Thursday, January 19, 2017

How I Deploy - a story about Azure Websites that can apply to any ftp website

In this article at LinkedIn, I am going to show you how you can publish your website into the cloud using Azure and Dropbox. This is a way that you can move on from a old style FTP host into a Microsoft Azure. To see my website that runs this way, go to

As you can see the site it is very big and it runs fast. Before I moved it to Azure, that was not the case.  Even the site search engine is slick and that has a lot of work to do. So first of all a bit of background as to how I make the website. I use a Help Authoring tool called Help and Manual.  It can create Visual Studio help files, pdf books, kindle books, word books and chm files. But for me, it creates my website on my local computer. The second tool that I use is a combination of Dropbox and Azure.  Here are the steps that I follow to update the site.  If you are still reading at the end of this article, I guide you how to make the site in Azure.

Note: If you are running an FTP authoring program, ignore the help and manual section and continue reading because anything that can be posted into a local folder can be adapted into a Dropbox folder and this article will become very relevant.

So here is the link to the article once again.  I hope you Like it    Garry

Late Update:  Help and Manual loved the article. They posted a note into their website here

Sunday, January 08, 2017

European Holiday Anyone - How About An English Speaking Conference in Vienna ?

Karl Donaubauer is the guru of conferences for MS Access in Germany. They are pretty big. Now he wants to run an English speaking conference in Vienna, Austria.

The conference will likely take place on April 1 and 2 in Vienna.  << Link is working now

All you have to do is convince your boss.

Below are some of the great buildings in Vienna.

Schönbrunn Palace 

Vienna Town Hall

Belvedere Palace

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Microsoft Access Conferences Coming Up In the USA

There are two Microsoft Office/Access conferences coming up in the USA in April. If you live anywhere near them you should make an effort to go. If you don't live nearby, what about one of those working holiday's that you have always dreamed about.

Conference One

Office365Day is a FREE 1-day event for MS Office users, power users and developers to learn from industry leaders and local experts. It’s also a great way to network and share knowledge with others. The event is free, thanks to our generous sponsors & those that volunteer their time to make the event a success.

Learn more about:  Word   Excel   Access   PowerPoint   OneNote   Power BI   PowerApps

Event:  Office365Day – Grand Rapids
Date:  Saturday April 1, 2017
Times:  8:00am – 4:30pm
Location:  Davenport University, Grand Rapids, MI
Open To:  Everyone
Cost:  FREE!

Conference Two

The Portland Access User group is having its yearly 3 day conference in late April. Speakers lined up thus far include Luke Chung, Alison Balter, Jack Leach, Juan Soto, Thomas Moller and Armen Stein. This conference is almost full and is always a sell out.  

Event: Portland Access User Group Conference
Dates: April 29, 30 and May 1, 2017

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

What will 2017 bring for Office Access Solution Specialists ?

Garry polishes up his crystal ball and discusses what may be the big thing for MS Access professionals in 2017. Read Garry's prediction here in a new LinkedIn article.

Search for GarryPhotoman in Instagram to see my best photos

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Access Desktop Sputters Back to Life

In 2016, Donald and Nigel surprised all with election results that were obvious if you wanted to look somewhere other than CNN or The Telegraph. The same also applied to the old fashioned world of Microsoft Access desktop solutions because contrary to the prophesies of the IT gurus, MS Access started to crank back into life. "What say you Garry ? " Here were the late surprises as best described in the FMS December newsletter.  Another take on this can be found here in Linked In

  •  MS Access was added to the small business editions of Office 365
  • Support for dBase tables were added back to Access 2016
  • Support was added for links to SalesForce, Dynamics CRM and more
Look these are not huge changes but given that Access is not cloud and its not phone, these are signs that Access is still loved in Microsoft.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Excel at Sub-Totals in the Cloud - Another LinkedIn story

Excel online is different canvas to Excel on the desktop. Your audience is likely to be less familiar with Excel, they are very likely to have a small screen and they probably couldn't "be bothered" to scroll off the first page of your report. In this article I will show you how SubTotals in Excel can make big data concise and then ExcelOnline can expand that information so you can see detailed data.

PS.  Soon I will publish the vba that goes with this article on this page at

The Big One - NZ Earthquake

Recently New Zealand had a monster earthquake centred in the southern island north of near a xmall town called Waiau.  Here is a page with many great pictures and another page showing how far the earth was moved. Finally a huge canyon filmed by drone

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Products That Are Related To Microsoft Access

Following are a list of products that are related to Microsoft Access and Office that I haven't posted about before but its possible I will post about in the future. The quick summary on the products comes from Microsoft itself.

Power Apps  and the Common Data Service

A development environment on the desktop to build mobile and tablet and web forms that connect to your systems and create new data. Typically your data will reside in the cloud in something like a Azure SQL table or a sharepoint list.
Build apps without writing code (not sure that's a feature)
Publish and use on web and mobile

Power BI
Power BI transforms your company's data into rich visuals for you to collect and organize so you can focus on what matters to you.

Power Query for Excel
Microsoft Power Query is an Excel add-in that simplifies data discovery, access, and collaboration. It's provided as part of Microsoft Power BI self-service solution.

