Tuesday, July 10, 2007

You're Not A Professional Programmer

Don't let the fact you're not a professional programmer dissuade you from learning to do even light coding. Once you master things like macros, queries, designing simple forms, and creating tables, you're ready to begin creating truly rich user experiences. You know, validating what the user entered, launching a hyperlink when they double click on a field, filtering subforms based a button selected, etc. To do so, you need to learn about Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

Think of learning VBA in Access as the equivalent to learning a new spoken language. Sure, you can't order a sandwich and bottled water from a sidewalk cafe with VBA, but it is a great way to challenge yourself and keep your mind nimble. And don't give in to elitism when it comes to programming. Some might call what you create "scripts" or "macros," but make no mistake, when you learn to code in Access, you're doing more than just recording macros. You'll find that a good majority of Access is exposed for you to command from VBA, and with some extra learning, you can find out how to command Windows interfaces to create even more comprehensive solutions.

Like I mentioned in my last post, one of the easiest ways to learn is by example. When you start, it will look very scary. Spend some time taking baby steps (yes, the dreaded "hello world" examples). Try recording macros and then look at the code to see what it took in VBA to automate what you did using the keyboard and mouse. Then move on to learn about the general framework for how things get done using VBA (the object model in tech-speak). Curiosity and a few hours messing around can get you quite far if you are patient with yourself. The same would hold true if you had a few hours to sit with someone that speaks another language...

No comments: