Review: Total Access Analyzer

Total Access Analyzer for Access 2003 Preview
FMS, Inc.
Vienna, Virginia
(703) 356-4700

FMS has been writing Access add-ins for a decade now, and they've got smart and topnotch Access developers on the job. So when you run Total Access Analyzer, you really get two things in one package. First, you get a tool that will document and cross-reference your entire database in incredible detail. Second, you get the benefit of all those years of experience in the form of practical advice on errors, performance issues, and general suggestions.

Analyzer runs as an Access add-in; you open the database that you want to analyze and then launch it from the Access menus. Then you pick the objects that you want to analyze and turn it loose. Depending on the size of the database, this can take quite a while, thanks to the huge amount of information collected. When the product is done poking and prodding your database, you return to its main menu. From here, you'll probably want to select the Documentation Explorer, which lets you go through the documentation in detail. You can also search or print the documentation, as well as do incremental runs to track the development of your database.

The documentation is about as detailed as you can possibly imagine - every property of every object, plus everything cross-referenced (both object references and code references). It's all well-organized in a series of grids, and you can drill in to find suggestions applicable to particular items easily. In addition, Analyzer will produce application, data flow, and object diagrams that show you how the pieces of the database fit together. This is especially useful when you're trying to understand a database that you inherited.

New features for this version include Access 2003 compatability, the ability to flag suggestions as "reviewed" when you determine that you don't need to change anything (and suppress them from future runs), and quick jumps from suggestions to the objects in question. All in all, this is the best version of TA Analyzer yet. You can try it for free while it's in preview, and if you're doing serious Access work, you'll probably want to buy it when you can.


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