Review: Total Visual CodeTools for Access 2002

Smart AccessSmart Access, Pinnacle Publishing
Mike Gunderloy
February 28, 2002

Sometimes you run across a product that fairly screams, "We eat our own dog food," (which, if you don't know, is a Microsoft catchphrase that emphasizes the importance of internal beta testing in producing good products). Such a product is Total Visual Code Tools 2002, the latest revision of this set of VB and VBA helpers from FMS. Running in Office 2000, Office XP, and VB 6.0, TVCT provides a set of builders and cleanup tools to help any VB/VBA developer. I'd be willing to bet that these tools were first developed to help FMS write their own products, and later released to the public.

At the core of TVCT is a file that maintains all of your coding standards: the prefixes you use for variables, the commenting style you prefer, the way you like your error handlers structured, and so on. These standards can be shared with other developers by passing a single file around, making it possible to get everyone working on a project to write code that looks roughly the same. The standards are also used by the Builders, a set of dialog boxes that create common objects for you: procedures, properties, recordset code, SELECT CASE statements, and so on. Launch a builder, fill in some options (like the procedure name), click a button, and watch the finished code get injected directly into your project (or, if you prefer, to the clipboard, a file, or a text editor).

In addition to creating new objects, TVCT can clean up your code. There are two different tools in this category. The Code Cleanup tool goes through and standardizes existing code, while the Code Delivery tool adds line numbers, renames variables, and otherwise obfuscates your product when you're ready to ship. A final set of tools does some other little tasks, like managing VBE colors, clearing the Immediate Window, or commenting out blocks of code.

If you've ever worked on a multi-developer project without coding standards, you know how much of a mess it can be. Enforcing standards by sending out memos is often a losing battle. With TVCT, you can slip the standards in as part of a productivity tool set -- and expect that people will actually conform. Also worth a look if you ever expect to go back and try to maintain your own code. Don't overlook the Help file, either -- rather than just describing the product, it's also got a long and useful section on VBA best practices.

Total Visual CodeTools User manual

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