How do I setup a Dynamic Schedule for MS Access in MARS?

A dynamic schedule allows you to send multiple instances of the same report. For each instance, MARS will automatically enter the required parameter values, export the report and deliver it to the required destination.

Dynamic Schedules for MS Access

A dynamic schedule allows you to send multiple instances of the same report, For each instance, MARS will automatically enter the required parameter values, export the report and deliver it to the required destination. Dynamic Schedules can be used in a variety of scenarios.

Dynamic Schedule Scenario

  • This powerful mechanism can only really be described with an example:
The Springfield Donut Company has 1500 stores worldwide. Ray is the MS Access guru at Head Office. He has to send each store manager a report of their weekly statistics every Monday. He does not want to write 1500 static report schedules.
To make matters worse, stores which are not doing well are regularly closed off, and new stores are being brought on-line weekly.
And that’s not all. It has just been announced that SDC has just acquired a rival company and 800 new stores are coming on board tomorrow morning.
It’s the middle of summer, so 2 of Ray’s 3 staff are on vacation. He has a meeting with the Chairman in 3 hours, and, if he can demonstrate that everything will be in place and running by 5pm today, he will get a $25,000 bonus.
Ray is not looking forward to writing 800 new single report schedules.
“What I need”, he thinks to himself, “is a single dynamic schedule which will reel through the database, populate the StoreId parameter automatically, run the report for that store, email it to the store manager using the email address in the database, and repeat the above actions for every store in the database.
I need this to happen automatically every Monday at 0100 hours.”
  • To resolve the issue illustrated above:
  1. Start by writing a report with a single parameter called StoreID. Write the report so that when a StoreID is entered into this parameter, the resulting report is populated by that store's sales information only. We will call StoreID the Key Parameter.
  2. Make sure that a database table somewhere (ODBC compliant) has some of the other information we will need e.g. the email address to email each store's report to, or the folder you want to export it to, or the printer you would like the report to print out on. For example:
MS Access: Example of dynamic schedule in MARS.

The values can be stored in the same database or even the same table, but are typically stored in a different database e.g. HR database as these are maintained on a daily basis and are therefore more likely to be right. It also takes a lot of mundane administration work from you!

  • In simple terms here is what MARS will do with a dynamic schedule:
  1. It will look at a list of StoreIDs defined by you. e.g. Select StoreID from mytable where closeddown <> 'T' (Don't be scared, the wizard will walk you through setting up SQL queries)
  2. It will pick the first StoreID in the list and enter it into the report.
  3. The report will begenerated for that store.
  4. The generated report will now be delivered to the specified email address and MARS knows this because you will tell MARS where to get the email address e.g. select email from anothertable where StoreID = [StoreID]

How do I create Dynamic Schedule for MS Access?

  • Go to Dynamic
MS Access: MARS Home Menu.

MS Access: General Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.

General Wizard

  • Schedule Name: Name the schedule.
  • Create In: This section is for select the folder where you want to create the single report in.
  • Database Path: Browse and select the database where the report is located.
MS Access: General Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • DB Password: Enter the password to the selected database if necessary.
  • WorkGroup Security: If your Access database uses Workgroup Security, then check this option and enter the required credentials.
  • Security File Path: Browse and select the security file (.mdw) which is used by Access to control security for this database. If you don't know what this is, or where it is stored, your System or Database administrator will be able to point you to the right file.
  • Important If you are using Workgroup Security:
    • You must join the workgroup that defines the user accounts used to access the database.
    • Your user account must have Open/Run and Open Exclusive permissions for the database object.
    • Your user account must have Administrator permissions for all the tables, queries, macros, tables and any other objects in the database, or it must be the owner of all tables in the database.
    • Your user account must have Administrator permissions for all objects in the database.
  • Report or Query: Select Report or Query to tell MARS which you wish to schedule.
  • Connect: Click to connect to the database.
  • Report Name: Select the report or query you wish to schedule from the dropdown list (only available after successful connection to the database)
  • Open Arguments: If there are some special arguments you would like MARS to run when it opens the MS Access database you should enter them here.

Click Next to continue to the next wizard.

Schedule Wizard

MS Access: Schedule Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.

