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Down to Business

While we’re focusing on a movie database, I hope you’re also thinking of other uses for the basic concept. In an office, for example, a common use for the directory concept is a contact directory (online or printed) that shows employees how to reach each other. Such a directory is especially useful if it helps you identify people whose faces you recognize, but whose names you don’t. Or vice versa.

In the case of a movie database, it might be useful to have photographs of the cast, a photo of the director, or even some photos from the movie itself. Rather than risk legal/copyright problems by copying such pictures to your computer, let’s link to them instead. In fact, because Access cannot store pictures, linking is really the only choice.

In Word, if you have your movie document file open, close it. You’re about to modify the database structure, which cannot be done while the Word file that uses it is open.

Open Access and then open the database file you’ve been using throughout this article series. Accept the defaults for any dialog boxes you encounter. Once open (see Figure 6), right-click movies and choose Design View.

Click in the blank cell below the final field name (Review in my database) and type Photo. You can name it something else if you prefer. Click the drop-down arrow in the Data Type field and examine the types of data available to you, as shown in Figure 7. Do you see anything that looks like picture? Me, neither.

OLE Object looks potentially related, as does Hyperlink. As it turns out, OLE Objects can be displayed within an Access report, but not by Word when doing a mail merge. And with Hyperlinks, unlike Internet Explorer, Access will display only the link’s name, not the picture that’s linked. And when used by a Word mail merge, Word merely echoes a clickable link, rather than displaying the picture. So, are we stuck?

Maybe not. All this really means is that OLE Object and Hyperlink aren’t the data types we want. So what data type do we want because the two most obvious candidates didn’t pan out? We want something that will display plain text!

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