A Generic Routine to Fill Unbound Lists

A common need in database processing is retrieving a list of the values of a particular column field for every record in a table. This function takes arguments for a database name, table name, field name, and optional SQL criteria string, and it returns a collection that contains the list of all row values for the specified column field:

 Public Function GetColumnData(ByVal DbName As String, _	ByVal TableName As String, ByVal DataFieldName As _	String, Optional WhereCriteria As String) As Collection	Dim WS As Workspace	Dim DB As Database	Dim RS As Recordset	Dim SQLQuery As String	Dim Results As Collection	Dim FieldValue As String	Dim Count As Integer	Set WS = CreateWorkspace("", "admin", "", dbUseJet)	Set DB = WS.OpenDatabase(DbName)	SQLQuery = "SELECT " & TableName & _		"." & DataFieldName & " FROM " & TableName	If WhereCriteria <> "" Then _		SQLQuery = SQLQuery & " WHERE " & WhereCriteria	Set Results = New Collection	Set RS = DB.OpenRecordset(SQLQuery, dbOpenForwardOnly)	If Not RS Is Nothing Then		Count = 0		'this count will be a unique key		'in the collection		Do While Not RS.EOF			FieldValue = RS.Fields(DataFieldName)			Results.Add FieldValue, CStr(Count)			Count = Count + 1			RS.MoveNext		Loop		RS.Close		Set RS = NothingEnd If	DB.Close	Set DB = Nothing	WS.Close	Set WS = Nothing	Set GetColumnData = Results	Set Results = NothingEnd Function

This procedure is great for filling unbound lists and combo boxes or for driving other database processing based on the returned list. Here’s a simple example:

 ' get a list of Social Security numbers ' for all employees over age 65Dim lst As Collection	Dim i As Integer	Set lst = GetColumnData("employee.mdb", _		"tblEmployees", "SSNum", "Age>65")	If Not lst Is Nothing Then		For i = 1 To lst.Count			'do something with lst(i)		Next i		Set lst = Nothing	End If

In this code, efficiency is traded for ease of use. The procedure opens a connection to the database each time it’s called, which is an expensive operation, especially if used inside a loop. As an alternative, you could pass an optional database object. Another efficiency enhancement would be to declare the GetColumnData function as Recordset. After the recordset is open, simply Set GetColumnData = RS. By doing this, you can dispense with the collection altogether. It would also save an iteration through the recordset/collection within the GetColumnData function to assign it to the collection.

Also, note that duplicate values are allowed in the returned collection. I left out error checking intentionally to keep the code as short as possible.

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