Back to 6/96 Reviews SW: dtSearch 4.0
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 6/96 Reviews SW: Aptitude

6/96 Reviews SW: Microsoft Access Developer's Toolkit for Windows 95

Complete listing of June 1996 reviews

Access App Kit's a Hit

(Editor's Note: The WinMag Box Score: rates products on installation, usability, supporting materials, functionality, performance and utility. Our overall ratings follow this scale: 5,Outstanding or breakthrough product, best of its kind; 4, Exceeds expectations, superior to most competing products; 3, Works well, meets all our expectations, no major problems; 2, Has serious difficulties or limitations; 1, Has critical flaws. A list of recommended products follows the Reviews section.)

By Serdar Yegulalp

Yes, you can turn Access 7.0 databases into standalone applications. Microsoft Access Developer's Toolkit for Windows 95 lets users run Access databases without the application. It's a sound choice-if you're interested in getting a database-centric application out the door without expensive software or licensing fees.

But while version 2.0 is vastly improved over the previous 16-bit edition, its database deployment is fundamentally the same. Microsoft still wants you to build a standalone program by incorporating a runtime version of Access that contains all the DLLs and ODBC components needed to make a database work, instead of using a compiler to build a true executable application. The end result offers no performance gains and, since you're adding runtime code, takes up considerably more disk space. In my tests, application plus runtime equaled at least five 1.44MB floppies.

The toolkit is extremely easy to use, however. Once I created a database within Access, I sim-ply ran the Access ADT Wizard and answered several screens of questions. The Wizard needed to know which components to distribute with my application, what to name the resulting package and the proper format for deploying the final product-as disk images or on a network subdirectory. The program let me subdivide components among Standard, Full and Custom setup choices. I found the sheer number of installation options a little intimidating, but there's no doubt it provides an unprecedented degree of control over the way an app is deployed.

Specific icon files can be assigned to the database or its shortcuts; these can be packaged with the runtime. You also can force the program to place the database on the first floppy disk, an especially nice touch since it can reduce the number of disks used in the install. You can specify programs to be run after the setup program, provide custom Registry key entries and even create shortcuts to compact or repair the included database. Once all the options are finished, building a disk set takes anywhere from two to five minutes, depending on the options checked and the size of the finished database.

The toolkit's Replication Manager and Transporter, which lets users work with multiple synchronized copies of a database, was especially impressive. It can, for example, be set to automatically merge changes made to both the master and offsite replicas.

Info File
Microsoft AccessDeveloper's Toolkit for Windows 95
Pros: Price; customization
Cons: Performance; bulky apps
Platforms: Windows 95, NT
Disk space: 33MB
Microsoft Corp.
WinMag Box Score: 3.0
Back to 6/96 Reviews SW: dtSearch 4.0
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 6/96 Reviews SW: Aptitude