Alison Balter's Mastering Microsoft Office Access 2003

Alison Balter  
Sams Publishing
Total pages
December 2003
Related Titles

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Alison Balter's Mastering Microsoft Office Access 2003
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Appropriate for every course in database development utilizing Microsoft Office Access 2003.

In this book, world-renowned Access trainer Alison Balter teaches students every facet of Microsoft Office Access 2003 database development. Balter brings her exceptional solutions-oriented approach to the entire database development lifecycle: planning, coding, security, deployment, and maintenance. Simply and clearly, she introduces an extraordinary array of techniques for developing Access applications in any environment -- including challenging multi-user, enterprise, and Web environments. One step at a time, Balter reviews the fundamentals of Office Access 2003 from the developers standpoint; introduces the fundamentals of Visual Basic for Applications; and presents increasingly advanced techniques for everything from external data access to leveraging the Windows API. The book contains an entire section on building more robust applications, with detailed coverage of error handling, debugging, and optimization. To help students achieve hands-on mastery, Balter also presents many hands-on development exercises, utilizing files, databases, and applications that can be found on the accompanying CD-ROM.


  • NEW - Fully updated to reflect the latest features and capabilities in Microsoft Office Access 2003.
    • Teaches students techniques they will be able to utilize for many years to come.

  • Broad coverage of Microsoft Office Access 2003 development fundamentals-Systematically covers everything database developers need to know about relationships, tables, queries, forms, and reports.
    • Provides a firm foundation in the key concepts and techniques students will constantly rely upon regardless of the databases they use or the applications they develop.

  • Thorough coverage of Visual Basic for Applications for database development-Covers everything from basic objects, properties, methods, and events to advanced query techniques, class modules, and data access with both ADO and DAO.
    • Shows students how to make the most of VBA to build virtually any database application in virtually any business environment.

  • Start-to-finish strategies for developing multi-user and enterprise applications-Covers all key facets of multi-user and enterprise development, including a full chapter on integrating external corporate data.
    • Helps students master the specific techniques needed to succeed as database developers in enterprise environments.

  • Extensive coverage of advanced development techniques-Covers wizards, ActiveX controls, libraries, and even exploiting the power of the Windows API.
    • Helps students go beyond the basics to leverage the full power of Microsoft Office Access 2003.

  • Coverage of the entire application lifecycle-Covers planning, security, documentation, maintenance, and distribution.
    • Goes beyond coding to cover every facet of planning, deploying, and maintaining Access applications.

  • Includes hands-on development exercises-Includes practice exercises and files that can easily be tailored to the needs of specific courses and instructors.
    • Provides constant feedback and reinforcement to ensure that students understand the material they are learning.

  • Extensive coverage of building more robust and reliable applications-Covers a wide range of application debugging, error handling, and optimization techniques.
    • Shows students how to build production-quality applications that will meet the highest professional standards.

  • CD-ROM containing extensive resources for Microsoft Office Access 2003 developers-Includes all source code from the book, sample databases, and complete applications.
    • Gives students all the files they need to develop powerful applications with Microsoft Office Access 2003.

  • By legendary Microsoft Access expert and trainer Alison Balter-Authored by an expert who has helped millions of students and professionals master Microsoft Access through her books, videos, and live training sessions.
    • Gives students confidence that they are receiving information that is thorough, accurate, clear, and useful-and reflects the challenges they will actually face.

New to this Edition

  • Fully updated to reflect the latest features and capabilities in Microsoft Office Access 2003.
    • Teaches students techniques they will be able to utilize for many years to come.

Table of Contents



1. Access As a Development Tool.

Why This Part Is Important. What Types of Applications Can You Develop in Access? Access As a Scalable Product. What Exactly Is a Database? Getting to Know the Database Objects. Object Naming Conventions. Hardware Requirements. How Do I Get Started Developing an Access Application? What's New in Access 2002 and 2003? Practical Examples: The Application Design for a Computer Consulting Firm. Summary.