Microsoft Graph  
Don't be fooled by the name, its purpose is a unified API endpoint, for accessing data, intelligence, and insights coming from the Microsoft cloud. And just for reference about why Microsoft may have used the term Graph, see Graph for Facebook I mainly bring this up so you don't get excited about this being part of the next big thing to create an Access graph.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Amateur Hour for the Access Solution you have just been shown ?

Armen Stein has a simple list that you can use to evaluate if a database was created by a person who has not had the time to properly learn Microsoft Access.

In the list of flaws, Armen singles out splitting, compile errors, weird field names, the lack of database relational design and popup dialogs and others. Apart from late binding of Excel which my guys leave until we do have a problem and splitting of databases which we don't do until the database goes into production, I  like Armen's Amateur Signs list , 

If you want to dive deeper into the topic of the "Less the perfect Access solution", have a read of Luke Chung's article on Taking Over Someone else's database.

That's the heavy reading over, have you ever dreamed of going to Hawaii. If so, Armen's wife Lori with a little help from Armen has written a travel guide for Kauai, the most spectacular of Hawaii's great islands IMHO.  If you have never been to Kauai, think of this book as the guide that introduces you to the great things about why you should visit the island rather than the guide that says such and such a hotel is 3 star and has good parking.

All the best and Happy Birthday MS Access

Garry Robinson
Programmer who didn't ever use Access 1.0 or 1.1

Microsoft Access is 24 years old - Its Time to leave home

On November 13th, Microsoft Access will be 24 years old. Here is a timeline commentary from Wikepedia

"1992: Microsoft released Access version 1.0 on 13 November 1992, and an Access 1.1 release in May 1993 to improve compatibility with other Microsoft products and to include the Access Basic programming language.

1994: Microsoft specified the minimum hardware requirements for Access v2.0 as: Microsoft Windows v3.1 with 4 MB of RAM required, 6 MB RAM recommended; 8 MB of available hard disk space required, 14 MB hard disk space recommended. The product shipped on seven 1.44 MB diskettes. And so the story goes and you can read it in Wikepedia.

This old stuff is is all fine but what has Access become in the world of clouds and phones ? Is it like a cat and ready to be replaced by a cute little kitten or is it a teenager that is now 24 years old and really needs to leave the house, get a job in an Office and learn some respect.

Clearly the post about Microsoft Desktop joining the Small Business plans on Office 365 tells you that Microsoft has not given up on MS Access. I was in Seattle this week with other MVP's and now that I have seen what Microsoft has published lately I personally feel that Access has both a place in the world and certainly is ready to do useful work in the Office for years to come.  So now you know my views, Happy birthday MS Access, its time to head off to the real world.

Some of Access 1.0 MVPs at the 2016 MVP Summit
In order top to bottom

Scott, Tom, Peter
Karl, Dirk, Doug, Jack, Andres, Ben
Brent, Andy, Luke, Miriam, George, Adrian, Armen
Jack, Juan, Garry, Jeff

If you want to find out about an MVP, click here

How to give Access a birthday present, next time someone asks you what you are working on, don't just call it an Access database, call it an Access Solution. But if you have a better phrase, Post your alternative words for Access Solution here I will be glad to put it here in the blog.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Knock me down with a feather - Mary Jo talks about MS Access

Every now and again I will look at ZdNet to get a decent fix of tech news. Anytime that Microsoft is mentioned, Mary Jo Foley is usually the author. So when I saw an article on MS Access, I wasn't expecting big things. But the news was nice, MS Access 2016 is going to be auto downloaded to 365 small business subscribers that use local versions of Office. Read the full story here and a slightly different take on the story.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Web: Stories not for the nervous

Copyright A Hitchcock
The other day I was reading about the denial of service attacks that knocked the stuffing out of Netflix and Twitter and others on a Friday night. As the story went, the bad people had taken over everyone's fridges and internet ready coloured lights and caused them to smash the internet.  I found a more informed version of that story here   Before your read my next article, go and check if you still have your wireless router usernames and passwords set to Admin Admin.

The second story is your classic Government doesn't really know how to deliver a service so it employs an expensive contractor. The only thing that is guaranteed in these encounters is that the contractor makes a lot of money, everything else is a matter of chance. In an Australian classic, the government decides that the Census can easily be delivered by asking 20 million people to log in after work into a brand new website. By eight pm, 19 million people were unhappily experiencing crashing forms and spinning hour glasses. Read this classic rotten tomato piece here

The final scary story comes from the land where Lord of the Rings was filmed, good old New Zealand. Many moons ago a research group discovered that they could hoover up data and give it to the people who look after us. Television New Zealand and The Intercept unearthed this rather sad story.


Next week I travel across the world to Seattle to the Microsoft MVP conference. There I will be entertained with the latest and greatest things that the still strong Microsoft Access team have been upto and more-so the successes of Microsoft as a whole. Whilst I will not be able to divulge anything that is NDA, I can guarantee you that there will be a room full of Access MVP's that will pass on a users perspective of the world to the Access team. I have always enjoyed this long trip, I doubt this one will be any different.  Enjoy your weekend.  

