Have you used the Microsoft Web Browser control in your Access 97 applications? This ActiveX control, which is automatically copied to your machine when you install Internet Explorer 3.0, is intriguing. Plunk it into an Access 97 form and you have an instant "Internet Explorer in a Box." The toughest part of using this control is finding its help file. The help file, by the way, isn't included with Internet Explorer but you can find a copy on the Office 97 CD, in the \ValuPack\Access\Webhelp\Iexplore.hlp folder. If you can't find your Office CD, download it from http://www.microsoft.com/intdev/sdk/docs/iexplore/default.htm.
The control lets you create your own Web browser within the confines of an Access form. The help file helps to document the control's many properties, methods, and events. The control -- just like Internet Explorer itself -- hosts Microsoft's ActiveX documents in addition to regular old HTML pages. This means that with very little coding, you can create an Access form that lets you view and edit Word documents using a Web browser-like interface. Can you say "quick and dirty document management system"?
As always, we have another great set of articles in this issue. Starting us off, Michael Kaplan and contributing editor Ken Getz show us how to call the 32-bit Windows network APIs from VBA. Microsoft technical writer David Shank introduces us to CommandBars -- Access (and Office) 97's fully programmable replacement for the brain-dead menus and toolbars that we've all grown to hate. Unfortunately, CommandBars can be a bit confusing to use -- that's why I asked David to help explain them in this first of a two-part series on the subject. Speaking of series, Smart Access regular Peter Vogel this month starts a new column called Working SQL. In this column, which should last for about half a year, Peter shares his insights into this relational database lingua franca. If you aren't as comfortable with SQL as you'd like to be, check this column out. Finally, Ken Getz, attacks a common problem -- getting a list of directories -- in his "Access Answers" column. You might be surprised to find out that generating a list of directories is much harder than you'd think.