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Last updated: 20 Aug 2004 by XpertSS.com
No, there is no way of creating fully stand-alone database applications using Approach. Any user of your application will need an appropriate version of Approach installed in order to use it.
MS Access and some other database systems have either a "compiler" to create a runnable program from your design or they have a "run time" module that replaces the need for users to install the full product it was developed with. Some charge extra for this feature and some do not. But, there are currently no run time modules or compilers for Approach and none are under development. Lotus/IBM does not see any demand for this type of capability at all from their large corporate customers.
According to Lotus, Approach was designed to be a 'desktop database' or 'front end' to data the user wants to manipulate. The idea is you can take an existing database (dBase, Access, Excel, Foxpro, DB2, Oracle, Paradox, SQL, 123 ...) and create your own little application, leaving the original database intact for others. Or you can develop your own simple database from scratch.
You can also develop a more complex application with macros and buttons that give your application the appearance of a full-blown application, and you can distribute it to other users, but everyone who uses it needs their own copy of Approach. Using the "Customizing and Automating Approach" chapter 9 in the user's manual you can secure the system such that your users can't harm the database that you build for them. Pay particular attention to the Preferences, SmartIcons, and Custom Menus sections. You can design your database using custom pull-down menus and various buttons on forms so that all the native controls in Approach can be turned off or hidden from the user. And you can further protect both the data and your application's design by using Team Computing features covered in chapter 10. Also review the procedures for defining basic field settings in the various views you give the user to help the user enter data correctly and protect fields they should not change. FYI, this manual is available in Adobe .PDF format from the Free Downloads area on XpertSS.com. Lotus is often amazed by the complex business applications that are being deployed with Approach!
If the cost of multiple user licenses for Approach users is a problem, purchasing site licenses and using IBM' volume purchasing scheme will greatly reduce the costs for businesses. And there are several discount software web sites that often discount older versions of the SmartSuite, making it very affordable.
Approach 96 and newer versions also include 'LotusScript' which gives you much the same capabilities of Access Basic. You need some programming skills to write your own scripts, but you can often copy scripts and modify them for your own use. This site and http://www.XpertSS.com contain many examples for your education and use.