Visual Basic Database Programming Multimedia Cyber Classroom

Tuesday Nov 19th 2002 by John Percival

Visual Basic Database Programming Multimedia Cyber Classroom 100001

This interactive classroom is part of the Complete Database Training Course from Prentice Hall Professional Technical References. Also included with the Complete Database Training Course is the book Core Visual Basic 5, which will be reviewed shortly.  The install was quick and easy, and it was soon up and running. I was a complete novice at databases when I started this: I had never used DAO, Jet, RDO, or anything else Database-like previously, so I was approaching it from the point of view of a complete novice.

The first thing that I noticed at the program got started was that it was written in Java, so there was a nasty DOS box sitting in the background all the time that it was running. After having a flick round through the book, I saw the the front end was not very slick, and the font, although 12pt, was small on my display, and there was no way to change it. The window the the book sat in was also not sizeable, so I was stuck with only a small page-worth of writing to read before I had to continue to the next page. Anyway, that's enough grumbling about the interface, let's get on with the meaningful bit - the content.

I started at the first chapter (as most people do), and I was getting quite worried that I was going to be out of my depth, as it started talking about the thoery of databases, and their structure. Although this was quite heavy going, it introduced me well to the jargon of databases, and what options there were. The second chapter was a much easier read, as I was introduced to DAO and Jet databases through the Data Control. There is the option at the beginning of most sections to have it read out aloud. I really liked this feature, as it meant that I could be trying out the code, and my new ideas while it was reading to me. As well as the basic chapter text, there are regular tips, and caveats about database programming. There are also regular diagrams, showing relationships between the objects, procedure paramenters, and code snippets.

Although there was a sprinkling of code and demo projects, I don't think that there was quite enough. The demo projects associated with each chapter were, one the whole, very good, showing you how to do the things talked about in the chapter. However, it is very hard to cover all the features covered in a whole chapter in just one demo, and I think that including more would be better.

The chapter that I found most useful was the one concerning SQL queries, and using them. This was very informative, and what was said was good. However, it only really scraped the surface, as, after looking it up in VB Books Online, I have found out much more about SQL. This is one place where more examples would have been much better, and, even if they are just example SQL statements, a good explanation of how to implement them would be good.

One feature that I liked a lot was the end of chapter quiz. This let you catch up with your thoughts, and see how much of the previous chapter you could remember. This was a good pointer of what to go back and have a second look at as well. The quiz involved ticking boxes, and dragging words into spaces. However, every now and then, it got confused, and refused to work correctly.

On the whole this is a good package which goes into a lot of good detail, which is let down by its lacking front end, which would have been much better as a simple HTML document. You must realise before you start that some of it is quite heavy going, and that to get the full use out of it, you need to have SQL Server 6.5, and access to a web server to play around with ASP.

Chapter List

1)    Introduction
2)    Acessing Data Using the Data Control
3)    Using Data Access Object
4)    Advanced Database Concepts
5)    The Remote Data Object
6)    Stored Queries and Stroed PRocedures
7)    Transaction Processing and the Microsoft Transaction Server
8)    Active Server Pages and ADO
9)    Building Client Applications Using the ODBC API
10)    Managing and Distributing your Application

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