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harfang's unrestricted Access

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« unrestricted Access » is an EE-Book about Microsoft Access. It's not a manual or a reference, it's a collection of tips, tricks, solutions, and advanced techniques. Each page removes, in some small way, a perceived restriction or limitation of Access...

Introduction


Since I started answering questions on Experts-Exchange, I noticed that my comments were often quite long. Longer than the media — basically a forum — or the questions would require. This happened whenever I started explaining rather than answering: sometimes, the simple version of the answer wasn't understood, or it needed some level of understanding to be used.

Apparently, I like to write. Technical stuff (but not only), things that can be explained, things I know well.

When I returned to EE after a sabbatical in October 2009, the new “article” feature was in place. I started answering questions again, and I also wrote an article for Access — quite technical — and one for Excel — lighter and for a larger audience. With these two, I had caught the virus. I took the time to explore thoroughly the possibilities (and limits) of the formatting, and my tests became yet another article, kindly published in the Article Tips area.

A little later, one new article was assigned this number, ID 2003. This was funny, because you can link to an article using a shortcut: A_2003.html, and Access 2003 is the topic I'm mostly writing about. So I decided to keep this article as entry point or as "table of contents", it will be easy to remember for me. This also makes my random collection of articles feel more like a book.



Access



Cascading Combos (2011-06)
Printing a Schedule — in preparation
Printing a Gantt Chart — in preparation
Printing labels (2009-11)
The Smart Combo (2009-10)
Searching for Names — in preparation



Miscellaneous





This is a work in progress, and this page will be updated whenever a new article is added or published. In case the page is moved to another zone at some point, the address will change as well, but the shortcut URL will still work: e-e.com/A_2003.html (also found on my profile).

Small Print

All articles remain the intellectual property of the author, and Experts-Exchange is granted a full licence to use the material on its site. You may use the contents freely in your own applications, but you may not reproduce any portion of the articles on any public media without written consent from either the author or Experts-Exchange.
© Markus G Fischer, Geneva, 2009–2011


If you want to learn more about me, please visit my blog on EE. I started it to report on new articles and to “write about writing”, but it turned into something rather more personal.

I hope you enjoy reading these pages as much as I enjoy writing them. If you do, please do not forget to answer 'yes' when asked if the article was helpful. This is often the only feedback I get; the visitor count doesn't tell me which type of articles and which topics are worth writing about!


« Bonne lecture ! » (happy reading!)

Markus G Fischer
(°v°)

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Author:harfang
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7 Comments
LVL 58

Author Comment

by:harfang
This article is special for me, but also for EE in some ways. It is the first "table of contents" article, not offering any original material worth publishing, but only links. Perhaps they will become common when other authors feel the need to index their own work, or another mechanism will be created for this type of information.

I briefly hint in the introduction at the fact that the number, A_2003, triggered this experiment. I would probably have done something similar anyhow, but not before having published one or two dozen articles. It is now my task to make the table of contents grow enough to make it a useful resource.

I would like to thank all the editors who participated one way or another in this adventure; it wasn't easy to find a solution agreeable to current EE standards, for various reasons, but I felt a strong support all the way. In particular, aikimark, the acting editor, who had to deal with unexpected developments, and Articles101, who made the recommendation that the article could be published in its current state.

There isn't much to read yet, but I have hopes!

(°v°)
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LVL 60

Expert Comment

by:Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)

  I'm not a PE  anymore, but for what it's worth, I don't think this should be a published "article".  This belongs in a profile, as a search feature in articles, or as part of the landing page concept, but it certainly is not an article on anything and I'm not sure why it was published.

My .02
JimD.
0
LVL 58

Author Comment

by:harfang
Jim,

There has been a long discussion about this. I do believe that resource articles containing only links are valid articles, and everybody agrees when the links are external (e.g. my favourite "how to" articles from MS). For some reason, an article with internal EE links isn't perceived the same.

The compromise was to move this to the Lounge for the time being (although it should be in the Access zone, in my opinion), so it could be published. Let's say its an experiment.

You wrote recently in one of your own articles:

>> This article is part of the app development series, a series of articles on Experts-Exchange.com that explores common application development problems and their solutions.

I think you should create an article to materialise this "series" as well. Each article links back to the "table of contents". At the moment, your introduction has no weight and no reality. The articles are part of a "series" only in your mind, unless you provide a table of contents for it.

I was actually hoping you would write your own table of contents article... What else did you have in mind when writing these words?

(°v°)
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LVL 60

Expert Comment

by:Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)
<<There has been a long discussion about this. I do believe that resource articles containing only links are valid articles, >>

  Just seems that something like this should either be part of the article search function (show me all articles for an author) or as part of a members profile (here's everything that they have published).