2. What Every Developer Needs to Know About Databases and Tables.

Why This Part Is Important. Creating a New Database. Building a New Table. Selecting the Appropriate Field Type for Your Data. Working with Field Properties. The All-Important Primary Key. Working with the Lookup Feature. Working with Table Properties. Using Indexes to Improve Performance. Access Tables and the Internet. Adding Smart Tags to Your Tables. Creating a Pivot Table or Pivot Chart from a Table. Viewing Object Dependencies. Database Specifications and Limitations. Table Specifications and Limitations. Practical Examples: Designing the Tables Needed for a Computer Consulting. Firm's Time and Billing Application. Summary.

3. Relationships: Your Key to Data Integrity.

Why This Part Is Important. Introduction to Relational Database Design. Establishing Relationships in Access. Establishing Referential Integrity. Looking at the Benefits of Relationships. Examining Indexes and Relationships. Practical Examples: Establishing the Relationships Between the Tables Included in the Time and Billing Database. Summary.

4. What Every Developer Needs to Know About Query Basics.

Why This Part Is Important. What Is a Query, and When Should You Use One? Everything You Need to Know About Query Basics. Ordering Your Query Result. Refining Your Query with Criteria. Working with Dates in Criteria. Understanding How You Can Update Query Results. Building Queries Based on Multiple Tables. Creating Calculated Fields. Getting Help from the Expression Builder. Summarizing Data with Totals Queries. Excluding Fields from the Output. Nulls and Query Results. Refining Your Queries with Field, Field List, and Query Properties. Building Parameter Queries When You Don't Know the Criteria at Design Time. Adding Smart Tags to Your Queries. Creating a Pivot Table or Pivot Chart from a Query. Query Specifications and Limitations. Practical Examples: Building Queries Needed by the Time and Billing. Application for a Computer Consulting Firm. Summary.

5. What Every Developer Needs to Know About Forms.

Why This Part Is Important. Uses of Forms. Anatomy of a Form. Creating a New Form. Working with the Form Design Window. Selecting the Correct Control for the Job. Control Morphing. Conditional Formatting. What Form Properties Are Available, and Why Should You Use Them? What Control Properties Are Available, and Why Should You Use Them? Bound, Unbound, and Calculated Controls. Using Expressions to Enhance Your Forms. The Command Button Wizards: Programming Without Typing. Building Forms Based on More Than One Table. Basing Forms on Queries: The Why and How. Access Forms and the Internet. Adding Smart Tags to Your Forms. Creating a Pivot Table or Pivot Chart from a Form. Form Specifications and Limitations. Practical Examples: Designing Forms for Your Application. Summary.

6. What Every Developer Needs to Know About Reports.

Why This Part Is Important. Types of Reports Available. Anatomy of a Report. Creating a New Report. Working with the Report Design Window. Selecting the Correct Control for the Job. What Report Properties Are Available and Why Use Them? What Control Properties Are Available and Why Use Them? Inserting Page Breaks. Unbound, Bound, and Calculated Controls. Using Expressions to Enhance Your Reports. Building Reports Based on More Than One Table. Working with Sorting and Grouping. Improving Performance and Reusability by Basing Reports on Stored Queries or Embedded SQL Statements. Access Reports and the Internet. Report Specifications and Limitations. Practical Examples: Building Reports Needed for Your Application. Summary.

7. VBA: An Introduction.

Why This Part Is Important. VBA Explained. What Are Access Class Modules, Standard Modules, Form Modules, and Report Modules? Working with Variables. Adding Comments to Your Code. Using the Line Continuation Character. Using the VBA Control Structures. Passing Parameters and Returning Values. Executing Procedures from the Module Window. The DoCmd Object: Performing Macro Actions. Working with Built-In Functions. Working with Constants. Tools for Working in the Visual Basic Editor. Customizing the VBE. Practical Examples: Event Routines, User-Defined Functions, and Subroutines. Summary.