In this section, you will decide when the report will execute. There are a variety of options:

  • Daily: Run a report every day or at a frequency of days.
    • Sub options: Repeat every X Days.
Example: Run the schedule every 3 days.
MS Access: Schedule Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • Weekly: Run a report on a weekly time frame.
    • Sub options: Repeat every X weeks.
Example: Run the schedule every 2 Weeks.
  • On: Select the specific days of the week the schedule will run. If only once a week,select only the day of the week it will run.
Example: Run every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
MS Access: Schedule Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • Week Days: Run the schedule Monday through Friday.
MS Access: Schedule Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • Working Day: Run the schedule starting on a specific day of the month. Indicate which day of the month the schedule will run. E.G. run the schedule on the 4th working day of the month.
MS Access: Schedule Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • Monthly: Run the schedule on a monthly time frame.
    • Use the following options: Checking this box will enable you to select frequency options such as the “last Thursday of the month.” Also you can include or exclude specific months from the schedule.
MS Access: Schedule Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • Annual: Run the schedule every year at a specified time.
MS Access: Schedule Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • Custom Calendar: Select the custom Calendar you wish to use. You can create a new custom calendar from the menu as well. Please see Custom Calendars for more information.
MS Access: Schedule Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • Other: Other scheduling options.
    • Run Schedule every X Minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years.
MS Access: Schedule Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • None: No scheduling is required for this item.
MS Access: Schedule Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • Destination: Select how you would like your report to be delivered. This will also determine some of the options that will show up later in the process. For example, if you select email, you will be asked for email address later.
  • Start Date: Enter the desired starting date for the schedule. This section can be the current date (providing schedule time has not already passed) or a date in the future.
  • End Date: If the schedule is due to end after a certain date enter that here. If the schedule is to run indefinitely, then leave it blank.
  • Schedule time: On the Next Run date, the package will run at this time.
  • Exception Calendar: Choose a calendar that will instruct the schedule to NOT run on those specified days. Please see Custom Calendars for more information.
  • Next to run on: The package will next run on this date.
  • Repeat Every: Rerun the package every x minutes from the scheduled time until your specified time.
For example, you can set up a daily package to run every day at 8 am, and to run every hour until 5 pm.
  • Until: After this date, there will be no automated scheduling of this package.
  • Enable this Schedule: Uncheck this option to Disable the package. Disabled packages are not deleted, but they do not execute automatically. You can re-start the automatic scheduling at a later date by checking this option again. Or right-clicking this schedule from the main screen and selecting Enable.

Click Next to continue to the next wizard section.

Key Parameter Wizard

MS Access: Key Parameter Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.

On the Key Parameter tab, you will begin by selecting the report parameter that will hold the unique value being “looked up” by your database.

The key parameter is the parameter in your report which will help MARS identify the email address, printer or folder to export to. In the example, Ray's key parameter is "[?StoreID:]" as the email address for each store is stored against the StoreID.

  • Set the Report parameter: Select from the drop down list which parameter will be used to look up your destination. Values in this parameter will be used to look up both the appropriate destination and also generate a unique report for each value.
  • Populate key parameter with static data: This option would be chosen if you DO NOT want MARS to feed multiple parameters in to the report via database. Rather, one parameter value will be chosen, and it will run for a changing list of recipients.
  • The use of this option is better explained with an example.
Ray wants to run the report against the same StoreID. He cannot use a Static schedule as, unfortunately, the store's email address changes weekly. This would mean he would have to edit the static schedule and enter a new email address each time the email changed.
So he writes a Dynamic schedule and uses this option to enter a static StoreID e.g. [?StoreID:] = "1991". The report will now always run for StoreID number 1991 only, but the email address it will be sent to will be the value entered in the database against this store at the time the schedule is run.
If the database is maintained daily, then the report will always be sent to the latest email address.
  • Populate key parameter with data from a database: This is the most common option for users creating dynamic schedules. MARS will use a query to automatically feed key parameter values into your report based on a table.
  • The use of this option is better explained with an example.
Ray wants to run the report for a large number of stores. Normally, he would print a list of all the StoreID that needed a report. He would then run the report, enter one ID, export and email the report. He would move to the next store in the list and do the same again. For MARS to automate RAY's actions, MARS will need a list of StoreIDs which it will reel through - producing a unique report for each store and sending it to the corresponding email address. Using this option, Ray can build the list of stores the report should run for. In short, the list of parameter values which MARS should use to run the report.
MS Access: Get values from database interface in MARS.
  • You should now notice your report parameter being populated with an insert. This means MARS will reel through your table, pull the Key parameter values and feed them into your report. A unique file will be generated for each value.

MARS will only run the report for values found in your query, not all values found in your report. Therefore, only the data in you system must be maintained rather than MARS!

  • Insert Menu: You can insert constants, formulas and database field values instead of a static "typed in" value. Right-click in the parameters field to expose the Insert menu.
To enable a report parameter to run for a date constant (Current Date, Yesterday etc.), select MARS Constants from the insert window, then drag and drop your desired constant to the parameter field.
  • Advanced: Use the advanced tab to write your own query.

