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  1. #1
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    .NET, ACCESS & WORD (Office XP)

    I am using ACCESS and Word to do some repetitive merging into letters. To make an application out of this, would you recommend that I learn and do it with .NET? I have considered learning and using VBA, but sense that VBA is getting outmoded real quickly by .NET, and will soon become legacy. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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    Re: .NET, ACCESS & WORD (Office XP)

    It sounds to me that this could be done in Mailmerge, possibly even without VBA. I believe Mailmerge can link to an Access data source.

    I wouldn't learn .NET just for this. VBA will be around for quite a while yet.
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    Re: .NET, ACCESS & WORD (Office XP)

    If you haven't used either VBA or .NET, you probably could get a solution to this sort of automation problem much faster with VBA. The facilities are built into the applications, and there are no special libraries to install. While VB .NET diverges from VB/VBA, much of what you pick up working in VBA will be applicable to VB .NET. Of course, if you are a C/C++ programmer, you might prefer to bypass VBA and use C# .NET. Do you have any other relevant experience that might tip the balance? Do you have a budget to buy Visual Studio .NET if you don't already own it?

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    Re: .NET, ACCESS & WORD (Office XP)

    I know C++ (but not VBA!) and can pick up the Academic version of Visual Studio .NET for $99. (I am working on a MS in Computer Science and a Ph.D. in Communication Studies.) Would it seem too big an investment to learn C#.NET for this project?

    A look at the number of comments on this message board tell me that C# isn't popular yet (but it appears that it could eventually eclipse Java and C). I am wondering if there is sufficient documentation out there now that I can use to learn to do the automation (with a splash screen, etc.)

    I am preparted to invest 50-60 hours and already have the merge system working with the tables, forms, and merge letters. As the previous poster said, I have it set up, and it works just by using the wizard in ACCESS. It is just not automated as I would like it to be. This will be my final project for CS as an automated grading/feedback system.

    What would you recommend? Just get the job "done" learning VBA, or try to learn how to do it in C#, to acquire another skill that might be needed in the future?

    I really, really appreciate your advice!

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    Re: .NET, ACCESS & WORD (Office XP)

    Well (using the voice of "Bones"), "I'm a lawyer, not a career counselor." That said, I wouldn't look at it as learning C# .NET just for this project, I'd look at it as learning enough to get this project done, and then being able to honestly list it on your resume. <img src=/S/laugh.gif border=0 alt=laugh width=15 height=15> In all seriousness, I have many times invested time and money in products that were better than Microsoft, only to see them die due to Microsoft's power to dominate any category it enters. VB has a better chance of being a mainstream language in 5 years than, say, Ruby, but unless some major conceptual flaw is discovered, C# is destined to become the leader ... because Microsoft says so.

    On to the practicalities! To me, 50 hours seems like a short amount of time to learn any new language! But that's coming from someone with an Economics degree who never succeeded at mastering any second language (French, Japanese, VBA, or otherwise). I'm not counting legalese. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> Anyway, VS.NET is supposed to be so fabulous that I'm sure you'll have it singing in no time. I believe it even does C++ so you don't actually have to learn C# or VB .NET unless you want to.

    One advantage of using VBA is that many of the sources you can consult for help on office programming will have sample code in VB or VBA. On the other hand, the mental translation between VB and C-family languages isn't that bad if you learn the rudiments of VB. Particularly since cost (dollars and your time, since you're a student) really is not an issue. It is much easier, I think, to pick up how to read VB code than C code. This is not to say you should write your project in VB or VB .NET. On the contrary, if your instincts are entirely C++, writing VB code may be completely alien to your way of thinking and ruin you for life. (I don't actually think that, but there are many language bigots who do.)

    Good luck with your project!

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    Re: .NET, ACCESS & WORD (Office XP)

    If you know C++, then you already understand programming and the necessary concepts.

    If you need to use Word/Access, then it will be easier for you to use VBA in Word/Access.

    You can purchase VS .NET Professional and, in your "spare" time play with VB .NET or C# or ..., but I'd say that using VBA will get your deed done quicker.

    Since you already know how to program, learning Word VBA should be very easy if you start with Steve Roman's Writing Word Macros.

    Since Office is not really integrated with .NET .YET, you'll end up using VBA even if you use .NET now.

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    Re: .NET, ACCESS & WORD (Office XP)

    An economics degree!
    Now I understand where you are coming from.

    My undergraduate and graduate work was in Economics and I taught Economics at a University before finally admitting that I was sucked into computer programming, etc.

  8. #8
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    Re: .NET, ACCESS & WORD (Office XP)

    > Since Office is not really integrated with .NET .YET, you'll end up using VBA even if you use .NET now.

    Really? I thought you just needed some "generic assembly" wrappers for the COM object libraries and you were off to the races with any .NET language you liked? I guess I'll find out when I get some spare time to install VS.

  9. #9
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    Re: .NET, ACCESS & WORD (Office XP)

    MSFT has issued the PIA for Office XP.
    You are still using Office via Automation, but the PIA just makes .NET play niceŽ with Office XP.

    You still load the Office XP COM library in .NET, but .NET silently is using the PIA instead of the COM library.

    Things should bet better with next release of .NET and Office 11 with the VSTO

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