8. Objects, Properties, Methods, and Events Explained.

Why This Part Is Important. Understanding Objects, Properties, Events, and Methods. Using the Object Browser to Learn About Access's Objects. Referring to Objects. Properties and Methods Made Easy. Declaring and Assigning Object Variables. Understanding the Differences Between Objects and Collections. Passing Objects to Subroutines and Functions. Determining the Type of a Control. Special Properties That Refer to Objects. Understanding Access's Object Model. Properties Introduced with Access 2002 and Access 2003. Practical Examples: Working with Objects. Summary.

9. Advanced Form Techniques.

Why This Part Is Important. What Are the Form Events, and When Do You Use Them? What Are the Section and Control Events, and When Do You Use Them? Referring to Me. What Types of Forms Can I Create, and When Are They Appropriate? Using Built-In Dialog Boxes. Adding Custom Menus, Toolbars, and Shortcut Menus to Your Forms. Taking Advantage of Built-In, Form-Filtering Features. Including Objects from Other Applications: Linking Versus Embedding OpenArgs. Switching a Form's RecordSource. Power Combo Box and List Box Techniques. Power Subform Techniques. Automatic Error Checking. Viewing Object Dependencies. AutoCorrect Options. Propagating Field Properties. Windows XP Theme Support. Synchronizing a Form with Its Underlying Recordset. Creating Custom Properties and Methods. Practical Examples: Applying Advanced Techniques to Your Application. Summary.

10. Advanced Report Techniques.

Why This Part Is Important. Events Available for Reports, and When to Use Them. Order of Events for Reports. Events Available for Report Sections, and When to Use Them. Programmatically Manipulating Report Sections. Special Report Properties. Controlling the Printer. Viewing Object Dependencies. Automatic Error Checking. Propagating Field Properties. Practical Applications of Report Events and Properties. Practical Examples: Practicing What You Learned. Summary.

11. Advanced Query Techniques.

Why This Part Is Important. Action Queries. Special Query Properties. Optimizing Queries. Crosstab Queries. Outer Joins. Self Joins. Understanding SQL. Union Queries. Pass-Through Queries. The Propagation of Nulls and Query Results. Subqueries. Using SQL to Update Data. Using SQL for Data Definition. Using the Result of a Function as the Criteria for a Query. Passing Parameter Query Values from a Form. Jet 4.0 ANSI-92 Extensions. Practical Examples: Applying These Techniques in Your Application. Summary.

12. Advanced VBA Techniques.

Why This Part Is Important. What Are User-Defined Types, and Why Would You Use Them? Working with Constants. Working with Arrays. Advanced Function Techniques. Working with Empty and Null. Creating and Working with Custom Collections. Low-Level File Handling. Understanding and Effectively Using Compilation Options. Importing and Exporting Code Modules. Working with Project Properties. Practical Examples: Putting Advanced Techniques to Use. Summary.

13. Exploiting the Power of Class Modules.

Why This Part Is Important. Object OrientationAn Introduction. Creating and Using a Class Module. Setting Values with Property Set. Creating Multiple Class Instances. The Initialize and Terminate Events. Working with Enumerated Types. Building Hierarchies of Classes. Adding a Parent Property to Classes. The Implements Keyword. Working with Custom Collections. Adding Your Own Events. Practical Examples: Class Modules. Summary.

14. What Are ActiveX Data Objects and Data Access Objects, and Why Are They Important?

Why This Part Is Important. Using ADO Versus DAO. Examining the ADO Model. Understanding ADO Recordset Types. Working with ADO Recordset Properties and Methods. Modifying Table Data Using ADO Code. Creating and Modifying Database Objects Using ADO Code. Examining the DAO Model. Getting to Know DBEngine. Using CurrentDB(). Understanding DAO Recordset Types Selecting Among the Types of DAO Recordset Objects Available. Working with DAO Recordset Properties and Methods. Modifying Table Data Using DAO Code. Creating and Modifying Database Objects Using DAO Code. Using the DAO Containers Collection. Practical Examples: Applying These Techniques to Your Application. Summary.


