16 May 2007

Real World Access (24)

One of a series of articles about where Microsoft Office Access applications have found a real-world niche.

 Rick Brandt's Document Management

Handling documentation creation and submission for a large field organization. These people previously had many paper documents that they had to mail or fax to the corporate office.

The application has a database for each document type. This allows for all of the control typical of such an application for error checking, duplicate avoidance, and status tracking.

Once "documents" are created in the application they can be submitted to the corporate database over the internet using HTTP requests to web service programs running on the corporate web server. The same HTTP mechanism is used to download data from the corporate databases down to the client program. This is used for lookup table updates, retrieving records lost to hardware problems and for initial security setup.

This provides a good combination of a local database that is useful even when internet connectivity is not available, and the ability to leverage the internet for data interchange.

One of the "cooler" features in this app is for the document that must accompany parts returned to the factory for repair or warranty replacement. Previously a paper document was attached to the part. Now that record is sent in over the internet and the application allows for a small barcode label to be printed and affixed to the part. At the receiving facility they just scan the barcode and the appropriate electronic document is immediately referenced and the data made available.

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