Deploying Complex Microsoft Office Access Runtime-Based Solutions
Frank C. Rice
Microsoft® Office Access 2003 Developer Extensions
Microsoft Office Access 2003
Summary: Learn how to use the Access 2003 Developer Extensions to create packaged Access solutions. With the Package Wizard, contained in the Access Developer Extensions, you can also include the Access 2003 runtime files in your solution. This article demonstrates creating a solution package and including the Access runtime. (6 printed pages)
One of the frequent tasks of many Microsoft® Access developers is distributing solutions they have created to clients. Doing this task is easier than ever by using the Microsoft Office Access 2003 Developer Extensions which contains a number of components to work with your Access solutions.
This article reviews the components of the Access Developer Extensions including the Package Wizard which you can use to create packaged Access solutions. It also demonstrates the steps to create a package including adding the Access runtime.
Note The Access Developer Extensions are included as part of Microsoft® Visual Studio® Tools for the Microsoft Office System. For more information about Visual Studio Tools for Office, see Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System on the Office Developer Center.
The Access Developer Extensions make bundling and deploying your Access applications as easy as possible. By combining the wizards and utilities with the Access runtime, the Access Developer Extensions provide everything necessary to generate professional installation packages for your customers. The following table describes the components of the Access Developer Extensions.
Table 1. Components of the Access Developer Extensions
|Access runtime||A redistributable, stand-alone Access runtime engine. The Access runtime is included with every edition of Microsoft Office 2003 that contains Microsoft Office Access 2003. When you purchase the Access Developer Extensions, you are granted a license to install unlimited copies of the Access runtime.|
|Package Wizard||Helps you to bundle and deploy Access database applications. The wizard guides you through the steps necessary to configure and package stand-alone Access applications and to include a royalty-free license for the Access runtime files. The output of the Package Wizard is a Microsoft Windows® Installer (.msi) setup file that guides users through the installation of your Access application.|
|Custom Startup Wizard||Quickly create .mde files with custom startup properties. These startup options allow you to control how your Access applications look and behave when they are opened.|
|Property Scanner||Search the collections, objects, and properties of a database for the occurrence of a particular term or value. This add-in allows you to target your searches precisely and to save your search criteria.|
In this article, we focus on deploying runtime solutions using the Package Wizard.
The Package Wizard provides a simple way to bundle and deploy Microsoft Access database applications. The wizard guides you through the steps necessary to bundle stand-alone Access applications into setup packages. You can use the Package Wizard to include the Access runtime in your packages and to create shortcuts that invoke the appropriate Access file. The output of the Package Wizard is a Microsoft Windows Installer (.msi) setup file that guides users through the installation of your Access application. The wizard is an Access database add-in that is available as part of the Access development extensions (ADE).
By creating a Microsoft Office Access application (.mdb, .mde, .adp, .ade) you can deploy the application to users who do not have Access installed by distributing the application with the Access runtime. The Access runtime is a version of Access in which the design-time features are disabled. The Access 2003 runtime is found in the Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 and Microsoft Office Access 2003 installation media. It comprises two files: ACCESSRT.MSI and ACCESSRT.CAB (the cabinet file is referred to as "OFF11.CAB" in the help documentation of Access 2003 Developer Extensions).
Using the Package Wizard, you can create an installation package for your users that includes the Access runtime. The Access runtime setup files are included in Access 2003 and in every edition of Microsoft Office 2003 that contains Access 2003. A license to distribute the Access runtime with your applications is included in the Access Developer Extensions.
To include the Access runtime in a package using the Packaging Wizard
To demonstrate using the Package Wizard, create a package using the Northwind sample database that comes with Access.
- To start the Package Wizard, click Start, point to Programs (or All Programs), point to Microsoft Office, point to Microsoft Office Access 2003 Developer Extensions, and then click Package Wizard.
- On the Welcome page, click Next.
- On the Package Wizard for the Microsoft Office Access 2003 Developer Extensions page, choose to use an existing template or use the wizard to create a customized template. Templates are .xml files that store the configuration settings from a prior use of the wizard. Before exiting the wizard, you are prompted to save the current wizard settings. Then, the next time you invoke the wizard and elect to use a saved template, the pages are pre-populated with values from the template. Leave the default option set to Create a new template. Click Next.
Figure 1. Package Wizard for the Microsoft Office Access 2003 Developer Extensions page (click picture to see larger image)
- On the Database to Package page, specify the database to package as well as the default location of the folder and subfolder on the end-user computer to which you want to distribute the solution.
- Specify to include the Access runtime as part of your solution.
- In the Output Options section, indicate the location on your computer to which the files created by the wizard are saved.
- Type the path and name of the Northwind database or browse to its location, and then click OK. In a typical installation, the Nortwind.mdb database is located at C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\Samples.
- Select the Include Access 2003 runtime check box. Leave the remaining fields set to the default options, and then click Next.
Figure 2. Database to Package page (click picture to see larger image)
- On the Shortcut Properties page, specify information about the shortcuts you want to appear on the end-user computer. Specify the location of the shortcut, the name to appear, and the icon to use. On this page, you can also select additional parameters that the database can use when it starts. Click Next.
Figure 3. Shortcut Properties page (click picture to view larger image)
- On the Other Files or Registry Keys to Install page, specify any additional files or registry keys required by your solution. You can also specify a help file and splash page to appear when your application is first opened. Click Next.
Figure 4. Other Files or Registry Keys to Install page (click picture to view larger image)
- On the Installer Experience page, specify some of the general properties of your solution such as the name and installation language.
Note You must cache the setup files in the Installation Language list before you can use them in your solution. The options in the Installation Language list are cached based on the existence of the following files:
If one or more of these files are missing, the language file is not cached. If available, you can locate these files in the following directory:
local_drive:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Desktop\ADE11\Templates
You can also specify the information that users see when they choose the custom installation option. You can specify the location of the End User License Agreement (EULA) to include with your application. The EULA must be in Rich Text Format (.rtf).
Finally, indicate what images, if any, appear while the application installs. Click Next.
Figure 5. Installer Experience page (click picture to view larger image)
- On the Installer Package Properties page, specify the information that appears on the Add or Remove Programs page in the Control Panel. For example, you may choose to include the URL to your support site or other support contact information. Next, specify the information that appears when the user right-clicks the setup (.msi) file and then clicks the Properties option. Click Next.
Figure 6. Installer Package Properties page (click picture to view larger image)
- On the Completing Your Installer Package page, save the settings you specified as a template for later use. You can also choose to create a batch file to run your setup file or install other files. Click Finish.
Figure 7. Completing Your Installer Package page (click picture to view larger image)
That's all you need to do to package up an Access solution with the Access runtime files.
In this article, we briefly looked at the components that make up the Access Developer Extensions. We also demonstrated the steps necessary to create an Access solution package as well as include the Access runtime. These components, including the Package Wizard, can make deploying and working with your Access solutions much easier.