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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    14

    Mixing database and word processing

    Hi.

    I am trying to design a database for requirements tracing for product specifications. I will link 3 or more documents documents together that are basically in MS word format.

    I am using MS access for databases until now, and this is easy to make a database where I can re-type each paragraph into a field and then relate that paragraph to one ore more paragraphs in another record.

    My problem is that I would like to use rich text (bold, underlined words) and diagrams (pictures) as content in these paragraphs and MS access 2003 does not support this.

    If I could use HTML fields and then combine the output dependent on a query that would be perfect. I really want to be able to something similar like dynamic web pages do, but locally.

    I have had the following ideas to achieve what I want to do:

    1. Use the poor dhtml active x plugin in Access and somehow output contents to HTML
    2. Use MySQL database with PHP and a Web Server and have a little HTML editor like on this forum to edit records. (but I prefer a local database)
    3. Make a XML database that could be translated in openoffice writer (because it seems better XML than word) for editing the text (but I don't really know xml)
    4. Use database fields in MS Word that parse formatting text/images.

    As you might tell I don't really know where to start.

    It seems dynamic content is ONLY used for web pages, and databases ONLY are used to store text and number fields.

    Is there a solution to combine them both? Can I do this in Access? or is ASP/PHP or even XML/HTML the way to go?

    I have been looking on the net for ages, and have ended up confused. If I know what will offer the best solution, I can start to learn that database or whatever in more detail.

    Hope someone can help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    11,434
    Sounds to me like the best solution miight be to store the html tags within the text field in your database?
    George
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Baghdad, Iraq
    Posts
    697
    Quote Originally Posted by dazzler77
    Hi.

    I am trying to design a database for requirements tracing for product specifications. I will link 3 or more documents documents together that are basically in MS word format.

    I am using MS access for databases until now, and this is easy to make a database where I can re-type each paragraph into a field and then relate that paragraph to one ore more paragraphs in another record.

    My problem is that I would like to use rich text (bold, underlined words) and diagrams (pictures) as content in these paragraphs and MS access 2003 does not support this.
    There are rich text ActiveX controls for Access out there. Here's one I found with a quick search. I've never used it, but the web page seems to have info on setting it up.

    If I could use HTML fields and then combine the output dependent on a query that would be perfect. I really want to be able to something similar like dynamic web pages do, but locally.
    Like PHP or Cold Fusion.

    I have had the following ideas to achieve what I want to do:

    1. Use the poor dhtml active x plugin in Access and somehow output contents to HTML
    Not big on that approach, myself. There's very little reason to do this in Access when just about any other setup is better.

    2. Use MySQL database with PHP and a Web Server and have a little HTML editor like on this forum to edit records. (but I prefer a local database)
    That would work, but it requires throwing out everything you've got and starting over again with MySQL/PHP/Apache. The biggest issue is that it sounds like you want a double-clickable app, which is theoretically possible with that system, but in practice is a major PITA.

    3. Make a XML database that could be translated in openoffice writer (because it seems better XML than word) for editing the text (but I don't really know xml)
    This isn't what XML is designed for, and it's the worst way to approach this problem.

    4. Use database fields in MS Word that parse formatting text/images.
    My problem with doing merges in Word is that when the user opens the document, it immediately wants to access the data source. So a naive user sees this dialog demanding a data source and if it's changed in the slightest, Word gives them no help with it. Also, I highly doubt a merge would allow you to fold in formatted text since Word won't be expecting anything formatted from a DBMS.

    Is there a solution to combine them both? Can I do this in Access? or is ASP/PHP or even XML/HTML the way to go?
    Yes. Access can use VBA to automate Word and do the merges that way. It's not fast, but it's far quicker to develop since you're not screwing around with HTML code or that sort of thing.

    This would probably be the most straightforward approach, in my opinion. I'll see if I can hack together an example database file to get you started... it might take me a few days.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    14
    georgev,
    Thanks for the sugestion, however the target users for this database have limited computer knowledge, and won't even know what html tags are, so I could store the tags in the text field, but it can't be visible to the user.

    sco08y,
    Thank you so much for the detailed reply and for understanding what I am trying to do. Since my post I've been tying to learn PHP and so far got a blank web page with a tinyMCE box accessing a mysql database, on a portable web server, but it'll take a looong while before I have something remotely useable.

    That would work, but it requires throwing out everything you've got and starting over again with MySQL/PHP/Apache
    yep - it aint as easy starting over. (which is what i've started doing)

    Yes. Access can use VBA to automate Word and do the merges that way. It's not fast, but it's far quicker to develop since you're not screwing around with HTML code or that sort of thing.
    OK this sounds good - like it could be promising (although I don't completely understand how you would do that)

    I'll see if I can hack together an example database file to get you started...
    wow that would be fantastic if you could do that - just something to get me in the right direction! thanks

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Baghdad, Iraq
    Posts
    697
    Hey, I haven't forgotten you, but the real world is being rather demanding at the moment. Should have something Real Soon Now.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    14
    hey Thanks sco08y,

    I know what you mean.

    I'll keep a look out for it.

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