Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 / by ExcelHelp
As two of Microsoft’s core Office products, Excel and Access play very nicely together. Excel is, at its core, a spreadsheet application, while Access functions as a database management system. They both make use of the macro programming language Visual Basic for Applications, or VBA, which provides the best way to interface between Excel and Access for maximal robust data management. Access and Excel both provide highly customizable platforms capable of seamless synchronization with each other through VBA – the most thorough coverage of this subject, including extensive coding examples, is provided by Michael Schmalz’s aptly named Integrating Excel and Access. There are a few main things to keep in mind when using Access as a database management system for applications in Excel.
Both Access and Excel have adaptable Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), but to get the most out of integrating these two programs it’s necessary to use Visual Basic for Applications. Visual Basic 6 is an event-driven language developed by Microsoft in 1991, and VBA allows programmers to write Visual Basic code to be hosted within an application. VBA code is native to both Excel and Access; through the use of automation (or OLE Automation, as it used to be known), it is possible to communicate simultaneously between Windows programs, allowing Excel to instantly manipulate data stored in Access without affecting the database itself. By pulling data directly from Access, we avoid unnecessarily duplicating data while also simplifying the security and systems management process.
By relegating data management and data reporting to Access, we can treat Excel as a front-end interface focused on creating and visualizing data in the way best tailored to your business’ needs. Integration between Access and Excel can be achieved working in terms of Digital Access Objects (DAO), a generic term in computer programming, or ActiveX Data Objects (ADO), an alternative developed and managed by Microsoft. At their core, both DAO and ADO accomplish the task of interfacing between the computer’s memory and a relational database. The decision of which object set to program will come down to specific concerns over how Excel will be querying the Access Database.
Through the use of Excel and Access, the functionality and design of custom forms can be maximized through a combination of a template spreadsheet or document with a database system. Excel can manage complex, multi-variable forms that are easily customizable by querying an associated database in Access. In this way, Access can be used to store the information while Excel’s program focuses on custom-designed templates, presentation, and visualization of the relevant information.
The advantage of integrating Access and Excel lies in their combined ability to efficiently manage massive amounts of information. Robust data management is a complex task, but through this software division of labors we are able to treat the database management and the data manipulation and visualization as two synchronized and highly versatile sets of tasks. The use of VBA allows us to automate Excel through Access, ensuring maximum flexibility and a highly efficient system for handling enormous loads of data. Outsourcing the programming component of this integration is often cheaper and more efficient than attempting to streamline this process in-house; eSoftware Associates is one company that provides consulting on Excel integration. We live in a world increasingly saturated with massive amounts of data and learning how to get the most out your information is a crucial task in today’s market. To that end, integrating Excel and Access is a must for any business.
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