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Novice question: how to make changes in an Access database

P: n/a
Hello,

The title doesn't completely cover the question I have, but it's a bit more
complicated problem we have.

We are using a database, based on Acces, but developed by a third party
developer who sells it under his own name. So, functionally it's a very
specific database for a specific purpose.

Now we want to make certain changes in this database, but for reasons of
security we are unable to allow this developer to get hold of the
information in our database.

We need to make changes both in our database file and in the database
itself.

Now the question is, what kind of program does one need to make programmatic
changes in an Access database and can anyone who has this program make those
changes?

This developer told me once he had bought a developers license from
Microsoft, and got some kind of source-code necessary to be able to build up
a database for our specific needs.

Since I know little about what's behind the interface, I really do hope that
any of you is willing to explain how this works.

Thanks on beforehand!
Ronald Werner
Norway

(P.S. if you wonder why I don't ask him? I don't trust him. He would love to
get hold of the information in our database. He has stolen information in
databases earlier.)
Nov 13 '05 #1
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6 Replies


P: n/a
Hi Ronald,

The developer is probably referring to ODE Tools (Office Development
Environment). This provides you with tools that allow you to make an
installation CD or network install and distribute an Access Database
Application.

If you look at the database files, I would presume that you have a minimum
of two databases files. One probably ends with an extension of .MDE.
Microsoft Database Executable. The other will more than likely be a .MDB
that contans your tables. Typically, the MDE file is the program code that
is compiled, in other words, you can't change it. The Forms, Reports, and
Modules are basically locked in an MDE. The Forms, Reports and Modules core
of the application code. The developer's intellectual property is in the
Forms / Reports / Modules. You can modify Tables / Macros / and Queries,
but I don't recommend it, as you could break something which could be
devastating.

At this point you are pretty much dependent on the developer as far as legal
means of modifying the Access Application.

Hope this helps!

Barry


"ronwer" <ro****@tiscali.no> wrote in message
news:ci********************@news000.worldonline.dk ...
Hello,

The title doesn't completely cover the question I have, but it's a bit
more
complicated problem we have.

We are using a database, based on Acces, but developed by a third party
developer who sells it under his own name. So, functionally it's a very
specific database for a specific purpose.

Now we want to make certain changes in this database, but for reasons of
security we are unable to allow this developer to get hold of the
information in our database.

We need to make changes both in our database file and in the database
itself.

Now the question is, what kind of program does one need to make
programmatic
changes in an Access database and can anyone who has this program make
those
changes?

This developer told me once he had bought a developers license from
Microsoft, and got some kind of source-code necessary to be able to build
up
a database for our specific needs.

Since I know little about what's behind the interface, I really do hope
that
any of you is willing to explain how this works.

Thanks on beforehand!
Ronald Werner
Norway

(P.S. if you wonder why I don't ask him? I don't trust him. He would love
to
get hold of the information in our database. He has stolen information in
databases earlier.)

Nov 13 '05 #2

P: n/a
Hi Barry,

Yes, many thanks. This makes things much clearer. I am not worried about
intellectual property, since this developer has both let us down by not
sending the annual updates the last two years, plus he was paid to do a job
which he only did partly.

But you are right, it sounds very risky to just start changing things,
whithout the proper expertice. We are considering hiring someone to
implement the necessary changes, but we need to know exactly how these
things work.

However, do you imply that the key to open the MDE-file is an unique one,
only known to the developer who paid for the Microsoft license, or is it a
more general key which follows with ODE tools?

And what level of programming do I have to think about? The kind of
wysiwyg-editing like in Frontpage, or really writing programlines in some
kind of abstract programming-language?

I understand it's impossible to say in general how long making changes in a
database would take, but let's say that in a form I want to add an extra
field in which I can show a thumbnail-picture, linking it to a larger sized
picture which opens by clicking either the thumbnail or some kind of button
underneath. We have about 6000 objects registered in our database and a
picture would greatly add to the value of the database. Right now we have to
carefully read the description to understand which of the object this is, in
most cases not being able to be sure that it is actually exactly this or
that one.

Are you able to give an estimation how difficult such a change would be and
how long it would take (minutes/hours/days)?

Again, many thanks for your help!

Greetings from a cold and snowy Norway,

Ronald Werner
(P.S. don't ask me to tell you what kind of objects, if you are curious and
want to know I'll tell you personally)
Nov 13 '05 #3

P: n/a

"ronwer" <ro****@tiscali.no> wrote in message
news:hI********************@news000.worldonline.dk ...
Hi Barry,

Yes, many thanks. This makes things much clearer. I am not worried about
intellectual property, since this developer has both let us down by not
sending the annual updates the last two years, plus he was paid to do a
job
which he only did partly.

But you are right, it sounds very risky to just start changing things,
whithout the proper expertice. We are considering hiring someone to
implement the necessary changes, but we need to know exactly how these
things work.

However, do you imply that the key to open the MDE-file is an unique one,
only known to the developer who paid for the Microsoft license, or is it a
more general key which follows with ODE tools?
Well, two things.

First, there is no key to open the MDE. The developer creates the MDE from
the application he originally created. Without his original MDB file, you
will not be able to change the database.

Second, you might actually have the mdb file. Do this, take a look at the
shortcut to the database and print it out here. That way, we can see exactly
what you're dealing with.


