Access Monitor

by Mark Collette - GUI Computing
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The Access Monitor is a version control system highlighted by two key features; administrative security and developmental product version control. The developers obviously believe security to be a problem in the development of Access applications, for each multiuser Access Monitor comes with the ability for the system administrator to lock the availability of forms, macros, modules or other objects to authorised personnel.

There are three methods of limiting access to each database in Access Monitor: by user, by product and by object. Obviously, the second table restricts access to each object to certain personnel only. In usual situations, the developer will have their own copy of the database (DEVELOPER.MDB) that is dynamically linked to the product (the CORE.MDB). As alterations are made, they will be automatically updated in the CORE.MDB. Only the administrator is able to access all files ascertaining to the product directly. As each object is completed by each developer, it can be imported by the administrator to be stored in the product.

The other key aspect of the Access Monitor is the version control function. Quite simply, this means that a working record of the product's evolution can be kept, with revisions numbered in a standard x.x.x format. Each product database is created and released to non-developing users as static entities that are no longer linked to the CORE.MDB file. However, the revisions of all objects contained in the project will be stored in the CORE.MDB file.

Developers retain access to the case histories of the objects with which they deal, and can return to a previous version of the object if they should so require. They can import and export files as they decide it is necessary for the database under construction and subject to the constraints of the system administrator. Objects can be checked out singly or in Administrator-defined groups, and only one user may have an object checked out at any given time.

Screen Snap of Access Monitor

Each product stored in CORE.MDB can be accessed from any access database by selecting the Access Monitor Add-In from the dropdown file menu. This makes it easy to reuse various tables and other objects by simply going to the database. After all such objects and pertinent features have been selected, then each developer's database can be created by selecting File | New Database and then selecting Build mdb File from the administration key on the monitor toolbar. This then creates the database to work from, allowing access to all other features of the Access Monitor.

Access Monitor also provides the sort of reporting functionality you would expect from such a product, with extensive security and versioning reporting available, as well as providing easy on-line access to revision histories. Finally, there is a bug tracking facility which also places labels on each problem telling of the nature of the bug, it's urgency to fix and what is going to be done. This is accessible to all who use the object.

Apart from an overly-cumbersome installation process, Access Monitor is a well thought out version control structure for Access 2. Many, if not most, developers eschew Access for large projects, but even if you don't develop large applications in Access, Access Monitor's promotion of code reuse and bug tracking facilities might still come in pretty handy.

Access Monitor retails for $329 and is distributed in Australia by Talsoft (02) 317 4404.

Written by: Mark Collette
August 1995

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