Here’s a response to a question about the standards we implement for our Microsoft Access applications. These are some fundamentals for ensuring a solid foundation for professional Access solutions in priority with some resources related to them:
Split Database Design. Without this, it’s nearly impossible to enhance the database while others are changing the data.
Cleaning up VBA code. From code indentations to applying our variable naming conventions along with prefixes for global vs. module vs. procedure, and constants vs parameters vs. regular variable names. We use the Code Cleanup feature of Total Visual CodeTools to do this. Personally, without cleaning it up to our standards, I find it nearly impossible to get any work done while I’m struggling with someone else’s convention.
Setting up a development, testing and deployment process so changes can be implemented safely and efficiently. Lots of issues around this but having a fast, stable way to manage changes and how people launch the Access application is critical. We use our Total Access Startup program to help with this.
After these structures are in place, we’re ready to run Total Access Analyzer against the database to address the issues it finds wrong and could be improved in the application.
Microsoft Access Database Documentation and Analysis
300 Ways To Create Better Microsoft Access Applications
FMS is pleased to announce Total Access Analyzer 2010 is now shipping with support for both the 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Access 2010. Total Access Analyzer is the world’s most popular Microsoft Access product winning every Best Access Add-in Award since 1994. This is the tenth major release of Total Access Analyzer since its debut in 1992.
Comprehensive Microsoft Access Database Documentation
Total Access Analyzer examines each Microsoft Access database to provide detailed documentation of individual objects and their relationships to each other. Comprehensive code analysis of VBA module code and macros is also performed. A powerful search features lets you find any string across all the properties, macros, and modules. Over 375 presentation quality reports are available with a wide variety of customization, sorting, and filtering options.
Avoid Crashes Before You Ship
The popularity of Total Access Analyzer is its ability to help Access users and developers improve their applications, avoid errors that can cause their solutions to crash, and learn best practices to increase their skills. By using Total Access Analyzer to take over an existing application, during development, and before deployment as part of one’s quality assurance process, developers can avoid embarrassing mistakes and improve consistency and performance.
Most importantly, Total Access Analyzer detects 300 ways to avoid errors, apply best practices, and improve performance. By leveraging our years of experience and customer feedback, FMS has created the most powerful system for diagnosing Microsoft Access applications. For instance, Total Access Analyzer can detect broken references to tables, fields, forms, reports, macros, and VBA code that will cause the database to crash as soon as they’re encountered. It finds unused objects (tables, queries, forms, and reports), macros, classes, procedures, variables, constants, etc. to help developers get rid of unnecessary and old work.
Advanced analysis is also performed to detect inconsistent field definitions across tables, duplicate SQL definitions, macro command problems, etc. Multi-level object and code relationships are presented with three advanced hierarchical diagrams showing application flow, data flow, and object containership.
Microsoft Access users, developers, and consultants of all levels rely on Total Access Analyzer to deliver great solutions. “Total Access Analyzer is an amazing product that I’ve relied on and recommended for years,” said Sal Ricciardi Programming Writer for Microsoft Corporation. “It’s a huge time saver.”
Total Access Analyzer 2010 adds many enhancements in addition to supporting both 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Access 2010. Its VBA module code parser now supports the conditional compiler syntax (e.g. #If VBA7 Then) that’s common for supporting 32 and 64 bit environments. There’s advanced macro documentation and analysis that includes a “macro compiler” to validate if macro commands have the proper number of parameters. Improved views and reports simplify the review and printouts of macro lines scattered in embedded macros across the forms and reports. New temporary variable analysis documents and detects undefined and unused TempVars set by macros and modules. A variety of other new suggestions were added to detect timer event inconsistencies, query performance enhancement opportunities, and reserved word conflicts with the upcoming SQL Server 2012. With all the new features, Total Access Analyzer remains the most powerful diagnostic tool for Microsoft Access databases.
“Total Access Analyzer provides the comprehensive documentation and analysis that empowers Access users and developers to takeover existing Access applications and enhance them,” said Luke Chung, President and founder of FMS. “Total Access Analyzer offers a cost-effective way to understand what’s going on in a database, detect errors, improve quality, and learn Best Practices. It should be part of the quality assurance process during development and certainly before shipping. If it doesn’t pass Total Access Analyzer’s review, it’s not ready for deployment. It’s fundamental to our own Access development efforts.”
Availability and Pricing
Total Access Analyzer 2010 is available immediately from FMS for $299. Existing owners of Total Access Analyzer can upgrade for only $199. Total Access Analyzer is available via ESD and also comes with a professionally printed user manual and CD.
The Microsoft Access 2010 version of Total Access Analyzer is close to shipping and we are pleased to offer a FREE preview for you to try it.
Total Access Analyzer is the most popular Microsoft Access add-in and the winner of every Best Microsoft Access Add-in award ever. With Total Access Analyzer, you can truly understand what's going on in your database. Generate comprehensive documentation of all your database objects, get detailed table and field lists, module code printouts, form and report blueprints, and much more. Get detailed cross-references for how objects are linked to each other so you know exactly where each table, query, form, report, macro and module procedure is used. The Application Flow, Data Flow, and Object Flow Diagrams show how code and objects flow across your entire application. Over 300 professional quality and customizable reports are available.
