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Evil Access Stuff
By Richard Rost   Richard Rost on Twitter Richard Rost on LinkedIn Email Richard Rost   16 months ago

I'm trying to come up with a list of all of the evil stuff in Access that I have to continuously tell people NOT to do. Help me out here guys. You should never use:

  • Spaces in your Object names (tables, fields, etc.) Say "OrderDetailT" not "Order Detail Table"
  • Reserved words (Date, Name, etc.)
  • Split Forms (I've seen several times where VBA code that works on a single form stops working on a split form)
  • Attachment Data Type (NEVER store attachments inside your database. See ABCD Part 5). Super Evil.
  • OLE Objects or Pictures stored inside the database (see Images).
  • Multi-Valued Fields (TechHelp video coming up on this one soon).
  • Hyperlink Fields. Use Short Text instead.
  • Google Drive (or DropBox, etc.) to share an Access database. See this page if you want remote access
  • A single shared database file on a network with multiple users opening it (Split your DB)
  • AutoNumbers are NOT for You! They're for Access' internal use ONLY! Don't worry if they're out of sequence or you're missing some. If you need sequential numbers, use a custom counter.
  • Switchboards. Make your own Menu Forms.
  • Calculated fields in tables. Use calculated query fields instead. Tables shouldn't contain calculations.
  • Lookup values in tables. Use relational combo boxes on forms instead.
  • Subdatasheets in tables or queries. No. Use forms with subforms instead to show relationships. See this for more information.
  • Data Macros. I'm sorry. I'll never get used to having macros inside tables. It breaks every rule that I've ever been taught about relational databases. I don't like macros to begin with. Macros in Forms are a pain. Macros in Tables are an abomination. Stick to Forms and Event Programming (VBA).

These things are frowned upon:

  • SendKeys - try not to use this if at all possible. There's almost always a better way.
  • Plurals in your object names. Try to be consistent even if it doesn't sound right. CustomerT not CustomersT.
  • Not commenting your code!
  • Not naming all of your objects like command buttons (I'm guilty of this)
  • Not backing up your database nightly!
  • Not backing up offsite!
  • Not backing up before a major code revision (don't lose a whole day's work)
  • Third-party add-ons and references. Use internal Access objects if possible, or at least objects that come with Office.
  • ActiveX Objects - unreliable
  • Navigation Forms - use a Main Menu form, or my subform technique in ABCD Part 2
  • Tab Controls. I just don't like them. They're a pain to use.
  • From @NoLongerSet - Overuse of DoCmd.SetWarnings False and On Error Resume Next - my reply: Yeah... I pretty much only use SetWarnings around a RunSQL command (and even then I try to use db.Execute if possible). Resume Next is lazy error handling, but sometimes I like it if I don't feel like doing something the LONG way. LOL.
  • Cascade Updates are dumb. Cascade Deletes are dangerous! Handle it yourself in VBA/SQL code.
  • Layout Mode and groupings of controls. Sure, use them, arrange your controls how you like, but then right-click and Remove Layout when you're done with it. Don't leave it on.

Be careful of this stuff:

  • Adding VBA references to outside libraries. Version numbers and DLLs can change in future Office editions.

What can you think of? I know I've mentioned a lot of things in my 20+ years of teaching Access classes. But you know me... old brain can't rememeber it all...


Comments for Evil Access Stuff
Age Subject From
41 daysWhy Switchboards EvilThomas Gonder
2 monthsMultivaluedAlex Hedley
3 monthsOne Reason to Store AttachmentKevin Yip
6 monthsSpaces in Object NamesKevin Yip
8 monthsSubdatasheet Potential EvilScott Axton
8 monthsReferential IntegrityJeffrey Rainey
16 monthsNavigation FormScott Axton
16 monthsOffice Version RefsAlex Hedley
16 monthsSwitchboardAlex Hedley
16 monthsActiveX ControlsEdwards Christopher
16 monthsBackup OftenScott Axton
16 monthsAutonumbersAdam Schwanz


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