Access developers come in a wide range of skill sets, but what set apart those who are good at Access development? I’ve put together a rather subjective list of 7 habits for your review, let me know what you think in the comments!
Habit 1: Using error handlers in all procedures
Errors generated by Access are too vague or meaningless to users, that’s why good developers add error handlers to all of their procedures. Doing so can be a real pain, but if you download and install MZTools it’s as simple as a mouse click. I’ve customized my install to include Erl in the auto generated code.
Habit 2: Comments in your code
Have you ever looked at your code six months after you wrote it and have it look alien to you? Get into the habit of commenting your code so that you will avoid head scratching in the future.
Habit 3: Use SQL statements instead of queries
Sure you could use queries as the source of forms and reports, but you are just asking for trouble. Either you or a user may alter the query and make your form or report not work right. It’s for this reason I embed the SQL into my objects instead.
Habit 4: Backup frequently
Access can be a finicky beast, corrupting just at the moment you’ve spent countless hours optimizing your application. Do yourself a favor and backup the way I do: at the beginning of day, four hours into my day or right after some important milestones. I also develop using my DropBox folder, so if something does go wrong I can pull up an older copy.
Habit 5: Use Split Databases
Good developers always split your databases in two files: Front End and Back End, the former has all of your code, forms, queries and reports, the later only data.
Habit 6: Code closest to the object
It can be tempting to create code repositories in your app but it would make it easier to troubleshoot issues and problems if you place your code on the object that’s using it. For example: The order invoice should have the procedure that will calculate totals in the form’s module and not on another module. Exception to this habit: When you need to call the same code from different parts of your app.
Habit 7: Push the Access envelope
Another great habit is to push the envelope with your Access coding. Consider these scenarios: Using SQL Server and calling stored procedures in your code; controlling other Office apps such as Word or Excel from Access and developing amazing features in your Access application.
Those are my 7 Habits, what say you about the list? What other great habits do successful Access developers have?