Click Next to continue to the next wizard section.

Linking Wizard

MS Access: Linking Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.

In this Section we will establish a link between the key parameter values we have selected earlier, and the location of the corresponding destination information.

  • Use static destination: This will export all your report to a single destination e.g. a folder.
  • DSN Name: Drop down and select a DSN.
We strongly recommend System DSNs so that the DSN is visible to MARS even when the user associated with the DSN is logged off.
All communication to databases (including Access databases) is done through ODBC, so you must setup a system DSN to the database before you can use this facility.
When setting up DSNs we recommend (if possible) that you use Windows Authentication (Trusted Connection). This ensures that your username and password are not required to be stored in MARS (more secure) and overcomes a large number of security restrictions which Windows places on DSNs. When using Windows Authentication, make sure that the MARS NT service user (or background application service user) has full rights to the database otherwise, though you will connect when you are logged in, automated scheduling will fail if the Service user has not got rights to the database.
When setting up a DSN to a SQL server, you must ensure that the "Default Database" setting is set to the database you are connecting to (Windows defaults this to "Master").
  • UserID: Enter the User ID MARS should use to log on to the database
  • Password: Enter the password associated with the above user.
  • Connect: Connect to the Database
Here is where Ray connects to the database and tells MARS where it will find the StoreID value, and what the corresponding email address is.
  • Select the table name (e.g. ContactInfo) and the column in that table (e.g. StoreID) which matches the parameter value (StoreID) which you determined in the previous step.
  • Select the column in the table that holds the email address (or folder path or printer name) that corresponds to the above parameter value.

Click Next to continue to the next wizard section.

Destination Wizard

Under the Destinations tab, the destination that you chose previously under the Schedule section will now automatically pop-up. Secondly there is no ‘To’ address because this information is being retrieved from a database. The reason for this is that since the destination type was defined in the previous step.

MS Access: Destination Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • Use the Inserts Function to customize the email subject and body as desired. Simply drag and drop Dynamic Table Fields from your Inserts list.
  • Select the format for your report.
MS Access: Destinations Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.

Click Next to continue to the next wizard section.

Report Options Wizard

MS Access: Report Options Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • In this section you will authenticate to the database the report runs against, set snapshots, and other options.
  • Login required for linked tables (optional): If the database requires logon credentials, check this option and enter the required username and password. If credentials are not required, uncheck the option and continue as normal (default). All values are optional. You only need to enter a value if your database, security, networking or infrastructure require it. Logins for individual tables can be set as well.
  • Resume failed/errored with cached data: If the schedule fails, resume the schedule from where it left off. You can then select how long should the cached data should be kept.
  • Enable Snapshots and keep snapshot for X Days: Save a Picture of the report as it is produced. Choose the amount of time will be stored in the system before deletion.
  • Report Metadata
    • Description (optional): You may write a short description to help other users identify exactly what this schedule is and what it is expected to do.
    • Keyword (optional): Enter some keywords which can be used later by Smart Folders to identify this schedule.

Click Next to continue to the next wizard section.

Lock Prevention

MS Access: Lock Prevention Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • Use a Copy: An Access databases will become unstable if multiple users are connected at the same time as an automation tool is interacting with it. To prevent this we recommend that MARS works exclusively on a copy of the database when it needs to run a report or query. Check this option to enable MARS to use a copy of the source database.
    • When the option is selected a copy of the database will be taken and stored in the same folder as the source database. You can change the location of the copy to a location with more disk space. If your database is stored on a network, you will benefit from better performance if the copy is stored locally on the MARS PC.
    • When MARS has finished running your report it will delete the database copy. It will be able to do this once MS Access has released the file (the ldb disappears). This can take a while, sometimes up to a few hours, so be patient.
    • If you prefer not to use a copy of your database (e.g. because it is too big) then you should not check this option. However you must ensure that no other users or processes are logged into the database at the schedule time. In addition, we recommend that you backup up your database before the schedule time so that you can revert to your original in case of corruption.
  • Front-End/Back-End: This is a special type of database which has been split using the facility in MS Access and is Identified by MS Access as FE/BE. For more information about splitting your database please see your MS Access user manual. Select this option if you are using a split database.
When splitting your database MS Access stores the path to the BE in the FE. During the slitting process ensure you select a UNC path to the BE otherwise it will only be visible to MARS if MARS is installed on the PC where the splitting was done.
  • If your backend database is an ODBC database, select this option, the Database DSN, and your user credentials.
  • If your backend database is an Access file, select this option, then browse to the desired backend database file.

Click Next to continue to the next wizard section.

