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A Movable Feast

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Peter Vogel          
One of the benefits of being the editor of Smart Access is that you get to read a tremendous variety of great information. One of the great pleasures of being the editor of Smart Access is being able to pass it along to you. But it also makes me realize how much an Access developer has to keep track of in order to succeed.
This month's issue is a great example of why I love this job so much and why being an Access developer is so daunting. The articles range from technical discussions like George Esser's piece on handling attachments to application-oriented ones like Mark Davis's article on "query-based applications." We've got business-oriented pieces like David Irvine's introduction to EDI right beside Russell Sinclair's look at Access and the Windows API in his first crack at the Access Answers column. But that's only one side of the variety of material that we have to provide.
First and foremost, Smart Access is a newsletter to help you be more productive. After reading each issue of Smart Access, you should be able to create better applications with Microsoft Access. Sound simple? It turns out that making you more productive means a wide range of things.
For instance, Mark Davis's article shows a novel approach to building applications that lets him (and his department) deliver new data analysis packages quickly. Mark has found a technique that lets him sharply reduce the maintenance costs for these applications. Since maintenance costs are typically six times development costs, this is a significant savings. More importantly, as new applications are added to a company's inventory of systems, the maintenance burden on the Systems department increases. Eventually, a point is reached when no new systems can be added without an increase in head count. By holding down maintenance costs on new applications, Mark's group can deliver and support many more systems than departments that aren't using his techniques.
Making you more productive also means understanding more about how Access and Windows works. Russell Sinclair's exploration of setting Windows' default page size is a perfect example of that. Russell ends up leading you through the intricacies of the Windows API, showing off some features of VBA that you might not be aware of, and exploiting a property of Windows reports that I was completely unaware of.
Making you more productive means providing you with the tools to write better code faster. George Esser's article provides insight into attached tables, a set of routines for working with them, and a novel use for them based on his tools' ability to switch attached tables on the fly.
Finally, Access doesn't exist in a vacuum. Most of us build Access applications to meet some business need. When David Irvine wanted to show how to use Access in an EDI environment, we realized that we first had to provide you with the background on this business area. That led to Part 1 of a two-part series on using Access in EDI -- all the stuff you need to know before you sit down to write the code.
All of these articles are essential. I'm continually impressed with the variety of material that the successful Access developer must be aware of. In this month's issue, we "cover the waterfront" for you. Over several months, we'll also provide the depth that you need to succeed. Coming up in the next few issues are articles on using Access to create bar-coding applications, a three-part series on creating wizards, add-ins, and builders, and an in-depth look at Date/Time functions in Access (among other goodies).
For me, it's like Christmas every month -- and we're going to make it the same for you.
Upcoming events
In May, I'm going to be presenting at two conferences. From May 17-19, I'll be in Holland at the SDGN "Conference to the Max 98." From May 21-23, I'll be at the "Office DevCon" in Orlando, Florida. Both conferences look to be excellent resources for developers interested in getting the latest information on using Access. Many of our regular Access contributors will be at these conferences, including Paul Litwin, Andy Baron, and Mary Chipman. More importantly, if you're going to be there, look me up. There's nothing I get a bigger kick out of than a chance to talk to Smart Access readers and learn what you want and need.