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Access is a Hybrid Cloud Superstar

The following article was written by George Young, owner of Dawson Butte Software, Access developer, and .NET applications consultant.

Access in a Cloud-First Mobile-First World

This month, we launch a regular series of posts on how Microsoft Access can survive, indeed thrive, in the brave new cloud and mobile world. We’ll start with this introductory post, giving some background and context. Subsequent posts will be looking at specific examples with steps to implement them.

Background

The computing world has changed in the past decade. Since the heady days of Access 2007, Windows ruled the client computing world. But:

  • There are now more Android computing devices than Windows devices.
  • Enterprises themselves are demanding applications which can run in this heterogeneous computing world — remote, mobile, on iOS or Android.
  • Microsoft itself has pivoted to a mobile and cloud strategy, under Satya Nadella:
  • Traditional Windows applications have now been released on Android, iOS, and the Mac.
  • Azure has gone from nothing to being a, if not the, primary growth driver for the company.
  • Windows 10 was free for the first year or so, and Windows itself has gone from being the focal point of the company to being split into two separate divisions.
  • Microsoft’s premier development tool, Visual Studio, now has a Mac version, and supports the development of Android and iOS applications.
  • Microsoft has also released Visual Studio Code, which runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

The new strategy appears to have been very successful, as MSFT stock is up over 200% since Nadella became CEO (among other metrics, including employee morale). Microsoft, as of this writing, has overtaken Apple to become the most valuable company in the world (something most would have thought unthinkable a few years ago).

Meanwhile, unlike some other members of the Office family, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Access runs only on Windows. Only people running full Windows, a diminishing proportion of the general computing market, can run our applications.

You’ll recall that Access itself was removed from the Business (as opposed to Enterprise) editions of Office 365, but later returned because of strong customer demand. The latest attempt to “get Access on the web”, Access Web Apps, which launched with fanfare in Office 2013, was terminated less than five years later. Work on the Access client application has been happening recently, most notably with the reworking and expanding of data connections, and with modern charts.

So, Whither Access?

At first glance, things don’t look promising for our favorite database application and development environment. Looking deeper, though, there is great opportunity for Access in this cloud/mobile world. Let’s start at looking at what Access still does uniquely well:

  • Access is a great RAD database designer. The ease of setting up tables, indexes, relations, and queries are unparalleled. What made Access so popular at the start remains a core strength.
  • Access generates great rich-client data-driven applications. With the full richness of Win32 at its disposal, Access has powerful and performant application features like a rich set of form controls, validation, form and datasheet views, and so forth.
  • Access is a great RAD tool for reports and charts. The ease of development and power of Access reports remain a key strength of Access. Modern charts, introduced in Office 365 / 2019 adds to this.
  • Access integrates very well with Windows and Windows applications, notably other Office applications. Win32 APIs are available to Access, and integration with the full Office applications, such as sending email via Outlook, exporting to Excel, or generating a Word document, is excellent.

These are the key questions. Is it possible to hold on to these things that Access developers have loved for 25 years, and be relevant in the new cloud/mobile world? Is there any way that we can keep Access and yet be relevant on iPads or Macs, or even phones? Or does Access go the way of the dodo bird?

Well, it’s our belief that Access can do fantastically well in the cloud/mobile world. With a little effort, we can have our cake and eat it too.

One of Microsoft’s key points of strategy in Azure’s success is something called the Hybrid Cloud. Essentially, this means the best of Windows and the best of the cloud, working together. It’s not a stretch to say that Access is one of the best things in Windows. In the coming months, we’ll take a close look at how Access can make use of the best of the cloud.

Resource: Microsoft Access Blog – Access Is Hybrid Cloud Superstar, by George Young.

Access Use Expands In Cloud Centric Arena

Microsoft Access is now experiencing a major resurgence. This is due to the new Azure-SQL Server connection that puts Access in a very positive situation. Azure and SQL Server rely on other applications for the User Interface and data manipulation. This means that the database owner must utilize a Visual Studio User Interface, programmed using C#, VBA, or some other language – or they can use a Microsoft Access database as a “front-end” that connects directly to the Azure SQL. This hybrid relationship allows very very large data stores a rapid development cycle for the User Interface which makes Access a valuable member of the application development team.

Are you thinking, “Where can I find a Microsoft Access programmer who knows how to work with SQL Server?” When you need a Microsoft Access expert programmer, just call us at (323) 285-0939 for a complimentary consultation. We have 25+ years experience working with MS Access. In fact, we literally “wrote the book” on Access programming; in fact we’ve written 15 book, several articles and hundreds of training videos for Access students. When you’re ready to work with the real Access professionals, contact us.

Read more about Microsoft Access Programmer Services.

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