15. Debugging: Your Key to Successful Development.

Why This Part Is Important. Avoiding Bugs. Harnessing the Power of the Immediate Window. Invoking the Debugger. Using Breakpoints to Troubleshoot. Stepping Through Code. Setting the Next Statement to Execute. Using the Call Stack Window. Working with the Locals Window. Working with Watch Expressions. Continuing Execution After a Runtime Error. Looking At Gotchas with the Immediate Window. Using Assertions. Debugging Tips. Practical Examples: Debugging Real Applications. Summary.

16. Error Handling: Preparing for the Inevitable.

Why This Part Is Important. Implementing Error Handling. Using On Error Statements. Using Resume Statements. Clearing an Error. Examining the Cascading Error Effect. Using the Err Object. Raising an Error. Using the Errors Collection. Creating a Generic Error Handler. Preventing Your Own Error Handling from Being Invoked. Creating a Call Stack. Building a Custom Error Handler Class. Working with Error Events. Creating a List of Error Codes and Descriptions. Practical Examples: Incorporating Error Handling. Summary.

17. Optimizing Your Application.

Why This Part Is Important. Introducing Optimization. Modifying Hardware and Software Configurations. Features Built Into Jet 3.5. Understanding What Jet 4.0 Does to Improve Performance. Letting the Performance Analyzer Determine Problem Areas. Designing Tables to Optimize Performance. Optimizing the Performance of Your Queries. Making Coding Changes to Improve Performance. Designing Forms and Reports to Improve Performance. Practical Examples: Improving the Performance of Your Applications. Summary.


18. A Strategy to Developing Access Applications.

Why This Part Is Important. Splitting Databases into Tables and Other Objects. Basing Forms and Reports on Queries or Embedded SQL Statements. Understanding the Access Runtime Engine. Using an EXE Versus Access Database: What It Means to You. Understanding the Importance of Securing Your Database. Using Access as a Front End. Practical Examples: Applying the Strategy to the Computer Consulting Firm Application. Summary.

19. Using External Data.

Why This Part Is Important. Importing, Linking, and Opening Files: When and Why. Importing External Data. Creating a Link to External Data. Opening an External Table. Understanding Windows Registry Settings. Using the Jet OLEDB:Link Provider String. Working with Passwords. Refreshing and Removing Links. Sharing Data with SharePoint Team Services. Looking at Special Considerations. Troubleshooting Looking at Performance Considerations and Links. Working with HTML Documents. Practical Examples: Working with External Data from within Your Application. Summary.

20. Developing Multiuser and Enterprise Applications.

Why This Part Is Important. Designing Your Application with Multiuser Issues in Mind. Understanding Access's Locking Mechanisms. Understanding the Client/Server Model. Deciding Whether to Use the Client/Server Model. The Roles Access Plays in the Application Design Model. Learning the Client/Server Buzzwords. Upsizing: What to Worry About. Proactively Preparing for Upsizing. An Introduction to Transaction Processing. Understanding the Benefits of Transaction Processing. Modifying the Default Behavior of Transaction Processing. Implementing Explicit Transaction Processing. Introduction to Replication. Uses of Replication. Understanding When Replication Isn't Appropriate. Understanding the Implementation of Replication. Practical Examples: Getting Your Application Ready for an Enterprise. Environment. Summary.


21. Using ActiveX Controls.

Why This Part Is Important. Incorporating ActiveX Controls in Access 2003. Setting Properties of an ActiveX Control at Design Time. Coding Events of an ActiveX Control. Using the Calendar Control. Using the UpDown Control. Using the StatusBar Control. Using the Common Dialog Control. Using the Rich Textbox Control. Using the TabStrip Control. Using the ImageList Control. Licensing and Distribution Issues. Practical Examples: Implementing ActiveX Controls. Summary.

