Virtual Forms for Excel can only work with Windows Desktop versions of Microsoft Excel (the ones that have VBA). It works with 32-bit and also 64-bit versions of Office.
In addition to Excel (VBA), you can also use Virtual Forms with VB.NET, C#, and for example Python. But this is not in the scope of this article.
To get started with Virtual Forms first you need a database where we will store our data. Virtual Forms can work with MariaDB (MySQL), MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, and Excel Workbook as the data source.
Why MariaDB (MySQL)?
In this Step by Step guide, we will use the MariaDB (MySQL) database that is hosted on a remote server, but you can also use it in local networks.
MariaDB is a version of MySQL (MySQL clients can connect to MariaDB and vice versa). Most of the functionality are the same, and some benchmarks state that MariaDB is faster than MySQL.
One of the main reasons we are preferring MariaDB-MySQL over Oracle-MySQL is also the licensing type. Developers can freely redistribute MariaDB-MySQL drivers needed to connect from a client to a server, while with Oracle-MySQL this is not the case.
Most of the problems, while starting with Virtual Forms, were drivers and connection strings, both for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the drivers. Developers (users) were forced to search, download and install the drivers by themselves, and then create the connection strings based on these drivers.
Starting with version 3 of Virtual Forms we ship the MariaDB drivers (32-bit and 64-bit) included in the setup and also you don’t need to create the connections string manually anymore.
Virtual Forms for Excel – 14-days Trial
After you have downloaded and installed the Virtual Forms 14-days trial, the installer has installed 3 components.
- Virtual Forms control – this is a free control that renders the forms and can be redistributed and used on as many devices as you like.
- Virtual Forms Report Viewer control – this is also a free control that enables you to show and render reports created with Microsoft Report Builder for SSRS
- Virtual Forms Designer – trial 14 days – this is a tool that we use to build our virtual forms.
After installation, you should now have a folder on your desktop in that you can find some small simple example apps created with Virtual Forms for Excel to see how it works and to see the difference in server locations.
Let’s get started!!
1. Create an account on Virtual-Forms.com
Go to the Virtual Forms store where you can select the server location and the type of account that you want.
For example, if you and your users are located in the EU, then select the EU servers, if you and your users are located in the USA you should select the USA servers.
Regarding the account type, you can choose between Picollo, Normale, or Enorme.
In Picollo, for example, you can create a maximum of 3 databases, have only 300MB of disk space (including the space for databases).
If you want an unlimited number of MySQL databases, more space, and need the Shell Access (SSH) to establish a secure connection to your database server, you can choose between Normale or Enorme.
You will get a few emails from the system. That will contain information that we will need in the next steps.
One, called Welcome to Virtual Forms – Your Client Area Account Details will contain information about your Client Area where you can see all your subscriptions and get access to the Download section where you can download the latest versions with up to date of Unprotected installation for Virtual Forms.
The second email is called New cPanel Account Information where you can find the login and URL information for your cPanel account and also the Server Name that is the Domain name.