As with most consultants, I work with a variety of tools. Access is certainly one of the most important tools in my kit, but it’s not the only one. I’ve found myself becoming a VB expert, as I’m sure most of you have also. As business turns to creating applications that run over the Internet, I’m also getting more and more experience with (and some understanding of) the technologies that are used in that environment. Compared to the sophisticated development environment that we take for granted in the Access world, the I*net world is a hodgepodge of neat technologies and awkward development tools. Sort of like working with Access’s HTML tools, only all the time.
I just finished designing and implementing an intranet application for one of Canada’s major banks. The application had to be in place in six weeks at sites all across Canada. Given the time available, the systems group felt that their only choice was to build an intranet application. I was brought in because the team had no experience in I*net development. Since the bank had standardized on Internet Explorer for the desktop, we were able to use all of Microsoft’s various technologies: Dynamic HTML, VBScript, Active Server Pages, and Remote Data Services. We brought all of these tools together through Visual InterDev. The application was up and running in six weeks (with just 10 days of my time: three for design, seven for coding some selected pages).
The number of people out there working with these tools is huge. According to Microsoft, a year ago there were already more than a quarter of a million developers worldwide using Active Server Pages. According to another report on Web application servers, Windows NT Server with Internet Information Server (IIS) is used by 42 percent of companies with Web application servers (compared to 15 percent using Netscape and 9 percent using IBM). In addition, Microsoft’s development environment for Web applications, Visual InterDev, quickly became the No. 1 Web tool for HTML and script-based development in its first release. The latest version is expected to dominate the Web development industry.
Internet development is an exciting area to work in, not the least because the tools are still developing and there are so many neat toys to work with. Pinnacle is launching a new publication called ActiveWeb Developer to support Web application developers, and we’ve enclosed that first issue with this month’s Smart Access. The editor of the new publication is Bill Hatfield, author of Active Server Pages for Dummies and Visual InterDev for Dummies and editor of Pinnacle’s own Delphi Developer newsletter. Bill’s mandate is to make ActiveWeb Developer "a conduit for developers who want to share their knowledge and experience with others in the Web development community." Bill’s focus is on the professional developer, concentrating on intermediate to advanced topics with real-world hints and tips on creating more powerful, user-friendly Web applications. Or, to put it another way: anything that will help ActiveWeb Developer readers be more effective. Topics that Bill is planning include Using COM Components with Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS), Really Cool Scripting Tricks, The Best Techniques for Database Access, and Java and COM: Portable Technologies?
Smart Access has done Access-related Internet development articles in the past and will continue to do them in the future. Those articles have been some of the most popular that we’ve done. If you’ve found them interesting, you’ll find ActiveWeb Developer right up your alley. You’ll also recognize some of the contributors to ActiveWeb Developer. I have an article on Remote Data Services in the first issue. Michael Corning, who did an article for us on XML, has contributed an article on XML Style Sheets to the newsletter.
As I said, this an exciting field to be working in. If you’re interested in learning about how to develop effectively with these tools, read the complimentary issue of ActiveWeb Developer that’s enclosed or surf over to the Pinnacle Web site at www.pinpub.com. I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed.