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Recommended Books: Microsoft Access

Here you will find my recommendations for books on Microsoft Access and database-related topics such as SQL, ADO and database design. But don't just take my word for it! You can follow the links to the online bookstore at Amazon.com (USA) or Amazon.co.uk (UK) where you will find more details and reader reviews.

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Microsoft Access Data Analysis

author: Michael Alexander
publisher: Wiley
ISBN: 0-7645-9978-X
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Collecting data is the easy bit! Making sense of it can often be a bit more difficult. Whilst Microsoft Excel is the established tool for crunching numbers it struggles with large volumes of data and when it comes to relating separate data sets Excel really isn't the place to be working. You need to be using an Access database. But where do you start? Answer... buy this book! You might already know the author from his DataPig Technologies web site. Michael Alexander explodes the myth that Access can't do data analysis and explains how to get the best from your data using Access queries, its built-in functions, and VBA. Excel users who find their data is outgrowing their spreadsheets will find lots of help and inspiration in this book. Both new and existing Access users will learn a lot from Michael Alexander's clear explanations of data analysis techniques and the many practical examples.

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SQL: Access to SQL Server

authors: Susan Sales Harkins & Martin Reid
publisher: Apress
ISBN: 1-8931-1530-5
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You can work with Access databases without ever knowing any SQL (SQL: Structured Query Language - the code behind all database queries and filters) but it is an easy language to learn and understanding SQL will be a significant addition to your database skills. I have only one book on SQL - this one. The first half of the book covers everything you will need to know about SQL in Microsoft Access in a comfortable, readable style suitable for all skill levels. The second half moves on to Microsoft SQL Server. Sooner or later most Access database builders find they need to interact with a server database (such as SQL Server) and this book provides an excellent and concise introduction to doing this with Microsoft Access. It explains the procedure for upgrading an Access database to SQL Server, and for using Access as a front end for a database hosted on SQL Server. There is a comprehensive reference to the T-SQL dialect used by this program. Whether you want to learn a bit of SQL to enhance your Access skills, or are considering upsizing your Access database to SQL Server and want to know what's involved, this book is an excellent introduction to the topic.

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Access 2002 Desktop Developer's Handbook

authors: Paul Litwin, Ken Getz & Mike Gunderloy
publisher: Sybex
ISBN: 0-7821-4009-2

This hefty volume is the ultimate programmer's reference for Microsoft Access VBA, packed with information and sample code on every aspect of Access VBA programming. It is the latest edition of a volume that has been produced by the same team of authors since Access 2 way back in the mists of time (1994) so what these guys don't know about Access VBA isn't really worth knowing. There doesn't seem to be an edition for Access 2003 but the Access 2002 edition will contain everything you are likely to need. It isn't a book for the beginner but if you have recently embarked on Access development and are looking for solutions to your coding problems this book is what you need. For the "heavy" stuff there's also a companion Enterprise Edition. I bought the Access 97 edition when I was learning Access VBA and it's dog-eared pages and creased spine remind me how useful it has been. I added the Access 2002 version to my library to help me with the change to ADO coding that was introduced in Access 2000.

Earlier versions are still available new and used and their content is still relevant in later versions of Access, so if you use an earlier version of Access or your budget you can find them here:

Access 2000 Developer's Handbook Volume 1: Desktop Edition
ISBN: 0-7821-2370-8
Find it at Amazon.com (USA) or at Amazon.co.uk (UK)

Access 97 Developer's Handbook
ISBN: 0-7821-1941-7
Find it at Amazon.com (USA) or at Amazon.co.uk (UK)

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Microsoft Access 2002 Visual Basic for Applications Step by Step

author: Evan Callahan
publisher: Microsoft
ISBN: 0-7356-1358-3

When I decided to learn Access VBA I chose this book (I used the Access 97 version) because I had been impressed by the Excel volume in the same series (see my recommendation for Microsoft Excel Visual Basic Step by Step). I wasn't disappointed. If you like my style of step-by-step tutorials then you'll enjoy learning from this book. Sit at your computer, open the book at page one, and of you go. The exercises use real-world solutions and are well-paced and easy to follow and understand. This is the ideal first book for the new Access programmer and will set you on the path to successful and confident Access VBA programming.

The earlier version is still occasionally available. You should be able to find copies here:

Microsoft Access 97 Visual Basic Step By Step
ISBN: 1-5723-1319-6
Find it at Amazon.com (USA) or at Amazon.co.uk (UK)

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Access Cookbook

authors: Ken Getz, Paul Litwin & Andy Baron
publisher: O'Reilly
ISBN: 0-5960-0678-0

In Access Microsoft has given us a really powerful, flexible and usable database tool, but much of what can be achieved depends upon the imagination and ingenuity of the database developer. To get the best out of this program you need some really good ideas and for this you can't do much better than adding this book to your library. Coming from the pen of Ken Getz and Paul Litwin (aided here by Andy Baron) you would expect something of quality and you certainly won't be disappointed (see my other recommendations: Access Desktop Developer's Handbook and VBA Developer's Handbook). This book is brimming with ideas for solving common (and not-so-common) database design problems, and for adding useful tools and enhancements to your databases. There are chapters devoted to all the major activities of an Access database from queries, forms and reports to catering for multiple users and working with SQL Server and the Web. Each topic is divided into three sections: The Problem outlines the aim of the project; the Solution explains exactly how to solve it with sample code (where applicable) and illustrating screenshots; and finally a Discussion of the methods used, why and how they work. Finally, the accompanying CD includes Access databases that contain solutions for each problem in the text. This is a book you can use to search for the solution to a specific problem or, as the title suggests, dip into and browse for a good idea. Whilst many of the solutions employ VBA coding everything is set out and explained in an easy readable style so you don't need to be an Access ace to benefit from it.

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