Editable XML Report Export



At the serious risk of labeling myself an XML "newbie", I submit to the forum
that I have a client problem where I think the solution lies in XML, but I
think it's going to take tweaking beyond the scope of my knowledge and what
the wizard can produce by itself.

Here's what the client needs:
1. Export of a single report, in an editable format, that can be attached to
and sent in an Email.
2. The edited contents of the report must be able to be received by a
clerical person and, with automation that I provide, changed data is updated
in the database.
3. There is only 1 field in the report that will be edited by the Email

Obviously, an rtf file is an option but the client has already put a lot of
effort into formatting this report and it does include graphics. I've
noticed that the output of xml/xsl files with an html "front end" file looks
fantastic, but the fields are definitely not editable. Oh, and BTW, the
client is using Access 2003. Isn't there a way to perhaps tweak the property
tag on a field to make it editable? If I could get that part of the problem
solved I think I can roll with the rest.

What say you, forum!?

(Thanks a million)



Larry Linson

Reports are not really intended for transferring data, but for presenting
data for display. Perhaps if you'd explain what you have and what you are
trying to accomplish, rather than how you wanted to do it, someone could be
of help.

Larry Linson
Microsoft Office Access MVP



I have a report that needs to be transferred via Email to a single recipient
(who does not have direct access to the database file). One of the fields on
the report is intended to illicit a response from the recipient. When the
recipient responds (presumably by editing the field on the report), they ask
that I provide automation to get the response back into the appropriate
field/record in the database.

I understand that, traditionally and typically, Access reports are indended
to be a "one-way" communication of presented data. I was asked to do this an
am attempting to do proof of concept work to to see if/how difficult it would
be to accomplish.

Larry Linson

Are you, perchance, using Access 2007? It has a feature for sending e-mail
from Access, and the recipient edits an e-mail response with data, which is
then e-mailed back and incorporated into the database. I suspect that would
be appropriate for what you want to do, and suggest you start at the
Microsoft "Office Online" site and see what you can find on the subject --
http://office.microsoft.com would be the starting point. I have not
personally used the feature, but have seen it demonstrated.

Seems to me you have two goals: (1) send the Report data to a particular
user and (2) have that user send you some data which you process. It seemed
a good idea to you that you combine them. One problem is that Access 2003
and earlier don't have a straightforward approach to receiving data by
e-mail... you may, indeed, be able to experiment and do something with XML
formatting to allow the user to respond in some way. "XML" is not "magic",
though -- it can't, on its own, send e-mail.

When you do manage to get the e-mail sent, receiving the response and
getting the data into the DB is going to be another challenge.

Could you install a separate database application or program for the users?
There's good information at many "classic VB" websites on sending data from
one VB application to another via WinSock (Windows Sockets). I've seen that
done, to good effect, essentially turning a VB app with a Jet database on a
server into a "mini server DB". That seems "close" to what you want to do,
and you can use WinSock with an Access database as well as with a VB
application -- because the core libraries for VB6 and recent VBA are the
same, you can probably use WinSock code examples with little, or no,
alteration. I don't think it will be, exactly, "a piece of cake" but
doesn't seem to be "rocket science" either.

On the other hand, that new Access 2007 feature is so very close to what you
want to do that I strongly recommend looking into using it. I just do not
have the experience with it to be of help more than just this "general"
advice. If I remember correctly, the recipient who sends back data does not
have to have Access installed. So you might be talking about only one copy
of Office 2007.

Larry Linson
Microsoft Office Access MVP




Once the XSL transformation takes place it them becomes HTML code. The user
could technically open up the HTML in MS Word or something and make the
changes and then email the HTML back. However, you would them need to run the
HTML (which is just XML) through another XSL transformation to get it back to
the original XML format. However, the results may be unpredictable depending
on what the other user has done (and what MS Word does) to the HTML. This
would be a shady solution.

Editing the "transformed" HTML will not directly change the underlying XML.
This is a one-way process.

Have you looked at using Microsoft Office InfoPath at all. I haven't it
used it a lot but I believe you can bind XML data directly to an editable
user interface based on an XML schema. It would require that the end
recipient have InfoPath installed on their machine but would allow you to
keep your XML pure.

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