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Community submitted templates are now live on Office Online!! "Er?" You say, "what has this to do with me?" I'm so glad you asked!!
For the first time ever, there is now a Microsoft hosted service through which you can publish and share database applications with the community at large. OfficeOnline is the template service that Microsoft uses to host its own document templates, and it is extremely popular, with 2.8 million Access 2007 template downloads for since Jan of 07. For 2007 it has been opened up for publication by anyone who has access to the web. Initially this support was just for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but as of mid-December you can now publish and share your own Access apps and samples through this service. Your templates get integrated directly into the system so users searching the site for a specific type of template will find your .accdt files right alongside the ones Microsoft has published. Community submitted templates are marked with a little red pawn, so users can distinguish them from Microsoft supplied templates, and as with the ones Microsoft publishes, each community template has a rating of 1-5 stars set by the community, and a count of downloads. Here's an example:
NOTE: In order to be able to browse templates submitted by the community, you must choose moderate or unfiltered for the "Community Filter" at the left hand side of the page.
Now, I would love to be able to tell you that you can publish any application created with any version of Access to the site. For the first iteration this isn't going to be the case. For this version of the service, we've made an explicit decision to limit the functionality which can be uploaded in a template to features which don't automatically act on the user's behalf to edit or upload data, or to invoke functionality that would otherwise affect things outside the database. We're intentionally beginning with a very tight set of restrictions, with the intention of testing the system out and understanding the space better before we turn on more advanced functionality.
Here are the requirements for a template published to OfficeOnline:
"What?" you say, "But I put VBA in everything!" Yes. I know you do. We want to enable this scenario eventually, but not for this round. There are a ton of really interesting things you can build and share on the template service which do not use code. You still have the full power of Access tables, queries, and reports, and you can build user-interface logic in forms using Access 2007's new embedded macro technology. Plus are a slew of interesting ways to slice data through the use of Queries and Expressions, and you can definitely build and share those. Here are some ideas of things which might be interesting to publish as templates:
You can even build a fully functional data tracking application should you so choose. As an example, check out the cool little wedding tracking application built to help couples prepare for the big day by built by Abigail Short, one of the developers on the Access team (thank you Abigail!).
There are two key tools that everyone creating Access templates will want to take advantage of.
Here's what you need to do to get your template submitted to Office Online:
You can find some information about Access 2007 templates here:
If you're looking for a more complete reference, we've arranged a deal with with Rational Press for blog readers to have a 35% discount on their title "The Rational Guide to Microsoft® Office Access 2007 Templates" by yours truly. The book assumes that readers will have the need to create safe templates like the ones required to upload to Office Online, and I include a detailed explanation of how to create interesting codeless solutions.
Great Stuff! The code restrictions limit functionality, but I have just uploaded a Meeting Tracker template. Btw, I can't install the NET 3.0 Framework to run the Validator. The installer breaks while downloading the files. I am running WinXP PRO SP2 with all the hotfixes, so I suspect this is a general issue that needs attention.
Whenever I open Access team blog a pop-up (Save As) dialog appears. Is it possible to remove it, pls?
Tony: AWESOME!! I love that people are getting involved so quickly! I'd expect .Net 3.0 to work in your environment... I wonder if this is just an intermittent network connection problem. Can I ask you try try again? Vladimir: Hmm, I'm not seeing the pop-up you describe. What happens when you save, what do you get? Also, what is your browser?
I see, it looks like GetRight is finding the template validator download link and offering to download it for you automatically. Is that what GetRight is supposed to be doing?
Zac: GetRight is supposed to do it only when I click an appropriate link.