On Wiring Up an ADO Data Control

ActiveX Data Control is Microsoft’s most versatile pre-.NET Framework control that superseded the earlier DAO and RDO controls. Other third party data controls like the Oracle control were also used, but their support within the Visual Basic program was not as good. This tutorial is about connecting the ADODC control to a data source.

This ActiveX control provides three options for connecting to a data source and this article discusses all of them. The emphasis of this tutorial is not so much on using this control when it is connected, but rather on the configuration of the control to make a connection.

Three ways to connect an ADO control to a data source

The Property pages of an ADO control shows that there are three options for connecting to a database. These are:

  • Using a DataLink file
  • Using an ODBC Source name
  • Using a Connection String

The Datalink file and the ODBC Source name can be created outside the VB environment using other tools. The connection string and the ODBC Source name options can be configured from inside the VB Program. Of course, all of these options depend on the data source that is going to be used. The providers of data, the middle men in this connection effort, are different for different data sources as will be seen shortly.

In the case of the DataLink option, the connection will be made to an MS Access Jet Database; the ODBC Source name will use an Oracle 10G XE database on the local machine, and the connection string option will make a connection to a SQL 2005 Server on the network. A Visual Basic Standard EXE project with three forms will be used to elucidate the details. Since the proverbial proof of the pudding is in its eating, some minimal use of the control after it gets connected to the data will also be demonstrated.

{mospagebreak title=Preparatory Steps}

Creating a DataLink file

Create an empty text document and rename it AccLink.udl (you may use any other name but keep the .udl extension). The operating system may warn you that the file may be unusable if renamed. Ignore this warning.

Double click this file on the desktop where it was created. It opens the Data Link Properties window with the default tab Connection exposed as shown in the next picture. The three items that need information are clearly marked. When this window is open the default provider is the Microsoft OLEDB Provider for ODBC drivers.

Since we are creating a connection to a Jet data source we need to choose the proper Provider. Click on the Provider tab. This shows all the installed drivers on the machine.

Click on the Microsoft Jet 4.0 OLE DB Provider and click on the button which will open the window shown in the next picture. You may note that the Connection tab items are different from the default, since the connection depends on the Provider. You may use the ellipsis button (…) to browse to the location of the MDB file, in this case Northwind.mdb. You may also test the connection by hitting the Test Connection button.

Click on the OK button for the Microsoft Data Link window, and the DataLink Properties window. This completes your task of creating a DataLink File. Since AccLink.udl is a text file, it may be opened with a text editor and this is what the file contains:

; Everything after this line is an OLE DB initstring
Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;Data Source=C:Documents and Settingscomputer userMy DocumentsNorthwind.mdb;Persist Security Info=False

Creating an ODBC Data Source Name

An ODBC Data source is easily created on Windows OS machines using the utility that comes with the operating system, with all the drivers installed on the machine. On a Windows XP machine this utility may be accessed by following the path Start–> All Programs–>Control Panel which opens the control panel. Once in the control panel, click on the Administrative Tools icon and from the window that pops up click on the Data Sources (ODBC) icon. This will bring up the ODBC Data Source Administrator window that manages and configures open database connectivity with data sources. Using this window one can create File, System and Machine Data Source Names (DSN), the name that can be used as a reference point for the data sources. If the file already exists it can be used as is, or it can be modified using the Configure… button which will open up windows where it can be modified.

{mospagebreak title=Creating a New ODBC DSN}

In this case we will be using the Oracle 10G XE database; therefore the appropriate driver will be used. Make sure that the Oracle server is running. Click on the  Add… button. This brings up the list of database drivers on this machine that allow you to connect to various databases. We will be using the Oracle XE driver that was registered when Oracle 10G XE was installed. Choose this driver by highlighting it as shown. Then click on the Finish button.

This brings up the Oracle ODBC Drive Configuration window. As usual you need to provide a name for this DSN. Here it is called DSNOraXe. For the TNS (Transparent Network Substrate) Service Name provide the name of the server, XE. The description, which is optional, may be used to refer to the machine on which the server is running. For UserID, you must use HR, assuming you have established a user of the HR database by that name. If you have not taken this step, you must do so before proceeding further. This is described in the Oracle 10G XE installation manual, or in the online help. You may also read the previous article on the DevShed.com site.

You need not configure other items in this window. Click on the OK button to proceed to the next step. This will bring up the login for the Oracle 10 XE server. Once the proper information is entered, the DSN gets into the list of DSNs in the System DSN list in the ODBC Data Source Administrator window.

Creating a Connection String for the Use Connection String Option

This will be created inside the Visual Basic Program and will be described there.

Testing Connectivity with a Visual Basic Project

Start a standard EXE Visual Basic project. From the Project –> Components menu you can access the Components window. The ADODC ActiveX control (msadodc.ocx) can be added to the tool box from the Components window by scrolling down and choosing the control as shown.

The project has three forms, each appropriately named as shown. On each of the forms an ADODC control is placed by double clicking the control’s icon in the toolbox.

Testing the DataLink File

Right click the ADODC control and choose ADODC properties from the drop-down; you can bring up its property pages as shown. The picture shows both the form and the Property pages for the control. With the radio button choose the Use Data link file; you may browse to the AccLink.udl file created earlier as shown.

In the Authentication tab accept the default. In the RecordSource tab choose the Orders table as shown and click OK.

For the textbox on the form set the DataSource property to adodc1 and the DataField property to ShipName. When you run this form after choosing it from the Project –>AdoConn Properties… drop-down, you will see the following displayed (record position changed for this picture).

{mospagebreak title=Testing the ODBC Data Source Name Option}

Similar to the DataLink option test, a form and a textbox will be used. The ADODC control settings are as shown. The DSN name created earlier will be browsed to choose it from the list of DSNs available. The authentication in this case will be the appropriate one for the Oracle Server.

For the record source, a table from the Oracle 10G XE database is chosen as shown.

When this form is run you will see the first name of the Employee as shown since the textbox was configured so that the DataField was set to look at First_Name.

Using and Testing the Connection String Option

Again place the ADODC control on the form and choose the option to use the Connection string as shown. Click on the browse button which opens up the datalink window as shown. This is the same as the first option, but the string is created inside the program. Since we will be connecting to a SQL 2005 Server we will use the SQL Native Client driver as shown.

In the Connection tab the other related information is entered as shown. The SQL 2005 server MYSORIAN is on a networked machine named HODENTEK. Appropriate login information must be added, which allows you to choose the database. When you click on the OK button in the window above, the connection string information will be added as shown. In the connection string, the password has been doctored to mask the clear text for this picture.

After entering the authentication information, the Suppliers table was chosen as the RecordSource. For the textbox, the CompanyName was used as the chosen DataField to be displayed.

When this form was run the following information was displayed.


Connecting the ADODC control to the data source is greatly facilitated by the support provided by this control. The connection can be to any type of database for which appropriate drivers are available. However while using a DataLink file created outside the Visual Basic program, the Microsoft Data Link file may present some problems. This is especially true for the Windows XP operating system. While the Data Link file shows a successful connection when it is tested by itself, it may produce a design time error in the VB program. This is probably because the connection string constructed from the utility may not be format-compatible (Unicode vs. text) to what the VB program is expecting.

One thought on “On Wiring Up an ADO Data Control

  1. This tutorial discusses all the three options in wiring up the ADO data Control to the different databases. With this as reference you can do a whole lot of things.

    I look forward to your comments and suggestions. Jay

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