22. Automation: Communicating with Other Applications.

Why This Part Is Important. Defining Some Automation Terms. Declaring an Object Variable to Reference Your Application. Creating an Automation Object. Manipulating an Automation Object. Early Binding Versus Late Binding. Controlling Excel from Access. Closing an Excel Automation Object. Creating a Graph from Access. Controlling Word from Access. Controlling PowerPoint from Access. Automating Outlook from Access. Controlling Access from Other Applications. Practical Examples: Using Automation to Extend the Functionality of Your Applications. Summary.

23. Exploiting the Power of the Windows API.

Why This Part Is Important. Declaring an External Function to the Compiler. Working with Constants and Types. Calling DLL Functions: Important Issues. Using API Functions. Practical Examples: Using Windows API Functions in Your Applications. Summary.

24. Creating Your Own Libraries.

Why This Part Is Important. Preparing a Database to Be a Library. Creating a Reference. Debugging a Library Database. Securing an Access Library. Practical Examples: Building a Library for Your Application. Summary.

25. Using Builders, Wizards, and Menu Add-Ins.

Why This Part Is Important. Using Builders. Using Wizards. Using Menu Add-Ins. Practical Examples: Designing Your Own Add-Ins. Summary.

26. An Introduction to Access and the Internet/Intranet.

Why This Part Is Important. Saving Database Objects as HTML. Linking to HTML Files. Importing HTML Files. Understanding Data Access Pages. Creating Data Access Pages. Modifying Important Properties of a Data Access Page. Modifying the Record Navigation Control Properties. Creating Grouped Data Access Pages. Augmenting Data Access Pages with VBScript. Practical Examples. Summary.


27. Database Security Made Easy.

Why This Part Is Important. Implementing Share-Level Security: Establishing a Database. Password. Encrypting a Database. Establishing User-Level Security. Securing VBA Code with a Password. Providing an Additional Level of Security: Creating an MDE. Securing a Database Without Requiring Users to Log On. Looking at Special Issues. Practical Examples: Securing a Copy of the Northwind Database. Summary.

28. Advanced Security Techniques.

Why This Part Is Important. Using Code to Maintain Groups. Using Code to Maintain Users. Listing All Groups and Users. Working with Passwords. Assigning and Revoking Permissions to Objects Using Code. Encrypting a Database Using Code. Accomplishing Field-Level Security Using Queries. Prohibiting Users and Groups from Creating Objects. Accomplishing Prohibited Tasks by Logging On as a Different User. Securing Client/Server Applications. Security and Replication. Implementing Security with SQL. DAO and Security. Choosing Between ADOX, SQL, and DAO. Practical Examples: Applying Advanced Techniques to Your Application. Summary.

29. Documenting Your Application.

Why This Part Is Important Preparing Your Application to Be Self-Documenting. Using the Database Documenter. The Object Dependency Feature. Writing Code to Create Your Own Documentation. Practical Examples: Applying What You Learned. Summary.

30. Maintaining Your Application.

Why This Part Is Important. Compacting Your Database. Backing Up Your Database. Converting an Access Database. Detecting Broken References. Practical Examples: Maintaining Your Application. Summary.

31. Third-Party Tools That Can Help You Get Your Job Done Effectively.

Why This Part Is Important. Total Visual CodeTools. Total Access Analyzer. Total Access Emailer. Total Visual Agent. Total Access Startup. Total Access Components. Total Access Memo. Total Access Statistics. Total Access Detective. Total Visual SourceBook. Total Access Speller. Total Access Admin. Solutions::Explorer. Component Toolbox OCX. Solutions::Schedule. Solutions::PIM Professional. Practical Examples: Using Third-Party Tools with Your Applications. Summary.

32. Distributing Your Application.

Why This Part Is Important. Introducing the Packaging Wizard. Loading the Packaging Wizard Add-In. Distributing Your Application to Run with a Full Copy of Access. Using Full Versions Versus Runtime Versions of Access. Preparing Your Database for Use with the Access Runtime Version. Looking at Other Issues. Practical Examples: Distributing Your Applications. Summary.


Appendix A. Table Structures.

