DB2 9 and Microsoft Access 2007: Working with your DB2 Data in Access 2007

Monday Apr 28th 2008 by Paul Zikopoulos

Part one of this series discussed using Access 2007 as a graphical front end to a back-end DB2 data server. Part two examines how to leverage DB2 as an integration layer, and demonstrates some of the business rules that Access 2007 maintains when presenting DB2 data to information workers.

In the first part of this series, I showed you how to use Access 2007 as a graphical front end to a back-end DB2 data server. Specifically, I showed you how to implement linked tables and create an abstraction layer over those linked tables such that information workers can work with business artifacts directly without worrying about different naming conventions; all the while, the data resides in a DB2 data server and there is virtually no hit to productivity. In this article, I want to delve deeper into what you can do with the data that resides in those linked tables, add more tables to our Access 2007 front end to show how to leverage DB2 as an integration layer, and demonstrate some of the business rules that Access 2007 maintains when presenting DB2 data to information workers.

Before you start

This series assumes that you’ve linked the DatabaseJournalAccess2DB2 Access 2007 database created in Part 1 to the ORG, EMPLOYEE, STAFF, DEPT, and INVENTORY tables in the DB2 SAMPLE database and created an abstraction layer over those tables such that the All Tables view looks like this:

If you need help getting to this point, check out “DB2 9 and Microsoft Access 2007 Part 1: Getting the Data...”.

Working with DB2 data in Access 2007

At this point, you’ve got some linked tables set up for a number of tables that reside in the SAMPLE DB2 database. As previously mentioned, you can easily see any of the data these tables hold by double-clicking the table in the All Tables view. In the following figure, I opened the Staff business object, which links to the STAFF table in the SAMPLE database:

As you can see in the previous figure, Access 2007 returns the data for a given table in a native Microsoft data grid. This provides you with a usable way in which to work with your data.

Note: The term data grid refers to the Access 2007 object that houses a data set. A data set is the set of data that is returned by a query, stored procedure, linked table, and so on. A data grid is used to display a data set to information workers in Access 2007. In this article, I refer to these terms. When I refer to a data grid, I’m referring to any of the operational controls that Access 2007 allows you to perform; for example: . When I refer to the data set, I mean data; for example, in the previous figure, is part of the data set.

Consider the result set from the query SELECT * FROM STAFF when run from the DB2 command line processor (DB2 CLP) against the SAMPLE database:

You can easily add a record to the STAFF table, through the Staff linked table, using Access 2007. To add a record to a data set, scroll down to the bottom of an Access 2007 data grid, locate the empty cell, and use it to add a new row. An asterisk (*) denotes this input row. For this example, add a new row as follows:

Notice that when you begin to edit a row, an edit icon () appears in the left margin of the data grid of the row you are editing. This icon denotes that you are changing or adding data to a data set (in this case, the STAFF table).

You can alter existing data in the data set’s rows as well. For example, for employee Gafney, change his job to Mgr by overwriting Clerk. You can put focus on this row by clicking any field in the row and Access 2007 will highlight the row to show you that the focus has changed.

When you have finished making changes to a row, simply click elsewhere in the data grid and shift focus away from the row you just changed (or added).

Note: If you press Enter while editing a field, Access 2007 changes focus to the next field in the row.

The color of the margin in the data grid changes according to the action you are performing. By default, the whole row is selected. (An orange line surrounded the entire row when you selected it in the previous figure.) When you change a specific column, the orange focus surrounds the field being changed and the margin marker () turns orange () to show you have changed focus on a specific field in a specific row. As you change the data, the margin marker will show the change icon again ().

To commit any changes you make, click the , as shown below:

If you ran the same query in the DB2 CLP, you would see these changes. (I’m showing you the results in the DB2 CLP so you can see that changes are occurring; of course, you could simply reopen the data grid to see them as well):

If you’re a database administrator (DBA) and you’re reading this article, you may be having a bit of a fit right now imagining all sort of devious data corruption incidents that you’re going to be on the hook for. You can relax: Access 2007 keeps the authorization profiles that are assigned to users in DB2. In other words, if you don’t have write access to a table (or if a table is removed) then you won’t be able to write to it.

In the following figure, you can see that I gave Chloe access to the STAFF table, but only for read operations:

Now if user Chloe uses Access 2007 to see data in the STAFF table, she will be able to view the data, but won’t be able to make any of the changes I detailed above. For example, if Chloe tried to make the following change to the ORG table:

Access 2007 would return the following error messages:

You can also see that Chloe doesn’t have access to the ORG table either (which she sees as Organization in Access 2007):

If she tries to access this table through Access 2007, she will receive the following error message:

This authorization enforcement is dynamic: a DBA’s changes to the authorization semantics for a given set of database objects are effective immediately.

Besides altering and inserting data, you can delete data from the data grid as well if you have the right privileges:

Now if you look at the STAFF table you would see that this row no longer exists:

But you can see that the change made to employee 350 is still here, which shouldn’t be surprising.

