Panning for bits of excellence in the river of my mind …

More Access!

I’ve finally dusted off Camtasia and started making YouTube videos again. I actually put together a (more or less) complete Microsoft Access course last year and posted it on Udemy and Teachable. Then I got bogged down in some non-technical stuff and lost the momentum and some of my nerve.

It’s surprisingly hard for me to sit down and narrate a how-to video in the privacy of my own home and with the benefits of a full editing suite that actually makes me sound like a professional. There’s just a certain anxiety that pops up when I know that I have to sync intelligent commentary with the programming and design actions I’m performing on-screen. With practice, though, it gets easier … as long as I keep doing it regularly.

I’ve been posting technical articles for years and even written a few books. The text and image route seemed good enough and I resisted doing videos for a long time; I don’t remember exactly why. Maybe it was the level of hyper-branding that a number of the video channels do with slick intros and channel decorations. I already had my routine down with a couple sites and was doing okay.

After teaching a course in programming and having to scrounge for resources, I realize that, even on video channels, “slick” doesn’t matter so much as being able to supply quality content that doesn’t annoy the viewer into finding the next video that will meet their needs and get to the point. Calls to action and linkbacks are important for marketing but we can work on that. The content comes first.

I guess I’m doing something right. I’m up to 205 subscribers on YouTube without even trying.

Splitting a Database

My latest video is about how to split a Microsoft Access database into front-end and back-end files. I worked on a recent client project and had to the painful experience of trying to explain the concept of front-end / back-end to a non-technical data owner so I thought a video would be good.

The basic concept is this: Access can link to data from a number of different file formats including Excel, text files and other Access databases. This means that you can have an Access file with just the forms, reports, queries and other user interface elements that links to the data in other files. This is called the “front-end” because it’s the user-facing part of the application. The data files are the “back-end”.

This approach separates the UI and programming from the data which means that you can store the data on a network server and then each user can have their own copy of the front-end that links back to the same data. That means that you don’t have dozens of users trying to open the same front-end file which reduces demand on your program. It also means that you can make changes to to UI design in the front-end and distribute that new file to the users without overwriting their data which is in a separate file anyway.

I need to do a few more Access videos to round out the course, I should be able to knock them out in the next week or so if I focus and stay away from Satisfactory.

Also Camtasia had the annoying habit of crashing while I was editing yesterday. I did a search online and found out a lot of people had the same problem. Then I found out there was an update available to I applied that last night, played around with editing a new test video and everything seemed okay. I hope it’s okay – it cost me some money and it’s otherwise too good of a program to move away from.