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Programming Stacks Available with Act + Transparency of SQL Server under Act Wrapper

New Member
Posts: 1
Country: USA

Programming Stacks Available with Act + Transparency of SQL Server under Act Wrapper

I have a customer who asked me to do some Excel & Access VBA work, but on learning more about his project I discovered that he is using an ACT CRM which, apparently, is built on top of a SQL Server database, and I am wondering if the customer might not be better served by directly implementing the function he needs directly within this same instance of SQL Server. But ACT is a turnkey system with which I have ZERO familiarity. I do not know

 

  • If the underlying SQL server is accessible and can be commandeered for others purposes without colliding with the ACT CRM wrapper
  • What technology stacks are available

I noticed on a cursory inspection of this forum that there are posts with Visual Basic code in them. Can one access both SQL server and ACT data tables using Visual Basic?

 

Final question: In case I decide to refer my client to a more experienced ACT consultant, where can I find such a resource?

 

Thanks, - John Strong

Email: john.strong@etherpros.com

Nickel Contributor
Posts: 175
Country: USA

Re: Programming Stacks Available with Act + Transparency of SQL Server under Act Wrapper

I'll take the easy one first, where can you find more experienced consultants. There are a number of them that utilize this board, and I wouldn't be surprised if they'll respond. Otherwise, there is just searching online, which would probably be preferable if you want to find a local consultant.

 

Onto ACT itself. ACT's SQL Server instance is locked down. To get full command of the instance, your customer would need to buy the SA password. Otherwise, there is an API that you can use to interface with the ACT application and/or the data. You can create a plug-in for ACT or a separate application, depending on the needs (I've never created a plug-in, as I only ever needed to access the data, never the application itself). The ACT API is a .NET API, so you can use whichever .NET language you want. C# and VB.NET are the most popular. This forum is basically for said API.

 

As for the task at hand, there are a number of options. Without having any of the details, I can think of 3 possible architectures (there are going to be more though). One, just what your customer asked; Excel, Access, and VBA. Two, completely utilizing ACT and its API, developing a one-off solution with custom entities/sub-entities. Last, using a combination of ACT and a new, separate instance of SQL Server Express (could be on the same machine as ACT), with a .NET application that utilizes data from both spots to accomplish the task.

 

It would be great if you could provide at least a general outline of the task, as that would help everyone here provide you with potential ideas and solutions.

Tuned Listener
Posts: 29
Country: United States

Re: Programming Stacks Available with Act + Transparency of SQL Server under Act Wrapper

I saw one reply but haven’t fully read it. But I will give my thoughts, from a user of ACT for more than 20 years. The one reply that the ACT SQL Server database (Express or otherwise) is locked down. That is partially true. However, especially with the non-free versions of SQL Server, it is straightforward to get access to the underlying SQL Server tables, etc. I have done this for myself (I use ACT to track and schedule my time) as well as for three different clients. If you wish, we can talk off-line about how to do this. Having said that you can get access, I have mainly used this to create reports or to extract data. Although I have done some data updates directly to records, this is not recommended nor would I recommend it in general. For the most part, the database structure is straightforward, in my opinion it is best to use the ACT API to add or modify records. Just safer in my opinion. As to how easy it is to access data directly in the database, depends mainly on your experience working with databases. Basically, ACT is logical in its approach. I do not find it very hard to directly access the data for my work. But I have been working with computers for over 40 years and databases for over 30 years. If you understand ADO operations using VBA (or other languages), then accessing the SQL database is just like any other database. I access mine via Access regularly without issue. Tom
Tom Gueth
Knowledge Resource
Binary Star Technology, Inc