Coding Language That Is Considered To First Fully Use Object-Oriented Conversion of Access Database Systems to Visual Basic Dot NET and SQL Server

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Conversion of Access Database Systems to Visual Basic Dot NET and SQL Server

Microsoft Access is showing its age. Most of the techniques (File Server, VBA, DAO, Jet Database Engine, etc.) go back 20 or more years. Microsoft will continue to support VBA for many years to come, but the programming focus is quickly shifting in favor of Visual Basic.Net and SQL Server.

For business administration systems, the combination of a VB.Net FrontEnd with a SQL Server BackEnd database is ideal. Visual Basic is business rules oriented and SQL Server is efficient and easy to maintain.

VB.Net Upgrade Conversion Reasons

The reasons for an upgrade from Microsoft Access to Visual Basic.Net and a SQL Server database are:

  • A corporate strategic decision
  • A concern for the future of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)
  • The difficulty and cost in maintaining obsolete and error ridden code
  • The difficulty and cost in the support of the code written by amateurs without regard to the standards
  • The need to replace an ineffective administration system that just “grew up like Topsy”
  • The need to replace clumsy Access Forms with a more efficient alternative
  • The need for registration and recovery of the transaction to ensure the integrity of the system data
  • The many quirks of Access related forms
  • Constant tuning and performance issues
  • High network traffic
  • The limited number of simultaneous users
  • The limited storage capacity of the Table record
  • Greater security requirements

For these reasons, the conversion of existing Access administrative systems to VB.Net and a SQL Server database can become an imperative.

Most new administration applications today will be designed by the professional developer using a VB.Net database Front-End and SQL Server Back-End.

Suggested conversion strategy

It is almost impossible to convert existing VBA code, Access Forms and Reports to VB.NET. It is much more cost-effective to try to extract only the logic of the existing business rules, and start from scratch by creating new forms FrontEnd and using a SQL database as BackEnd.

This note describes the necessary strategies to minimize some of the obstacles that will be encountered with the conversion process, and reduce the programming effort.

Identify business rules

Most of the VBA code logic in Forms is used to support the User Interface – it has no meaning in the VB.Net environment. There will be little or nothing to be gained from any attempt to convert the bound code Form. The VBA to VB.Net conversion effort should focus on identifying and converting the business rules contained in the VBA code modules.

Conversion strategy decisions

  • Project – There is the option to use an MDI Form or a Multi-Tab Form.
  • Menu – A TreeView control should be adapted to select MDI Shapes
  • Shapes – There is the option to use Bound or Unbound shapes.
  • Reports – Crystal Reports or SQL Server Reporting Services (Business Intelligence Development Studio – no longer supported) will produce reports similar to the old Access reports.
  • It is still possible to call an access database and access reports from VB.Net. This can make the transition process faster.
  • Tables – These can be redesigned due to lack of normalization or incorrect indexing. The default schema prefix “dbo_” that SQL Server uses can be added to any Table name.

Implementation of VBA Standards

The conversion effort depends heavily on the coding standards used by previous Access programmers – and usually, depending on the programmers’ experience and age when the system was first created, the standards will leave much to be desired. desired

Module coding standards that facilitate the conversion must first be implemented in the Access system. There are several modifications that can be made to make the code conversion easier later:

  • Consistent indentation
  • Declare all Variables with a Type
  • Use a prefix of say “m_” or “g_” for Module or Global Variables
  • Make sure the Global variables are needed globally
  • Set Option Explicit in each Code Module
  • Add variables used but not declared
  • Add a data type to all Variables, whether dimensioned or a parameter
  • Add a return data type to all Functions
  • Use functions like DateAdd for date arithmetic, instead of “+” or “-“
  • Remove all Eval functions
  • Avoid, where possible, “bang” construction – i.e. Forms! Customers! Customer ID

It would be useful if the control fields could be renamed with descriptive names, instead of Text1, Text2 or Command1, Command2. Unfortunately, changing the name of a Field can cause problems, since the Field can be referenced in other Forms, Macros, Reports, Modules or Queries. After any such changes, the Access system usually becomes a nightmare to debug.

Convert DAO to ADO or ADO.Net

DAO functions like Recordsets and Querydefs need to be converted to ADO or ADO.Net. ADO.Net has replaced ADO, but ADO is still supported. If you’re familiar with ADO, stick with it – it’s simpler and just as efficient as ADO.Net.

For the more adventurous, try the LINQ alternative to ADO or ADO.Net. But for the final production system, expect the most efficient implementation of LINQ in Visual Studio 2012.

After the Initial Conversion to VB.Net

  • Constants will need a data type.
  • All variables in Functions or Subroutines will, by default, be declared with a ByVal keyword. Where a value must be returned, the keyword must be changed to ByRef.
  • Optional parameters in Function and Sub routines must have a default value.
  • Constants will need explicit data types.
  • Use Option Strict to ensure efficiency and avoid data type errors.
  • Disable the Infer option.

Welcome to the joys of Object Oriented Visual Basic!

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