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  1. #1
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    Access with Palm or PDA (2000/XP)

    I've been perusing all the posts about using Access with Palm Pilots and PDAs. Given the speed at which the technology advances, and the age of most of the posts, I thought I'd reopen those discussions, and from another angle.

    I am considering buying a Palm (or other PDA). I keep all my contact info in Access. I also keep my financial info (checking and savings - no stock tracking) in Access (multi-table database). Seeing what looks like a distinct lack of simplicity of synching the data in the previous posts, I wonder if anyone here might advise if any particular model of PDA offers a more Access-friendly platform than others - or if anything simpler than what's already been discussed here is now available.

    My two requirements at this stage of my search are that it synch fairly easily with my Access contact info (that could be forced to be single-table if necessary) and that it allow word processing from a folding portable keyboard. My wish list is that it could also synch with my multi-table financial database, but as long as I can create lists with either the keyboard or the stylus, that is not a requirement.

    Thanks for any shopping tips.
    -cynthia.

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    Re: Access with Palm or PDA (2000/XP)

    Cynthia

    As far as I can see there is no 'Access for Pocket PC' available and you have therefore 2 options: a database program that can read mdb files (converted to cdb files through ActiveSync) or a database program that uses its own proprietary format but provides a desktop module to perform the conversion. The latter is probably the only option for a Palm but I can't speak for Palm as I've never had one.

    Example of the former is SprintDb; of the latter HanDbase which is available in both PocketPC and Palm flavours.

    I purchased SprintDb and am at an early stage of using it. I split my Access database into front end and back end, and it is the backend (data only) that is synced to my Pocket PC. Sprint requires that I write a new front end in its own code, although this is very similar to VBA it is a new language. SprintDb has a module to allow you to do the development in a desktop version.

    So - separate front end "programs" with a single datasource being ActiveSynced between desktop and Pocket PC. If there is another solution I would dearly love to know of it.

  3. #3
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    Re: Access with Palm or PDA (2000/XP)

    Thanks Charlotte,
    I'm now poking around the web reading more about these options (wow - there is some price difference there between them!)

    I've never had or used a PDA, so it's a little harder knowing how things will really work, but it seemed smarter to do this research before being committed to a particular PDA unit.

    One thing I can't tell for sure from what I've read is how one enters text into text fields. Can it read stylus writing on non-keyboard units (I don't want to have to get out my portable keyboard to simply record a check I've written)? I know that if text entry isn't simple, it will deter me from keeping records up to date, and they mention drop down selection, check boxes, and numerical entry - but say nothing about text entry. I would assume it could read the stylus - but I've assumed wrong before.......I suppose that is really a question for a PDA forum, not an Access forum.

    Thanks,
    -cynthia

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    Re: Access with Palm or PDA (2000/XP)

    Thanks for sharing your experience with that David. I'll look into SprintDB as well. I'm hoping not to end up with something that's as involved to set up as a new Access Database, since I already put the time into the Access DB. SprintDB sounds like it might be complicated (I can do code, but only simple code and it takes time). At least it looks that way on their website. HanDBase looks a lot simpler. Pendragon is expensive but appears to actually create Access talbles so apparently doesn't need conversion. I can't really tell on their site how easy the forms are to set up, but in any case their cost approaches prohibitive for me.

    If you care to mention what led you to choose SprintDB over HanDBase, that would be helpful, since it sounds like you might be wishing for the simplicity that HanDBase at least appears on their website to offer..

    Thanks again,
    -cynthia

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    Re: Access with Palm or PDA (2000/XP)

    Hi Cynthia

    I may have assumed wrong, but I understand that HanDbase works only with flat file database tables and not the relational multi-table databases we are used to in Access. So if your database needs are covered by a single table HanDbase is clearly easier to use (as indeed would be a spreadsheet).

    I couldn't grasp how HanDbase would cope with Access mdb files, especially converting both ways. It was over a year ago that I last looked at it so much might have changed. Try Googling the names of various programs with either the word 'review' or 'forum' - I'm sure you will get quite a few hits.

    As to text entry, don't worry; its so straightforward its not mentioned. I worried the same way when I moved from Psion to PocketPC - reviews mentioned text entry with Palm Grafiti but not with Pocket PC so I thought you couldn't. Buttons, dropdowns etc obviously make data entry easier on such small devices but text is perfectly useable. Palm come only with Grafiti. Pocket PC out of the box comes with 2 different block letter input methods plus virtual keyboard and you can expand with various other software programs, some of which understand natural joined-up handwriting (although I have found little success with my scrawl).

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    Re: Access with Palm or PDA (2000/XP)

    You enter text by clicking on the field and then either using the built in virtual keyboard to type each letter or one of the writing options supported by the Palm OS.
    Charlotte

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    Re: Access with Palm or PDA (2000/XP)

    Sounds like it is flatfile in an individual database, but then can be linked. Here's what it says on their site:
    "Users can link two databases together, allowing a record of one database to act as a key to other databases. This feature enables users to jump from one relational database to the related items in a linked database." I suppose if you did this and then wanted to synch (which I do), you would be synching each DB into a table in the Access DB. I tend to write databases with LOTS of tables, so I'll have to think about how workable this would be - but the ones that I want to use on both platforms are not really all that complicated so it might work.

    This feature is also mentioned three times - all positively - in the fifty reviews users have posted on the site.
    The site I'm reading all this on is here (you have to get the Professional version to synch with Access - but it is still significantly less expensive than Pendragon)

    Thanks again for your insight. This discussion is proving most helpful in my deliberations on moving into the PDA arena.
    -cynthia

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    Re: Access with Palm or PDA (2000/XP)

    Most of the handhelds, including Palm, now support Windows CE, which may be your only option if you actually want to run Access on the PDA. There are Access-compatible applications like Handbase and Pendragon Forms that run on the Palm OS, but Access is Windows-specific.
    Charlotte

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    Re: Access with Palm or PDA (2000/XP)

    Hi Cynthia

    Can yu give an update on you PDA solution, ex. HanDBase, Pendragon, SprintDb, etc?

    Thanks, John

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    Re: Access with Palm or PDA (2000/XP)

    Hi John,
    I had asked the question at a point when I was deciding whether to even get a palm (the ability to use it with my Access DBs was a major part of the decision, since I manage most of my contact info and a lot of other things in Access). I did finally decide that I could use one, but have only just purchased and begun to learn to use it (Palm LifeDrive) over the past four weeks. I was actually just about to dig out this old thread to review it.

    The device came with ads for a bunch of software, including something called OfficeSuite Professional 6 (which online is now 7) which it says runs Access programs. It says you can work with Microsoft Office native files - so I'm wondering if anyone has experience with that one? I'm thinking that means I wouldn't have to create new totally new files?

    That's the update I have for now. Thanks for reviving the thread and saving me the search!
    -cynthia

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    Re: Access with Palm or PDA (2000/XP)

    cynthia

    Check out:

    http://www.handango.com/ampp/store/Platfor...topSectionId=-1

    It say it will sync with Access (desktop -> palm & palm -> desktop), however mdb is not one of the native formats.

    John

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