An Access database is like a carefully built fort. It takes strictly organized and error-tested information and locks it up tight. Very few programs guard their data as protectively as database software does. Word processors and spreadsheet programs accept just about any content and let you build your document structure on the fly. Databases aren’t nearly as freewheeling.
Most of the time, databases live in an independent world. But every once in a while, you need to bridge the gap in one of two ways:
You want to take the information from another program and import it—basically, stuff it into your database.
You want to take some of the information in an Access database and export it, so you can work with it in another program.
Access has several different options for transferring information. You can use the lowly Clipboard, sophisticated import and export features, or the ever-popular XML standard. In this chapter, you’ll learn about all your options, including one new and pretty nifty trick: how to let people email you their updates to a database. This isn’t your father’s Access.
If you haven’t thought much about importing and exporting, it’s probably because you don’t need to use these features—yet. Many databases are completely happy living a quiet, solitary life. However, importing and exporting might come in handy for a few reasons. Sooner or later, one of these reasons will apply to you.