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  1. #1
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    Please help with this concept: A document database (n/a)

    I only dabble with Access on occasion. As most of my help has come from here, I return to the well yet again, only this time with a conceptual question: Is Access good for creating a database of documents and graphics?

    The Story: I am an instructional designer. I create courses on various subjects (usually customized business software), but most of my time is devoted to writing concepts and procedures. I tend to do the same concepts time and again. My colleagues also have to write out the same concepts. One would think cutting and pasting would be running rampant around here, and to some extent, it's true. However, I'm determined that there is a better way to do this. Could the information we use time and again, be stored in a database so that we can call it up as needed. In fact, we could, theoretically, use Word or an HTML editor to read the material out of the database to create standard documents. The concept is straight forward, but does anyone have any experience attempting such a project? I'm particularly interested as to where the pitfalls may lie and if there are other approaches I should consider first.

    Thanks (and I look forward to seeing your thoughts)!
    Louis

  2. #2
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    Re: Please help with this concept: A document database (n/a)

    Access is not very good when it comes to storing formatted text and graphics. Since you will probably create the documentation in Word, it is probably a better idea to store them as AutoText entries in a Word template. The users can then insert these entries where they need them. You could create a user-friendly interface with a UserForm, but perhaps that is not even necessary.

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    Re: Please help with this concept: A document database (n/a)

    The wording could be stored in a database, but you would be better off only retrieving the wording through a merge and using Word styles to apply formatting.
    Charlotte

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    Re: Please help with this concept: A document database (n/a)

    Thanks Hans. I sure didn't consider the text formatting. That could be a problem, but maybe not (as the final product would have to be formated according to whatever standards are needed). Is Access not good with graphics? Again, I have no experience here, but I regularly use Cerious's ThumbsPlus, which I understand uses the Access engine (or am I mixing apples and oranges here?)

    Good suggestion about Word but the scope of this project is well beyond Word's capabilities. I figure we'd have a good thousand pages of descriptive and procedural text by the time we get it all in.

  5. #5
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    Re: Please help with this concept: A document database (n/a)

    An Access database will increase in size horribly if you store images; this is because, whatever the graphic format, Access will also store an uncompressed bitmap of the image. This might not be a problem with thumbnail images, but if you store a 800 by 600 pixel screenshot in full color, a .jpg might be 100 KB, but the bitmap will take up 1400 KB! A better way is to store the path and file name of image files in the database. See <post#=296892>post 296892</post#> for a database that demonstrates how to handle images on a form (and report).

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    Re: Please help with this concept: A document database (n/a)

    Does the information have to be stored in the Access DB? He could create hyperlinks to the source material in Access, using Access to keep track of where the information is located. Meanwhile, the files would be stored in Word format or whatever.

    Just a thought...

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    Store the info in Access?

    Now, that's an interesting idea. Access becomes the manager of the information rather than the keeper. I understand how we'd link to graphics, but what about text? Is it a good idea to use HTML files, or something else (I hesitate to use DOC files, but I can't explain why).

    Hmm, to explore this route further, can we build an Access form that collects the text data but then stores (and reads) the record in an external HTML file?

  8. #8
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    Re: Store the info in Access?

    Sorry to be late to the topic; yesterday was one of those days where I was nose down all day! We have built a couple of systems somewhat similar to what you describe. One was an automatic proposal generator for creating RFPs, and the other constructed large documents describing the procedural requirements for doing audits. In each case we stored document chunks in the database (though we didn't use rich text, you could), and then used Automation in Access to create the customized document in Word. That requires that you know the object model for Word fairly well, and that you are pretty proficient in VBA. The things we did used no graphics, but it seems to me you could use that same concept to embed external graphic objects in Word docs. The documents we created didn't receive any real editing after we finished creating them, but you could also allow that. Sounds like an interesting project.
    Wendell

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