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Creating Your Own Research Service for the Microsoft Office 2003 Research Library : Page 2

Need to give users the ability to do quick searches of corporate data without adding yet another application to each user's desktop? The Research Library may be your answer. If your users have Office 2003, the user part is already there. All you have to do is add the research service.


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Figure 4: The sample uses ADO.NET to open and query an Access 2003 table.
Querying a Corporate Database: A Contacts Sample
The steps you're about to walk through are needed to create a simple research service that allows the end user to search for contacts in a database. The source data is based on Microsoft's Northwind Traders database from Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft Office Access 2003. The Employees and Customers tables were combined to make the Contacts table, shown in Figure 4. To use the Northwind Contacts sample, enter a first or last name in the Search For text box. Figure 5 shows the result of a search for a particular name. In addition to the list of contacts, the search result includes a Search by country hyperlink at the bottom of the result list. When you select the hyperlink, the research service returns a list of all the countries in the Contacts table (Figure 6). Select a country and the research service returns a list of contacts in that country.


Figure 5: You can search by first or last name.
 
Figure 6. Designing Your Mobile Application: You can choose a country from a list generated by the research service.
A Quick Guide to Web Services
A research service is simply a Web service that complies with certain specifications. A Web service is, as the name implies, an application that runs on a Web server. The sample Web service used in this article was developed using VB.NET, but it could easily have been created with a different language. Web services communicate using open standards like Extensible Markup Language (XML), so they are not tied to a particular language or operating system. A Web service receives information from a client as an XML packet, processes that information, and returns a response, also in XML format, to the client. Typically, the schemas for the call and response are determined by the developer of the Web service. To call a Web service, the developer of the client application must know what XML to send to the Web service and how to read and process the XML returned to the client.

If the Web service is built to be a part of the Research Library, the client is the Research task pane. All the code to send a request to the research service and process the returned XML packet has already been written. When you develop a research service, you don't get to choose the schemas you use; the schemas have already been determined by Microsoft. This article does not delve deeply into every element defined in each schema; rather it discusses those elements that are required and points out features that are available. The schemas used by the Research Library are all included in the Research SDK. The Research SDK will be available for download from the MSDN.Microsoft.com/Office Web site after Office 2003 ships.



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