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  1. #1
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    Using Outlook to display/modify Access Data

    Has anyone used Outlook to display/modify Access data? Sales crew needs off line access to contact data that's currently in Access DB.

    Thanks,
    Mark Santos

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    Re: Using Outlook to display/modify Access Data

    Yes - and it isn't much fun. The problems are significant if you are using Outlook 97 or 98 as the VB Script in Outlook is pretty limited, and forms are even more so. Outlook 2000/2002 is better as the language is more robust, but the forms are still problematic. A solution we've used is to store all of the data in Access and only update it from Access using OLE Automation. There have been some recent threads on this technique.

    The problem is that you can't update it using the Outlook interface, and frequently the Sales staff will want to do exactly that. Another option is to do the whole thing in Access, and use replication to deal with changes in both directions. Of course replication has its own issues to deal with! Hope this sheds some light on the issues.
    Wendell

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    Re: Using Outlook to display/modify Access Data

    Hi Wendell,
    It sounds as if this will be sticky to say the least! And if they can't update using the Outlook interface then that would be useless. They all have Access on their pc's. I may just use the method that we use for our field service technicians. We create a text file and e-mail it to them. Then they use this VB program which reads the mail and installs the data to an MDB file in tables. They can then modify the data and return it via e-mail. The mail is read-in and the records are updated accordingly.

    I just have to decide how much I want them to be able to change. There are two tables that I don't want them playing with. The third table is their own data so I don't care.

    Thanks,
    Mark Santos

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    Re: Using Outlook to display/modify Access Data

    You may be on the right track, but there are issues that arise when two people update the same record between syncs. Replication is designed to do that, but it gets challenging when people are located in the field most of the time. In that case you would need something called the "Replication Manager" to allow dial-in calls to sync the databases. As to preventing them from modifying tables, you might want to implement Access security so they can't alter the two tables. Also, in a related thread, Charlotte suggested you look at partial replication, and I would second that. As long as you understand the issues, replication is a very managable process. We had people in Tuscon replicating with a database in Denver for over a year with no visits to Denver and only a couple of synchronization problems. Suggest you read the MS white paper if you think seriously about tackling it.
    Wendell

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