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Keywords: Excel, Access, MS Office, VBA
Title: Integrating Excel And Access
Author: Michael Schmalz
Verdict: A good introduction for those wanting to integrate Excel and Access
With MS Office so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that many organisations, big and small, have reached for MS Access when they've needed to put a quick database together. While you're unlikely to meet developers or super-users who actually love Access, you'll meet plenty who've used it to get a job done. Development can be fast, the user interface friendly and there's lots of VBA information to mine when the going gets tough. However, even more widespread than the quick and dirty Access database is the huge and creaking Excel application. Putting Excel and Access together to get a job done seems like the obvious thing to do, which is where this book comes in.
The book looks at Excel/Access integration from a number of view-points: using Excel to get at data inside an Access database (both via data imports and using DAO or ADO and VBA), from within Access (importing or linking to Excel sheets or using VBA), creating PivotTables that link to Access data and so on. Additionally there are chapters that look at using Access to access (!) SQL Server data, linking Access and Excel to other MS Office applications, using forms in Excel and finally the book walks through a complete integration project.
While the author doesn't assume much knowledge of VBA, it is used in many of the chapters and in the extended examples. An appendix provides a very rudimentary introduction to VBA, but readers who really have no VBA knowledge might need something more (such as our own TechBookReport VBA Tutorial).
The book can also be used by readers interested in beefing up their Excel skills. For example the chapter on creating Excel forms can standalone as a good tutorial. However, anyone primarily interested in improving Excel skills would be advised to look at something like Analysing Business Data With Excel, which has greater scope and depth.
However, Michael Schmalz does a good job of covering the core subject, though at times the book seems to jump around from topic to topic. The examples are generally clear and the writing is easy to follow. There is plenty of VBA code in the text, all of which can be downloaded from the O'Reilly web site.
For those readers wanting to share data dynamically between Access and Excel this is certainly a book worth seeking out. The fact that it covers both Excel and Access as the front-end makes it especially useful, it enables the reader to make the decision where to host the application on sound technical reasons rather than on lack of examples or knowledge.