aware that every VBA keyword has certain rules of syntax, which you must follow to a T if you want your code to work. You can't expect to memorize and master every keyword and its syntax in a short time because VBA has too darn many keywords. However, after you know how to get help with keywords, you always have the information that you need at your fingertips.
Click on the form a few times to confirm that the variables are incrementing and displaying properly. After you have displayed a few values, use the Immediate window to change the form's Forecolor property. (Unless you have specific hexadecimal values memorized, this may be most easily accomplished via the RGB function, or by using VB's built-in named Color constants, such as vbRed, vbMagenta, and so on.) Clear your breakpoint and click on the form again to confirm that the printed output has changed color.
However, rather than memorize these combinations, let's put VBA and Select Case to work to make choosing colors easier. Listing 6.7 shows the VBAColor function, which lets you use names (for example, red or blue ) rather than cryptic number combinations to set 16 of the most common colors.
I believe that learning how to develop in Excel using VBA is easy. That said, you'll notice a dramatic improvement in your ability to churn out applications efficiently as you progress. When I first started learning VBA in Excel 5.0, I had a significant amount of experience with Excel. In fact, I was the Excel guru at work. Back then, the development environment wasn't nearly as friendly and hospitable to beginners as it is now. You actually had to memorize the Excel object model you didn't have Intel-liSense to show you applicable properties and methods (we'll discuss IntelliSense in the next chapter). Anyway, developing an average application might have taken 3 months or more once I got past the initial learning stage. These days, the average application takes 2 or 3 weeks. Many smaller applications can be completed in less than a week, simple utilities can be completed in as little as 15 to 30 minutes, and user-defined functions can be coded in a matter of minutes.
VBA procedures are only as useful as they are convenient. There isn't much point in creating a procedure that saves you (or your users) a few keystrokes if you (or they) have to expend a lot of time and energy hunting down a routine. Shortcut keys are true time-savers, but some applications (such as Excel) have only a limited supply to dole out (and our brains can memorize only so many Ctrl+key combinations).
Writing procedures in Visual Basic requires that you use hundreds of built-in instructions and functions. Because most people cannot memorize the correct syntax of all the instructions available in VBA, IntelliSense technology provides you with syntax and programming assistance on demand during the course of entering instructions. While working in the Code window, you can have special windows pop up and guide you through the process of creating correct VBA code. The Edit toolbar in the VBE window contains several buttons that let you enter correctly formatted VBA instructions with speed and ease. If the Edit toolbar isn't currently docked in the Visual Basic Editor window, you can turn it on by choosing View Toolbars.
The WordLateBound procedure doesn't require you to set a reference. On the flip side, the variables must be declared as Object objects. Further, because VBA has no knowledge of the properties and methods associated with the variables, the VBE can't provide any help in the form of Auto List Members or Auto Syntax Checking. Writing code when you are using late bound objects is old-school. You either memorize object libraries or else spend a lot of time in the help files looking up properties, methods, and method parameters.
Knowing that U is the 21st letter of the alphabet is not something that comes naturally. We have 26 letters, so A is 1 and Z is 26. M is the halfway point of the alphabet and is Column 13. The rest of the letters are pretty non-intuitive. I found that by playing this little game for a few minutes each day, I soon had memorized the column numbers
Just knowing how to read the Help screens is a challenge in itself. It just takes time to practice. Programming isn't the kind of skill you master overnight. It's a skill you acquire gradually by finding out about one keyword, and then another, and then another, and so forth. VBA has so many keywords that it would take years to memorize them all.
Next, you can work through the outline, focusing on learning the details. Memorize and understand terms and their definitions, facts, rules and strategies, advantages and disadvantages, and so on. In this pass through the outline, attempt to learn detail rather than the big picture (the organizational information that you worked on in the first pass through the outline).
A related benefit to this great memory that class modules have is that you can set multiple properties of an instance of a class, then ask it to do something with a method. These sound very technical, but in reality a class module uses a property Let procedure to merely remember a value in a variable. And a method is really just a procedure that does something similar to the Subs we've already covered. The best way to show how class modules work is with a simple example.
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