Microsoft Access 2016
and 2013 Versions
New Version 12.9 for
Version 11.8 for
Versions 10.7 and 9.7 for
"Total Access Detective is well worth every penny, it will quickly pay for itself through savings in time and effort."
Tom Cryan, Denver Access User Group product review
Total Access Detective has two primary modes of operation. One mode compares objects within the same database file, or within two separate .MDB files. Some of the finer points in running comparison include such items as:
When comparing modules or CBF, Total Access Detective lets the user adjust the number of lines to resynchronize. When a difference is detected in a module, Total Access Detective shows the new lines of code, plus the line where the code is resynchronized between two modules. You're able to fine tune which changes are detected and shown.
In addition to synchronizing module or macro lines, you can ignore or include indentation in the comparison. If you want to know every possible difference between two modules, turn this option off. Even differences in spacing or tabs will be flagged.
While Total Access Detective can report on security settings, keep in mind that you need to have all rights to the objects your interested in. Ideally, you'd want to be the owner of those objects, or have Admin privileges, or be a member of the Admins group. If you don't have permissions on certain objects, you won't be able to run Total Access Detective against those objects.
It's possible to create queries based on the output tables generated by Total Access Detective, which lets you manipulate the data in the files that were documented.
When comparing two separate Access files, you must run a preparatory step before Total Access Detective compares modules between both files. This preparation is needed, since Access doesn't allow a wizard or add-in to retrieve modules that aren't located in the current database. In addition, because of an undocumented feature in Access (a bug, really), you might have to open the database exclusively for this preparatory step. When comparing two databases, Total Access Detective creates a separate (preparatory) file with the extension .DDB.
The following illustrations show the output generated by the Detective in a sample session. I've added several fields to tables in the Access sample application NWIND.MDB, as well as changed one procedure very slightly and added an AutoExec macro. The purpose of this example is purely illustrative; if this was a production database, you may easily have pages of information to view. If that happens, Total Access Detective provides provides filters for each and every property that was found to be different, letting you concentrate on just the change you want to deal with.
Having selected two database fields for comparison, Total Access Detective shows the user a list of objects contained in each file:
At this point, you can see differences in the object inventories of the database files. By selecting the Show Unmatched button, the user is presented a list of differences:
This quick overview doesn't show detailed differences between objects having the same name. To obtain that information, Total Access Detective must run an analysis that compares each object in Database 1 to the object of the same name in Database 2. The result of this analysis is shown:
In addition, you can filter the results in a variety of ways:
One of the most useful features of Total Access Detective in a multi-programmer environment is the ability to pinpoint code changes. As part of the example session, I've added a statement to one of the utility functions in NWIND.MDB. As you can see, Total Access Detective had no trouble picking up the change:
Even more impressive, you can set the sensitivity of module comparison by un-checking the "Ignore Indents" setting. When you do this, even changes in indentation are picked up as differences.
At the beginning of this review, I mentioned that the basic purpose of Total Access Detective is to perform comparisons between objects in one or more database files.
Figure 8 shows the output generated after the Customer table was copied to Customers_Old and several fields in the original Customers table were deleted.
When running comparison between objects within the same file, the Detective is activated just like any other Wizard from within the Add-ins men.
Similar to other products by FMS, Inc., Total Access Detective fills a definite need. It isn't quite a full featured version control program, yet it's much better suited to the task of change control than the Access documentation wizard. it's fast, efficient, and at the risk of sounding corny, "a very cool tool." I highly recommend Total Access Detective, particularly if your work involves making many changes over a period of time.
A consultant and author in Los Angeles, Thomas Wagner's clients include Walt Disney Studios, First Interstate Bank, and AlliedSignal Aerospace. He's co-author of The Visual Guide to Microsoft Access for Windows 95 (Ventana Press).