The Microsoft Office Access 2003 Developer Extensions are part of the Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System software package, and are not available as a separate download.
Licensing and Distribution Rights
The licensing agreements included with Access 2003 Developer Extensions simplify the distribution of solutions or code segments. They include a royalty-free Access Runtime, which allows for the distribution of Access solutions and Access Data Projects, and free use and distribution of portions of the tools source code as part of your solutions.
Easy Deployment of Solutions
Access 2003 Developer Extensions make it easy to deploy and manage solutions built using Access. New tools for packaging and deployment facilitate the process, while licensing and distribution agreements make it easier for developers to bring solutions to market, whether to a small business or a large enterprise, as a third-party or internal developer.
Access 2003 Developer Extensions include the Package Wizard that helps developers create professional setup routines for Access solutions. The wizard will automatically include the Access Runtime files, if selected, along with the Access solution files that make up the solution.
The resulting setup uses the Microsoft Windows-standard Windows Installer (MSI) for the installation routine and will automatically create shortcuts for the solution that use the appropriate Access EXE in cases where two different versions of Access are installed.
The setups created with the Package Wizard can be easily customized. The wizard generates a Windows Installer script that can be modified by anyone who is familiar with the scripting language. In addition, the MSI generated can also be customized by using any third-party tools that support Windows Installer files.
Access 2003 Developer Extensions provide a set of tools for Access solution developers that can reduce the amount of tedious work required in building Access solutions and streamline the production environment. The features described help reduce testing obstacles and produce higher-quality solutions.
Property Scanner Add-In
A common, tedious task when developing a solution can be the need to change the name of a feature or user-interface object that cascades throughout the solution. This requires looking at each module, form, and report created to find the offending string and rename it. With Access solutions that frequently contain many forms and reports, this process can be laborious and time-consuming.
With Access 2003 Developer Extensions, this task is greatly simplified through the use of the Property Scanner Add-In. This tool enables developers to search globally throughout the Access solution for custom strings. The tool searches all the properties or code in tables, queries, forms, reports, and modules—nearly all objects within Access will be searched. When the search is completed, the Property Scanner Add-In provides a search results list and enables the user to jump directly to the object in which the custom string was found.
Custom Startup Wizard
When you use a single Access solution to deploy Access solutions, developers typically create an MDE file, which is an Access solution (MDB file) that has been stripped of all source code. MDE files provide a secure solution that can then be distributed among one or more customers.
As part of this process, the developer sometimes needs to create multiple MDE versions of the solution, each with a different set of startup properties. This can be a monotonous process in Access, but with the Custom Startup Wizard in Access 2003 Developer Extensions the process is effortless. The developer simply needs to specify the original solution, the destination database, and the additional options and startup settings to be set.
When using a single Access solution to generate multiple MDE files that need to be tested and rebuilt repeatedly, the Custom Startup Wizard can greatly reduce the time required at the end of a development cycle.
Often, the best way to learn new coding techniques is to see the source code of shipping solutions. Access 2003 Developer Extensions include the complete source code for the tools included in the product, such as the Property Scanner Add-In, Custom Startup Wizard, and the Package Wizard. Each of these tools is written in Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), the primary language used to develop Access solutions. By including the source code, developers can see different coding techniques, such as how to write a solution that can be easily localized into multiple languages.
Developers can also create customized versions of these tools for their own benefit or to meet the needs of their enterprises. For example, the Custom Startup Wizard could be created so that it always creates an MDE file with the startup properties required by their enterprise.