Almost 300 types of issues are uncovered to pinpoint errors, suggest design improvement, and recommend performance tips. Find unused objects, missing field references, unused code and many other things that should be fixed before you deploy your applications. Many of the tips are recommended Best Practices for Access development, so you'll learn how the pros improve their design and development techniques.
We've added many new features to support Access 2010, generate more useful documentation, identify more errors, and suggest more design improvements and best practices. We've also improved the user experience with the ability to open a cross-referenced item in design mode while viewing the information, previewing multiple reports at once, and adding color to all reports. Here is a description of new features.
Take this opportunity to learn what Total Access Analyzer can do for you. See how it documents your databases and identifies errors and opportunities for improving them at the object and code levels. Discover why so many Access users and professionals rely on the program to deliver and create more robust solutions.
The preview version is available for immediate download and is fully functional. It expires on March 15, 2012.
Geoff Hollander of Northwest Database Services and the Portland Access User Group wrote a review of our Total Access Analyzer product. He provides a nice discussion of how it finds ways to improve his Access applications:
“I always thought that I was thorough about going through an application and cleaning up loose ends, but Total Access Analyzer proved: I was wrong and I probably won’t call another application complete until Total Access Analyzer gives it the OK.”
He also suggests how the documentation it generates and its reports are a business opportunity:
“Selling a documentation package generated by Total Access Analyzer for your application is a great way to add a training-free, trouble-free and reasonably priced profit center to the work you are already performing!….Total Access Analyzer is a solid product that any Access developer should have in their toolbox; and one that will pay for itself in short order.”
Many people deploy Microsoft Access database applications and neglect to provide the system administration necessary to properly support and maintain them over time. This becomes critical as the data it contains grows and becomes mission critical. Often, when something goes wrong, IT “professionals” are brought in to discover basic system administration are not in place. Rather than blaming the people involved, the Microsoft Access technology is considered at fault. We can do better.
Here’s a response I recently provided related to this issue:
Second, Access/Jet databases need to be periodically compacted to minimize corruption and bloat, and for optimal performance. The back-end database with the data is what needs to be compacted. You can do that manually. We created a commercial program, Total Visual Agent, that does it on a schedule with auditing and email notification if something goes wrong.
Third, if you are experiencing corruption after regular database maintenance, it’s often caused by a suspect connection/user who disconnects in an improper manner. That can be very difficult to detect and replicate. We have a commercial product, Total Access Admin, that monitors the people going in and out of an Access database, logs that activity, and flags the people who exit improperly. If it’s happening with the same person, there may be a hardware or network problem causing the corruption.
Finally, it may be possible that the corruption and performance problems are due to the front-end application. Bad code and techniques, corrupt objects, and other issues may be causing crashes and problems that lead to corruption. We address this in a few ways:
We implement global error handling that records crashes by users to text files so we have evidence of what failed. In addition to the procedure call stack, current procedure, error number and description, we also want the line number. Read our paper on Pinpointing the Exact Line Where a Crash Occurs in VB6 or VBA. This makes it significantly easier and quicker to reproduce and fix bugs.
Overall, it’s about having a solid and repeatable process and checklist in place that evolves over time as new experiences are encountered.
FMS President Luke Chung will be attending and speaking at the three day Microsoft Access conference sponsored by the Portland Oregon Access User Group. Join him and other guest speakers including Alison Balter from InfoTech Services Group Inc., Armen Stein from J Street Technology, and Kevin Bell from Microsoft.
Luke will be speaking on the following topics:
FMS Products for Microsoft Access Developers and How they Make You Money
Total Access Analyzer examines all your database objects to provide extensive documentation, cross-reference, and application and flow diagrams, with over 350 presentation-quality reports. It detects 280+ types of errors, suggestions, and performance tips, so you can learn and apply Best Practices to improve and speed up your Microsoft Access applications.
You can check for updates in most FMS products by using the built-in Update Wizard. From the Windows Start menu, select All Programs, FMS, Program Name, Update Wizard. Follow the wizard prompts to check for updates.
Our friend Alison Balter is a popular speaker, author, and trainer in the Microsoft Access community. She’s been a user and fan of our products for many years. In her Mastering Office Access 2003 book, she wrote a whole chapter on ThirdParty Tools That Can Help You Get Your Job Done Effectively, where she covered many of our Access related products:
Total Access Analyzer is the world's most popular Access product. We recently shipped the Access 2007 version, and are now pleased to provide versions X.8 for Microsoft Access 2003, 2002, and 2000. The new versions are a significant upgrade and let you create and maintain Access solutions better than ever. Enhancements include the detection of new suggestions and performance tips including duplicate SQL string analysis across queries, record sources, and row sources. There's also a redesigned user interface, new reports, one click opening of the current object in design mode when viewing documentation and search results, Vista support, and much more. Click here for a complete list of new features in version X.8. We hope you like the results!