The Documenter is an elegant Access tool. It enables you to selectively produce varying levels of documentation for each object in a database. To use the Documenter, follow these steps:
Make sure that the Database window is the active window.
Choose Tools | Analyze | Documenter. The Documenter dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 21.11.
Select the appropriate tab to select the type of object you want to document. To document a table, for example, you click the Tables tab.
Enable the check box to the left of each object that you want to document. You can click the Select All button to select all objects shown on a tab.
Click the Options button to refine the level of detail provided for each object. Depending on which object type you selected, the Documenter displays different options. (The next section of this hour, "Using the Documenter Options," covers Documenter options.)
Repeat steps 3?5 to select all the database objects you want to document.
Click OK when you are ready to produce the documentation.
To document all objects in a database, you click the All Object Types tab and then click Select All.
Access can take quite a bit of time to produce the requested documentation, particularly if you select numerous objects. For this reason, you should not begin the documentation process if you will soon need your computer to accomplish other tasks. While Access is processing this task, switching to another application becomes difficult, if not impossible. How difficult it is depends on the amount of RAM installed on your system as well as the type of processor (CPU) installed on your computer and its speed.
To document the properties of a database or the relationships between the tables in a database, you can click the Current Database tab and select Properties or Relationships.
After you select all the desired objects and options and click OK, the Object Definition window appears. You can use this window to view the documentation output for the objects you selected (see Figure 21.12). This window is just like any other Print Preview window; you can use it to view each page of the documentation and send the documentation to the printer.
By default, the Documenter outputs a huge volume of information for each selected object. For example, the Documenter documents each control on a form, including every property of a control. It is easy to produce 50 pages of documentation for a couple database objects. Besides being a tremendous waste of paper, this volume of information is overwhelming to review. Fortunately, you can refine the level of detail provided by the Documenter for each category of object you are documenting. To do so, you just click the Options button in the Documenter dialog box.
Figure 21.13 shows the table definition options. Notice that you can specify whether you want to print table properties, relationships, and permissions by user and group. You also can indicate the level of detail you want to display for each field: Nothing; Names, Data Types, and Sizes; or Names, Data Types, Sizes, and Properties. For table indexes, you can opt to include the following: Nothing; Names and Fields; or Names, Fields, and Properties.
If you select the Queries tab in the Documenter dialog box and then click Options, the Print Query Definition dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 21.14. Here, you can select the level of detail the Documenter will output for the selected queries. You can choose whether to include properties, SQL, parameters, relationships, and permissions by user and group for the query. You also can select the level of detail for each column of the query and for the indexes involved in the query.
The form and report options are similar to one another. Figure 21.15 shows the Print Form Definition dialog box. Here, you can specify whether you want to print properties, code, and permissions by user and group for a form. For each control on a form, you can choose to print nothing, the names of the controls, or the names and properties of the controls. The Print Report Definition dialog box offers the same options. Both dialog boxes offer a Properties button, which you use to designate the categories of properties that the Documenter prints. You can opt to print other properties, event properties, data properties, or format properties.
For macros, you can choose whether you want to print macro properties, actions and arguments, or permissions by user and group. For modules, you can choose to view properties, code, and permissions by user and group.
As you can see, the Documenter gives you great flexibility in choosing the level of detail it should provide. Of course, if you haven't filled in the properties of an object (for example, the Description property), it does you no good to ask the Documenter to print those properties.
After you produce documentation and it appears in the Object Definition Print Preview window, you can output that documentation to other formats. From the Print Preview window for a report, you choose File | Export. The Export Report dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 21.16. You can output the documentation to Microsoft Excel, HTML, text files, Rich Text Format (.RTF) files, snapshot format, or XML. You need to enter the filename, select Save As Type, and then click Export. If you select the Autostart check box, the Documenter creates the file and then launches the appropriate application, depending on the computer's registry entries. If Microsoft Internet Explorer is the application associated with the file extension .HTML, for example, Autostart launches Internet Explorer with the Documenter output loaded when you output to an HTML file. Similarly, if you choose a Microsoft Excel file format and Excel is associated through the registry with the .XLS file extension, Autostart launches Excel with the output loaded in Excel when the process is complete. The same holds true for the other file types?.RTF and .TXT and their respective registry associations, which are usually Word and Notepad.