Preparing Microsoft Access

Our focus on MS Access this month is not an endorsement, per se, but because it is an easy-to-learn and popular database application. Of course, we're not going to spend time on the ins and outs of using the Access interface ... suffice it to say, this article will have to assume that you have or can figure out how to create a database within Access. To help follow along, you might consider re-creating the sample database we featured earlier in this article, named clients, with two tables, billing and invoices.

Now, let's cut to the chase: you have a database ready-to-go in Microsoft Access and you're chomping at the bit to start coding a Perl-based query script. First, you'll have to register your Access database with Windows' ODBC, or Open Database Connectivity, control. This will allow our Perl modules to "speak" with the Access database, as they share a common communication protocol. You can find the ODBC control in the Windows Control Panel. Launch the ODBC Data Sources control panel and select the System DSN tab.

You can see that we've already added our clients database to ODBC; you can do this by clicking "Add", selecting the "Microsoft Access Driver (*.mdb)", and then Finish. The next window lets you select a Data Source Name, or DSN, which is the name of this database as you'll refer to it from your Perl script. We chose Clients (Windows systems are generally case insensitive, although Perl itself is case sensitive), as well as the actual database file you wish to register. Voila! -- Perl will now be able to talk to your Access database courtesy of the ODBC protocol.

Now that your Access database has been created and registered with Windows' ODBC control panel, we can turn our attention away from Access-specific information and look to Perl and all the wonders within....