This chapter dealt with exporting to, and importing from, a variety of file formats, ranging from the oldest formats to those so new that they are scarcely useful yet. Text files, both comma-delimited and fixed-width (columnar), have been used for data export and import since the earliest days of computers, and they are still very useful, especially the comma-delimited file format. Files exported to this format can be imported by a great many applications, which makes it very useful for exporting data that is to be imported by an application not directly supported as an Access export type. The reverse is also true: many applications can export their data to a fixed-width or comma-delimited file, from which they can be imported into Access tables.

If you have data in ancient dBASE, Paradox, or Lotus files, Access offers options for importing from these files, so you can get your old data into Access tables. Although it isn't likely to be required these days, you can also export data from Access tables to these legacy formats.

And finally, the new HTML and XML formats are supported — but not very well. These import and export types still have little utility for importing data into Access tables, either because they simply don't work or because they aren't really relevant. Hopefully, these file formats will be better supported for Access import and export in future versions of Office.

For a long time — really, since Office 97, when Outlook was introduced — I have wanted to write VBA code to synchronize Access contacts with Outlook contacts. My Access contacts are stored in a set of linked tables, with companies linked to contacts and contacts linked to addresses, phone numbers, and IDs of various sorts, which allows maximum flexibility for entering data and at the same time avoids having to enter the same data in multiple records. Outlook, on the other hand, has a very attractive and convenient interface for entering contact data, but unfortunately stores all contact data in a flat-file MAPI database, with a limited number of fields for addresses, phone numbers, and IDs.

Though it isn't difficult to write code to simply import data from Outlook to an Access table, or export data from an Access table to Outlook contacts, if the Access contacts are a set of linked tables, as they should be, the task is much more difficult — but not impossible. Live linking is out of the question, because of the difference in structure between a folder of Outlook contacts and a set of linked Access tables, but the contacts can be compared, and data copied from an Outlook contact to an Access contact (or vice versa), using an intermediary flat-file table filled with data from the linked Access tables. This chapter describes the technique I use to first denormalize Access data for comparison with Outlook contacts and then renormalize the updated data in order to write it back to the linked Access tables.

C rJ C -r> ^ S See the "Working with Outlook Contacts" section in ■SM^^fiHAli® Chapter 8 for information on exchanging data between a single Access contacts table and Outlook contacts.


Updating Outlook contacts from Access, and vice versa

Copying attachments from Outlook to Access, and vice versa

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