And what level of programming do I have to think about? The kind of
wysiwyg-editing like in Frontpage, or really writing programlines in some
kind of abstract programming-language?
Assuming you have the MDB, you need Microsoft Access. A lot can be done in
Access with wysiwyg-type stuff, but there is also a programming language
behind it that is pretty powerful, complex and very specialized.
I understand it's impossible to say in general how long making changes in
a
database would take, but let's say that in a form I want to add an extra
field in which I can show a thumbnail-picture, linking it to a larger
sized
picture which opens by clicking either the thumbnail or some kind of
button
underneath. We have about 6000 objects registered in our database and a
picture would greatly add to the value of the database. Right now we have
to
carefully read the description to understand which of the object this is,
in
most cases not being able to be sure that it is actually exactly this or
that one.
It sounds simple enough. One would have to figure out how and where to add
the control. There is some code involved to store the picture on the server
(you don't want to store the picture in the database). Based on your
description, I'd say somebody should be able to get in, get the work done
and get out in a couple hours.

Greetings from a cold and snowy Norway,
Sorry to hear its cold and snowy out there. I'd better not tell you how the
weather is here.

dt
(P.S. don't ask me to tell you what kind of objects, if you are curious
and
want to know I'll tell you personally)


P.S. I bet I can guess.
Nov 13 '05 #4

P: n/a
If you like the developer's work, but want to keep your data secure,
consider making a copy of the database using a different name like
MyDatabaseEmpty, empty the data, then replace with a little bit of test
data, representative of what would likely be there. It is important to
have some data there for controls to work correctly, but it need not be
'real' data.

To empty each table, just click in the little square in the upper left of
the table. This selects the whole thing. Then hit the delete key. MAKE
SURE IT IS THE COPY DATABASE FIRST!

The tricky part comes in emptying the tables in the correct order, if
there are more than one, because they may be dependant on each other. If
you have access to the relationships or have documentation on them, this
will help.

Better yet, get your developer to create the shell for you. Tell him how
you feel about your data, that you are protective of it. He will need data
only to make sure that everything you want is functioning the way you want
it. But it will not matter to him if the data is real or accurate. It
needs to be 'like' the kind of data you use, but it does not need to be
your corporate data.

Another way to get empty tables in a copied database is to copy and paste
the tables, using the right click button on the mouse, giving each table a
new name and selecting to copy the table structure but not the data. Then
delete the origional tables and rename the new empty ones with the old
names.

To do this, you have to have access to the "database window".

A final option for you is to copy the database and corupt the data of the
copy you give the developer. You may be able to delete much of it, then
just change the remaining data a little, to make sure it is unusable in
the real world. If you have names, swap them or mix them around. If you
have addresses, do the same. A developer does not care if the address says
Seattle or Paris, 14th Ave or 32nd ST. Just make sure that you have the
correct 'type' of data in each field. Do not swap a person's name with a
city name. A database may also be checking for valid entries, zip codes,
or specific codes which mean something internally. But it should tell you
if you try to do something invalid.
Nov 13 '05 #5

P: n/a
Even if you have the correct software, you may need to get the
"administrator" changed on the current database, to access developmental
changes. Once you copy the database, and name it clearly, like
MyExpirimentalCopy, it really does not matter if it gets messed up. You
still have the origional. Make all your changes first. Make sure it all
works correctly, before you begin to use it. It is much easier to keep the
origional data, than to try to put it back when development is complete.
But to keep the origional in the experimental copy will mean that during
the development, new data will need to be entered twice, in the old and in
the experimental. This is good, as it will help you know if the new
version is working correctly. The questions you need to ask yourself are:

1. How much data needs to be double entered over the duration of
development?
2. How extensive are the changes to be made and thus extensiveness of
testing?
3. How long will development take? Keep in mind that an expert developer
will complete it faster than a novice.

Nov 13 '05 #6

P: n/a
Two items:

(1) The developer's copyright of his original work and the issues you
mention are separate items -- the issues are not likely to keep him from
suing for copyright violation. But, assuming the database is in MDE form,
that alone would prevent your changing Forms, Reports, and Modules -- all
likely to be things you'll need to modify.

(2) You always own your own data, so you should be able to retrieve it from
the tables (or perhaps copy the tables). A competent Access developer should
be able to re-create a database much faster than the original was developed.
On the other hand, a database developed just for you is likely to cost you
quite a bit more than licensing a copy of a database that the developer
licenses to multiple users.

Caveat: There are international provisions for copyright that apply only to
countries who signed the international copyright agreement; other provisions
may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
"ronwer" <ro****@tiscali.no> wrote in message
news:hI********************@news000.worldonline.dk ...
Hi Barry,

Yes, many thanks. This makes things much clearer. I am not worried about
intellectual property, since this developer has both let us down by not
sending the annual updates the last two years, plus he was paid to do a job which he only did partly.

But you are right, it sounds very risky to just start changing things,
whithout the proper expertice. We are considering hiring someone to
implement the necessary changes, but we need to know exactly how these
things work.

However, do you imply that the key to open the MDE-file is an unique one,
only known to the developer who paid for the Microsoft license, or is it a
more general key which follows with ODE tools?

And what level of programming do I have to think about? The kind of
wysiwyg-editing like in Frontpage, or really writing programlines in some
kind of abstract programming-language?

I understand it's impossible to say in general how long making changes in a database would take, but let's say that in a form I want to add an extra
field in which I can show a thumbnail-picture, linking it to a larger sized picture which opens by clicking either the thumbnail or some kind of button underneath. We have about 6000 objects registered in our database and a
picture would greatly add to the value of the database. Right now we have to carefully read the description to understand which of the object this is, in most cases not being able to be sure that it is actually exactly this or
that one.

Are you able to give an estimation how difficult such a change would be and how long it would take (minutes/hours/days)?

Again, many thanks for your help!

Greetings from a cold and snowy Norway,

Ronald Werner
(P.S. don't ask me to tell you what kind of objects, if you are curious and want to know I'll tell you personally)

Nov 13 '05 #7

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