Exception Handling

MS Access: Exception Handling Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • Treat as “error” if not completed in X minutes: If a report takes longer than the specified amount of time to run, this option will treat the schedule as an error and follow the appropriate action. The “Auto-calculate” option instructs MARS automatically determine how long a schedule should take to run the report. If it takes longer than the calculated amount of time, then it is an error.
If manually determining the error timing, please double check the run time of the report in order to get the correct time estimate.
  • On error, retry executing schedule every: If set to 0, MARS will deem the schedule as "Failed" the first time it encounters an error. The schedule will not run again until its next scheduled time. Change the value to tell MARS how many times you want it to retry running the report before declaring it as "Failed."
  • Check if the Report is Blank: If a report is blank because it genuinely returned no data, recipients can misconstrue this as an error with the scheduler. This option allows you to identify genuine empty reports and instruct MARS on what to do with them.
  • Ignore the report and subsequent tasks: if the report is blank, do not send the report. The report will not be delivered to the destination. No custom tasks will be run.

Method

MS Access: Exception Handling Wizard in Dynamic Report Schedule in MARS.
  • Select the Method that will determine whether a report is blank.
  • Native: MARS will check to see if the report returns any data. If not, the report is considered blank.
MS Access: Exception Handling Wizard in Dynamic Report Schedule in MARS.
  • SQL Query: Select this option to use a user made query that will determine if the report is blank. If the query returns no results, the report is blank.
  • Click Build.
  • Get values from a database window will appear. For more information about Get values from database, click here.
MS Access: Get values from database interface in MARS.

Actions

MS Access: Exception Handling Wizard in Dynamic Report Schedule in MARS.
  • Select an action from the task list. This task will be executed in the event that a schedule is blank.
  • For more information about tasks, click here.
Tip: You can send a notification if a report is considered blank instead of sending the report. Simply select “check if a report is blank” then select “Ignore the report.” In the actions tab, select “Send Email” from the list. Compose your email and save.

Click Next to continue to the next wizard section.

Custom Tasks

MS Access: Custom Tasks Wizard in Dynamic Schedule in MARS.
  • In the section you have the option of setting up custom tasks. Custom tasks are business process automation tools that can be auto triggered before or after a report runs.
  • For more information on Custom Tasks, click here.
  • If you have no desire to add a Custom Task, you can click finish to complete the schedule.

Dynamic Schedule Context Menu

MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Context Menu in MARS.
  • Right-Click on a schedule to see the following actions:
    • Properties: Edit the schedule from here. Or you can just double click on the schedule.
    • Copy: Use this to copy the schedule. Right-click in the "white space" of the folder you wish to copy it to and select Paste button.
    • Rename: Rename the package.
    • Enabled: Schedules are enabled when there is a check icon beside this option. To stop a schedule from running, or to "pause" it for a while, select this option to remove the check icon. Disabled schedules will not run until they are enabled again.
    • Refresh: When a schedule is first created, MARS caches (saves) a copy of the report. All executions of the scheduled are performed using this copy. If you make changes to your master report, you must select this option in order to pull the changes into MARS.
    • Preview: Preview the report before execution.
    • Execute: This button will execute the schedule immediately. Note that the next run date and time is not moved on as a result of a manual execution. They only move on if the schedule is run automatically by one of the schedulers
    • Delete: Selecting this option will delete the schedule.
    • Report Design: Preview the report Design.
    • Test: Use this option to test the schedule and export it to selected "test" destinations.
    • Convert To Package: This button will move this report into a package. The package will have the name of the single schedule report.
    • Move into a package: use this option to move the report into an existing package.
    • Ad-Hoc Email to Recipients: Select this option to send an ad-hoc email to all recipients of this package. You can use this to alert recipients to a planned system outage, or any other useful information.
    • Create Shortcut: Use this option to create a shortcut you can save in any location on your PC. Execute the shortcut to execute the schedule in MARS.
    • Ad-Hoc View: This button allows you to preview the report.

Dynamic Schedule Properties

MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Context Menu in MARS.
  • To access your schedule properties, right click on a schedule and select properties.
  • Similar to the schedule wizard, you adjust settings to your schedule such as timing, error handling, or custom tasks.
  • General
MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Properties in MARS.
  • Schedule
MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Properties in MARS.
  • Report
MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Properties in MARS.
  • Report Options
MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Properties in MARS.
  • Destinations
MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Properties in MARS.
  • Exception Handling
MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Properties in MARS.
  • Lock Prevention
MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Properties in MARS.
  • History: Review the schedules history. Successes, failures, and other data is located here.
MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Properties in MARS.
  • Tasks
MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Properties in MARS.
  • Linking
MS Access: Dynamic Schedule Properties in MARS.