Garry Robinson
Access MVP since 2006.

Here is a group of links for Excel Online that will get you started

Lately I have written a couple of articles about Excel Online for LinkedIn. Those articles were geared for the programmer who is just getting started in this new area.

In this piece I am going to give you a list of good references about Excel Online and to a lessor extent, Word, Outlook and Powerpoint Online. For example, this Microsoft page will direct you to a number of videos to help you open Excel files online, something you will work out but will your users ? Very good concise videos  

and if you are still in the unsure camp, this article at PCMag shows you pictures of the completely free Ipad version of Excel and gives you mini descriptions underneath.

And if that has whetted your appetite for Online Excel/Office, check out all the rest of the Excel Online hyperlinks on this LinkedIn article I wrote.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The vba answer to my Excel Automation "Homework" from a few weeks ago

A few weeks ago I outlined how you create smarter Excel spreadsheets if they just so happened to be populated with data. Now I have finally created a sample code page that shows how that can be done here

The result will be a spreadsheet where the data filters shown in the picture below are open when your reader opens the file for the first time.

Enjoy   Garry

If you are into LinkedIn, I am publishing more in that environment. Check the same article here

Monday, October 10, 2016

Software stagnation - Doing nothing can cost you money

I have been writing Microsoft Access software now for nearly 25 years. In that time I have occasionally had software projects that have not had any development or support for 5 years or more. If the project was small, starting again is no trouble. If the project was big, getting back on top of the project is either costly to me or the customer.

After 5 years has gone by, the customer will be familiar with what some of the software does but may not be aware of the workings/specifications for the software, especially if they are new to the company. If so then everyone who is going to be involved in the new development will be "somewhat in the dark".

Things can get start to get a lot darker when the programmer of the software leaves town. Given that there has been no action (read money) for five years, there is every likelihood that they will have left town. This particularly applies to contract programmers who are working on the next project the minute the current contract is completed. My company doesn’t do contract jobs for that very reason.

 What is the solution to this stagnation dilemma ?

  Read the full editorial on Linked-In here

A potted plant in the lovely Fiesole near Florence, Italy

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Handling Multi-Line Text and a couple of notes on phones

I recently had to write a function that split multiple lines of text in a Long Text memo field into separate lines that I then wanted to post into a table.

The best article that I found on the topic was by The Smiley Coder and you can read that article here.

Mr Smiley's article features the VBA Split function. That function works by splitting the input string at every occurrence of a delimiter (like | or , or ; ) and returns the substrings in an array. For example, Split("a:b:c", ":") returns the array {"a", "b", "c"}. You can read the technical workings of the Split VBA function at Microsoft.  Keeping on my recent Excel twist, you can read an article on using Split VBA in Excel here.

If you think this post was only about lines of text, Split allows you to roll your text file handling rather than relying on MS Access to load up your text files.  Good luck with that

What ever you do, aim high...

Phone Titbits. 

I have a Lumia 950 XL Windows phone. It works well and takes good videos and photos. The home screen is excellent as it tells me stuff before I open an app. Its not for everyone due to lack of app support. So I was interested to read that there are other windows phones hitting the streets soon inc Hp Elite X3 (which sold out quickly) and the Alcatel Idol and maybe even a Surface Phone. Read about these here

If Microsoft wants to be really clever, apart from aiming for business phone users, they should make their phones ultra secure, hack proof and privacy friendly. An article on how to remove tracking info from an Android Phone is here.

Apologies for the double post of the previous article, something beyond my control.

Garry from Sydney

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Online Data Doesn't have to be Dumb

An Article on Automatic Excel Filters by Garry Robinson

Imagine if your Excel spreadsheet opened up with Filters are turned on, this would make your spreadsheet become more useful instantly. If we export our data to a basic spreadsheet, we should think about providing our users with filters and sorting from the get go rather than hoping they will find the Filter button in the menu of the Excel User Interface.

This article shows how you can use Excel Automation to add filters and demonstrates what that looks like in Excel Online. It then gives you clues as to how you can start to apply filters of your own to your OutputTo XLSX spreadsheets.

This article follows on from last months piece on Excel Online - File types and other basics

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Rollover  Beethoven - Access Web Database Users Beware

Ok I know that there are less people in the world that use Access Web databases than there are people that know that Beethoven's ninth was the feature music in the cult R rated film, Clockwork Orange.

That ridiculous analogy aside, if you have an Access web database, then beware when Microsoft asks you politely if you mind changing servers. If you agree, you may find your  odbc 11 linked tables sending out weird readonly messages.  What has happened is you will still be connected to your old server and that server will be readonly. Meanwhile in the cloud, your new server is working ok and Office 365 cloud data is being stored there. This new data is not visible in your old links. That's the symptoms.

All I can suggest that you do is open up your Access Web Project file in design mode and find those Connection buried under the File menu.  Now reenter your new connections into your odbc 32 links and you will be on the way. I hope.

Meanwhile I feel like I have been done over by , the star of Clockwork trying to work this out. I thought adding a project to my Web database system tonight was only going to take a minute, little did I know. :(