Review: Total Visual CodeTools for Access 2002
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.
FMS, by the way, is now getting into the .NET tool
space. Take a look at
this link to see some of their plans.