Access 2007 will honor advanced table features such as generated columns, sequences, and so on. For example, create a table called COMPLAINTS using the following DDL (substitute your own schema for PAULZ where appropriate):


Now add COMPLAINTS as a linked table to your Access 2007 database and add some values to the table. Using the Access 2007 data grid, you can add new rows, leaving the COMPLAINTNUMBER column empty in the data set since it will be automatically generated by DB2. When you save the changes and reopen the data grid, you will see that the generated columns were added to the base table:

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What happens if you tried to specify an explicit value for the COMPLAINTNUMBER column; well, just as if you tried to specify a value for this column using an INSERT statement and the DB2 CLP, you would receive an error in Access 2007 too:

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You can do many interesting things with linked tables and DB2 as your back-end data server. For example, although it’s beyond the scope of this article to show you how to set the following examples up, I created a view in DB2 that actually covers an Access 2003 table (that version number wasn’t a mistake). You can see in the following figure that I exposed this as a linked table in Access 2007. When I select this object, Access 2007 goes to DB2 and takes the data from what it thinks is a DB2 view but is really a covering OLE DB function, and then fetches the data from Access 2003. Pretty neat, huh?

While, at first glance, this may seem like an extreme example, and I’m not suggesting you needlessly hop through layers of an IT infrastructure to get data, but imagine seeing your DB2 data server as an integration platform as opposed to just some place to store data. In this example, you can imagine the benefits: your business users would continue to simply work with their business artifacts, IT would be satisfied with their increased controls over the data, and, as more and more disparate systems are brought together, their ability to centrally manage these systems for control, governance, and more.

In the following figure, you can see that I’ve added some more linked tables to our Access 2007 integration front end from Access 2003 and Excel 2003 – all managed from DB2 and exposed through Access 2007:

As I’ve previously stated, it makes no difference which DB2 data server you are connecting to. In the following figure, I added a table that resides on DB2 for z/OS, but note that the data I’m trying to add violates a NOT NULL condition on a column in this table:

Of course, you can read from DB2 for z/OS data servers and perform all the actions I’ve detailed so far in this article:

Here’s an example of a linked table that’s connected to a multidimensional clustering (MDC) table that resides in DB2 for AIX and contains 10,000 records dimensionally organized around two dimensions: DIVISION and DEPARTMENT:

Access 2007 provides a number of native data grid features to work with your data sets. For example, Access 2007 has built-in order operators:

It even supports composite filtering whereby data values are first ordered by the qualifying column followed by a subsidiary-ordering column:

You can see in the previous figure that Access 2007 considers a NULL value to be larger than a defined value so it subsequently orders those rows without values for the YEARS column before others, and then applies an order to the SALARY column.

If a sort operation has been placed on a column, Access 2007 will alert you to this using a sorting icon () beside the columns to which a sort condition has been applied. You can work with the sorting technique applied to any column by clicking this icon and selecting the appropriate action:

You can choose to hide columns too. Simply select the column header (), right-click the column, and select the Hide Columns option:

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Hidden columns aren’t removed from your table but rather simply hidden. To get them back, just right-click anywhere in the data grid and select Unhide Columns:

Another feature I like when working with large data sets is the ability to quickly search the data set for specific values using the search bar located at the bottom of an Access 2007 data grid. In the following figure, you can see that I entered an employee’s name in the search field, and Access 2007 quickly located the first occurrence of that entry in the data grid:

You can use the row navigator to move focus from row to row using the controls located at the bottom of the data grid (), or just manually enter a row number in the Record field () and Access 2007 will jump to that record in your data set.

Copy and paste operations make it easy to move data around:

I’ll show you in a subsequent article in this series how useful this feature can be when administering a DB2 data server.

Access 2007 has a nifty feature called quick filters, whereby you can select a tuple from the data grid, right-click, and select a filtering option. For example, in the following figure you can see that I applied a quick filter such that only those employees who belong to department 20 are shown in the data set:

If a data set is filtered, Access 2007 uses a filtering icon () in the column to alert you to the fact that a filter has been placed on the column’s data distribution. You can alter the filter, turn it off, change its semantics, and more by clicking the filter and selecting the appropriate option:

Wrapping it Up...

In this article, I showed you how to work with data sets in Access 2007 that contain DB2 data. As you saw, you get all the productivity that you are used to with Access 2007 and all the data management benefits from DB2 that your IT department wants. I also demonstrated in this article some of the various data manipulation language (DML) operations you can perform on your DB2 data from Access 2007, how authorization controls (among other things) that you apply to your tables in DB2 are dynamically extended to the linked tables created in Access 2007, and more.

In the next part of this series, I’m going to show you some of the things you can do now that you have your DB2 data in Access 2007, such as create DB2-based reports, forms, and more.

» See All Articles by Columnist Paul C. Zikopoulos


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Copyright International Business Machines Corporation, 2008.


The opinions, solutions, and advice in this article are from the author’s experiences and are not intended to represent official communication from IBM or an endorsement of any products listed within. Neither the author nor IBM is liable for any of the contents in this article. The accuracy of the information in this article is based on the author’s knowledge at the time of writing.

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