<<and everybody agrees when the links are external (e.g. my favourite "how to" articles from MS). For some reason, an article with internal EE links isn't perceived the same.>>

  I don't buy into that statement as I have yet to see any other articles of a "resource type" that list nothing but a series of links internal or external.  And we certainly don't like to see that in questions either.

  As far as internal links specifically, that's what the article search is for.   If this truly is a resource article, then it should be covering and summarizing all Access articles and would serve as a starting point for a landing page.  That actually was the original intent of the PE job; to organize and present content.  That covered articles, tips, FAQ's, quizzes, polls, etc.  Of course it's turned into something totally different at this point.

<<I think you should create an article to materialise this "series" as well. Each article links back to the "table of contents". At the moment, your introduction has no weight and no reality. The articles are part of a "series" only in your mind, unless you provide a table of contents for it.>>

   I don't plan to do any type of table of contents as I am not publishing a book.  Linking / indexing will be achieved through the use of tags and the article search feature.  As far as the intro having no weight and no reality, I would disagree.  The concept is real and specific.  I have quite a few ideas already on specific topics which I plan to write about. But even without that, the concept is real and the statement as it stands is quite valid.    

  It's also written that way because other authors may be involved.

JimD.


 
0
LVL 58

Author Comment

by:harfang
Thanks for the feedback.

You are raising the central themes of the discussion around this article among page editors. On one side, there is a need for authors to promote and organise their own articles, on the other, authors shouldn't be *allowed* to use articles for that purpose.

The main reason for not allowing table of contents has to do with points. A reader could potentially click 'yes' on both the article he liked and on the table of contents that allowed him to find it... I don't see this to be a problem, but there were strong feelings about it.

The secondary reasons are those you express. A vague feeling that this type of information should be made available elsewhere (e.g. in profiles), and a strong hope that it can be fully automated (e.g. through tags).

I wasn't convinced.

The present article is what adds meaning and purpose to my attempts at writing articles. It is very important to me, and motivates me. I'm also confident that it will prove useful to readers and fellow experts if I continue writing. The page editors were kind enough to publish it in this zone for the time being, at least until another mechanism is created. Should that happen, I will quite probably continue to defend this page nonetheless.


I understand your point about summarising the articles to provide original content. At the moment, the layout and ordering is the only meta-information. I plan on adding some introductory comments above sections, once I have enough articles to make that meaningful. I also thought about a section "Access Articles by Other Authors", with very brief comments and links to your articles, among others. This idea is currently on hold, as you can imagine.

I have an article idea with only commented links as content. "The Access Bookmark Page" or something like that. I would love this to be a multi-authored work. I wanted to start the project as a question in the Access zone. If that project ever becomes reality, why not mix external an internal links?


> That actually was the original intent of the PE job; to organize and present content.

That should be put back into the charter. It is essential to keep EE as a distinct resource on the Internet. If we don't start soon, articles will end up being just other matches on search engines.

In a way, this is what your "series idea" is about. You write that "the concept is real and the statement as it stands is quite valid."

The concept is real, but only to you, not to the reader. The statement is of course valid (you are writing a series), but the reader can't do anything with that information. I tried asking you this twice before: what do you have in mind?

... A lambda EE user stumbles upon your article. He reads the paragraph and thinks "that's great, I want to read  the whole series". What does he do? Are you going to publish the links to other articles as author comments? Are you going to add "visit my profile for more information"? Will you use a special tag in the series and publish a link to the search page for that tag?

I feel that an article presenting the series -- as you presented it to me and other page editors -- explaining it's aim and scope, with links to each article, and providing a bit of personal information would be much nicer and much more useful. That way, the series becomes real to the reader as well. The series has a "home page", a title (a *name*), authors (if it becomes a multi-authored work), content, and some history.


I urge you to find a viable solution to make your "series" real to the *reader* (and to co-authors). If you don't want to use an article, find another solution. Who knows, you might end up with something I can use as well, removing the need for the present article...


Cheers!
(°v°)
0
LVL 60

Expert Comment

by:Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)
<< I tried asking you this twice before: what do you have in mind?>>

 I plan on writting a series of articles that focues on techniques that pertain to common application development problems.  i.e. resource sharing, key generation, messaging between objects, etc.

JimD.
0
LVL 60

Expert Comment

by:Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)
<<Where will I find a list of the articles in the series? >>
 
 As I said, though the tags and the article search feature.  But even without the tags, one would only need to search articles for "app development series" and all the articles would be located.

JimD.
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