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More News on Access 97

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Paul Litwin          
Office 97 and Access 97 were officially announced at the Access/Visual Basic Advisor Developer's Conference in early October. In a previous editorial, I was able to discuss the Internet features because Microsoft's non-disclosure agreement (NDA) was lifted for that area of Office 97. (One Internet component, The Publish to the Web wizard, is the focus of this month's lead article, "Publish on the Web with Access 97," by Michael Kaplan and Tamra Myers.) Now that the rest of the NDA has been lifted, I can fill you in on what to expect in the new release of Access and Office. By the way, we'll dedicate next month's issue to articles on the new features in Access 97!
Before we get into the details, it's worth talking about the scope and character of the changes. Access 97 is a relatively minor upgrade, especially compared to Access 95. This should be welcome news to developers who worry about such issues as stability and performance which usually suffer when major architectural changes are made. Think of Access 97 as more of a tuning release with lots of new Internet stuff thrown in for good measure.
Here, in no apparent order are some of the more interesting changes for developers:

The Modules object allows you to programmatically manipulate your modules. This includes support for adding, replacing, finding, and deleting lines of code.
Create your own objects using class modules (like in VB4).
The new CommandBar object allows you to create and manipulate menus and toolbars using code.
Partial replication allows you to create replicated subsets of tables.
You can now replicate databases over the Internet or an intranet.
Tables include a new Hyperlink data type. (The other Internet features were discussed in September's editorial so I won't mention them here.)
The RecordSetType property of queries allows you to specify that a query always returns a snapshot.
Queries against ODBC data sources will benefit from the new MaxRecords property that short circuits queries returning more than a fixed number of records.
Create a tabbed dialog using the native Tab control. This control is not an ActiveX/OLE control, so it's fast, efficient, and supports containership.
When typing VBA code, you can have Access display a list of functions, methods, and properties to choose from to complete the current word. This feature will save a lot of typing!
Display the current value of a variable or an expression while code is suspended by moving the mouse over the variable or expression.
Drag and drop lines of code in the VBA editor.
Remove editable VBA code and protect the design of forms, reports, and modules by saving your database in a special new MDE format.
Access now supports ODBC-Direct, which lets you access server databases without loading the Jet engine.
Microsoft has made several changes to Access that allow you to use it with Visual SourceSafe and other source code control systems.

These are just some of the new features in Access 97. As we went to press it appeared that the ship date has slipped from the fourth quarter of 1996 to the first quarter of 1997. It's still anyone's guess at this point.
A final note: We recently noticed a flaw in our e-mail system that resulted in some of your messages to us getting lost between the cracks. For this we apologize and promise that we will always listen to what you have to say and will do our best to respond in a timely manner.


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