Synchronize your Access Forms, Macros, Modules, Queries, and Reports with a version control system. This is a collaborative effort.
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README.md

msaccess-vcs-integration

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Warning

This tool can delete / break things, take a backup before getting started.

About

Synchronize your Microsoft Access Database definition with a version control system.

Included in the export/import:

  • Queries
  • Forms
  • Reports
  • Macros
  • Modules
  • Table Data
  • Table Definitions
  • Table Data Macros

Not included in the export/import:

  • Customized toolbars, toolbar items, and menu items
  • Any external files
  • Pretty much anything that is not accessible by browsing the design, properties, and code of a Query, Form, Report, Macro, or Module object.

This code is built and tested on Microsoft Access 2010/2013. It will probably work in earlier/later versions, but YMMV.

This README shows how to synchronize all application code objects from an Access application with a source control system such as Mercurial or Git. (The provided import/export module is agnostic about the actual source control system you use.)

Encoding

For Access objects which are normally exported in UCS-2-little-endian encoding , the included module automatically converts to the source code to and from UTF-8 encoding during export/import; this is to ensure that you don't have trouble branching, merging, and comparing in tools such as Mercurial which treat any file containing 0x00 bytes as a non-diffable binary file.

Output

The module will put the files in a folder called source within the same folder as your database file. The import expects the files to be in the same folder.

Installing the Integration Scripts

For the purposes of these instructions, assume your database is called Application.accdb.

  1. Load VCS_Loader.bas into a new module in your database with that exact name.
  2. Go to the VBA editor (CTRL-G) and select "File" > "Import File..." (or you can just drag and drop the file from windows explorer into the vba editor module list).
  3. Select the VCS_Loader.bas file.
  4. Save the file (CTRL-S).
  5. Type "loadVCS" into the immediate window followed by the directory where the other VCS files are located. If you don't specify a directory then it is assumed that the VCS code is contained in a folder called 'MSAccess-VCS' in the database directory; e.g. loadVCS "C:\Users\MyUserAccount\Documents\Access-Proj\MSAccess-VCS\" - the trailing slash is required or loadVCS will not import the new modules.
  6. Edit your VCS_ImportExport and change the constant INCLUDE_TABLES to list any lookup tables that function more as part of your application code than as client data. (For example, "Countries", "Colors", and things like that.)

Updating UIRibbon

  1. Right click anywhere on the ribbon, click customize ribbon. rightClickRibbon
  2. Then click on Import/Export then click import customization file and open ./UIRibbon/FORM UPDATES.exportedUI. importCustomizationFile

Configuring export

By default, no table data is exported. You must specify which tables' data to include in the export/import process by editing the INCLUDE_TABLES variable in the supplied module. For example you might have "Countries" or "Colors" tables that populate dropdown lists. You shouldn't include regular data tables containing actual records, because this data doesn't belong in version control.

Additionally, if a type of data should not be exported, change the "Export_" constants to False in VCS_ImportExport.bas. Report, Query, Form, Macro, Module, and Table exports can be disabled individually.

Supplied databases

In the demo\ folder there's a blank database that you can use with to provide with your source-controlled files, or to test the import; and a demo database with a sample of all the things that this project can import/export for trying the project out and testing any code changes made to the project.

First Commit to Your Source Control System

  1. Create a repository in the folder containing your database.
  2. Compact and Repair Application.accdb and zip it to Application.zip using the Send to Compressed Folder command in Windows Explorer.
  3. Using your repository's tools, set the repository to ignore any .accdb and .laccdb files, and then add and commit the zipped Access binary file Application.zip. Use a commit message like "Initial commit of [name] at version [number]."
  4. Open the application, hit CTRL-G, and run the following VB code in the Immediate window: "ExportAllSource". Wait for the Immediate window to say the export job is "Done."
  5. Using your repository's tools, add and commit all the new files that were created in the source folder. Use a commit message like "Initial commit of all source code for [name] at version [number]".
  6. Publish your repository to your preferred central sharing location.

Committing New Progress and Pulling Changes from Other Developers

  1. Open the application, hit CTRL-G, and run the following VB code in the Immediate window: "ExportAllSource". Wait for the Immediate window to say the export job is "Done."
  2. Using your repository's tools, commit all the new files that were created in the source folder. Use an appropriate commit message to describe your changes.
  3. Pull new upstream changes (if any exist) from your central sharing location used by all developers. If necessary address any merge conflicts using your repository's merge and conflict resolution tools. If any work was done in this step, commit these changes to your local repository as well.
  4. Push all local and merged changes back to the central sharing location.
  5. Go back into the Access Immediate window (CTRL-G) and run the following VB code: "ImportAllSource". Wait for the Immediate window to say the export job is "Done."

Committing a New "Release" of Your Project

  1. There may be application changes that aren't covered in the source code for Forms, Macros, Modules, Queries, and Reports. To make sure these changes are recorded, Compact and Repair Application.accdb and zip it to Application.zip (replacing the old copy) using the Send to Compressed Folder command in Windows Explorer. Commit the new Application.zip to your repository with a commit message like "Full application binary for release [number]".
  2. Follow the usual steps in the previous section "Committing New Progress".
  3. Use your repository's "tag" function to tag your last commit with the release number/name.

Loading/updating a database from the exported files

  1. Create a new Access database (or use the supplied demo\blank.accdb).
  2. Follow the instructions for installing the scripts.
  3. Open the VBA editor (CTRL-G) and run the following VB code in the Immediate window: "ImportProject". You will be presented with a warning telling you that all database objects are about to be deleted, allowing you to cancel the operation if you change you mind.
  4. Wait until the code finishes executing, Compact and Repair the database.

Caveats

  • If you make changes to or add a new module, be sure to save it in the VB Editor window or else it will not be exported.
  • If you make any changes to the scripts used in this process, the VCS_ modules, they will not be automatically imported when any developer runs the ImportProject method. The code skips these files because it causes a conflict when trying to update a module that is actively being executed.

Contributing

Pull requests, issue reports etc welcomed.

https://github.com/timabell/msaccess-vcs-integration seems to currently be the most actively maintained branch, and Tim Abell will generally accept pull requests to keep the project alive but has minimal capacity to ensure correctness so please try and keep the quality as good as you can. Thanks! Several other people have been made collaborators to help keep the repo alive. Better ideas for running this project would be welcome https://github.com/timabell/msaccess-vcs-integration/issues/32

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