The tblClients Table. The tblClientAddresses Table. The tblAddressTypes Table. The tblClientPhones Table. The tblPhoneTypes Table. The tblCorrespondence Table. The tblCorrespondenceTypes Table. The tblTerms Table. The tblContactTypes Table. The tblCompanyInfo Table. The tblEmployees Table. The tblErrorLog Table. The tblErrors Table. The tblExpenseCodes Tables. The tblPaymentMethods Table. The tblPayments Table. The tblProjects Table. The tblTimeCardExpenses Table. The tblTimeCardHours Table. The tblTimeCards Table. The tblWorkCodes Table.

Appendix B. Naming Conventions.

Back Cover

What Alison┬┐s book offers over other books in that she is able to take a highly technical topic and present it in a manner that is easy to comprehend. It is a book that the reader will often want to read from cover to cover, but it can also act as an excellent reference. Readers of this book will learn:

  • Access 11 application development and real-world solutions to specific development and programming problems.
  • Professional programming techniques backed by concise, no-nonsense explanations of the underlying theories.
  • Debugging and troubleshooting methods to solve problems quickly and get stalled development projects back on track.


Alison Balter is the president of InfoTechnology Partners, Inc., a computer consulting firm based in the rural Santa Rosa Valley Area, close to Camarillo, California. Alison is a highly experienced independent trainer and consultant specializing in Windows applications training and development. During her 19 years in the computer industry, she has trained and consulted with many corporations and government agencies. Since Alison founded InfoTechnology Partners, Inc. (formerly Marina Consulting Group) in 1990, its client base has expanded to include major corporations and government agencies such as Shell Oil, Accenture, Northrop, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Prudential Insurance, Transamerica Insurance, Fox Broadcasting, the U.S. Navy, and others.

InfoTechnology Partners, Inc., is a Microsoft Certified Partner, and Alison is a Microsoft Certified Professional. Alison was one of the first professionals in the computer industry to become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer.

Alison is a partner in the multimedia training company Blast Through Learning, Inc., and is the author of more than 300 internationally marketed computer training videos and CD-ROMs, including 18 Access 2000 videos, 35 Access 2002 videos, and 15 Access 2003 videos. These videos and CD-ROMs are available by contacting Alison's company, InfoTechnology Partners, Inc. Alison travels throughout North America, giving training seminars on Microsoft Access, Visual Studio .NET, Microsoft SQL Server, Visual Basic, and Visual Basic for Applications. She is also featured in several live satellite television broadcasts for National Technological University.

Alison is a regular contributing columnist for Access/Office/VB Advisor as well as other computer publications. She is also a regular on the Access, Visual Studio .NET, SQL Server, and Visual Basic national speaker circuits. She was one of four speakers on the Visual Basic 4.0 and 5.0 World Tours seminar series co-sponsored by Application Developers Training Company and Microsoft.

Alison is also the author of six other books published by Sams Publishing: Alison Balter's Mastering Access 95 Development, Alison Balter's Mastering Access 97 Development, Alison Balter's Mastering Access 2000 Development, Alison Balter's Mastering Access 2002 Desktop Development, Alison Balter's Mastering Access 2002 Enterprise Development, and Learning Office Access 2003 in 24 Hours. Alison is a coauthor of three Access books published by Sams Publishing: Essential Access 95, Access 95 Unleashed, and Access 97 Unleashed.

An active participant in many user groups and other organizations, Alison is a past president of the Independent Computer Consultants Association of Los Angeles and of the Los Angeles Clipper Users' Group.

On a personal note, Alison keeps herself busy horseback riding, skiing, ice skating, running, lifting weights, hiking, traveling, and dancing. She most enjoys spending time with her husband, Dan, their daughter, Alexis, their son, Brendan, and their golden retriever, Brandy.

Alison's firm, InfoTechnology Partners, Inc., is available for consulting work and on-site training in Microsoft Access, Visual Studio .NET, Visual Basic, and SQL Server, as well as for Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows 98, Windows XP, PC networking, and Microsoft Exchange Server. You can contact Alison by email at, or visit the InfoTechnology Partners Web site at