Sunday, July 4, 2010

MS Access 2010 - Sharepoint Hosting

I have taken the giant step of upgradng to Microsoft Office 2010 and I love it. I did not upgrade to 2007 because I chose to wait for the second iteration of this major upgrade. For MS Access 2010, the major improvement and, in my opinion, move in the right direction, is the new Access Services that makes it possible to develop an application totally for the web and hosted on a MS Sharepoint server. Data is moving to the web, we know it and if we are smart, we will get ready to support it.

Here's how it works: In Access the developer must select "Web Database" option when starting the project. All forms, reports, Queries and events are developed with web compatibility. New macro functionality has been added to extend the capabilities. Access 2010 allows forms and reports to be published to web sites using what is called "access web services" that runs on Sharepoint software. These web based forms and reports run in any standard browser. Before publishing your project to the Sharepoint server, it is checked for compatibility and errors reported.

Many have voiced the concern that having to run in Sharepoint creates an expense and complication that will impede this usefulness. Honestly, I had this concern at first but here's what I decided: Any URL will have to be hosted somewhere and security, user-access, multi-user conflicts in tables, etc., will need to be handled somehow. Sharepoint does it effortlessly to the developer and there are many reasonably-priced hosting services out there. You can find 30-day free trials to host and demo sites to customers if needed as well. I have used for such a demo and been happy.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Go Where the Work Takes You

I have been awarded several MS Access database development projects of late that I would like to share:

I recently completed an application for a wonderful European style bakery in Atlanta that is growing daily. The chef needed a way to control the process of receiving and tracking daily customer's orders, generating the baker's daily production reports with breakdown of dough types, dough volume required, and invoicing of customers. I worked closely with the client and we have developed a great tool that will make the daily process more efficient, easier to manage and less time consuming. Really enjoyed this project.

I am working on modifications to an application used by a local micro brewery to manage their process. This is a challenging project as I am wading through some very different, and totally without comments, code. To further complicate matters, the original programmer and I seem to approach the process differently. An occasional challenge can be good and keep you on your toes.

The third project is for an association that promotes a food product. Though I am modifying and adding to an existing application, I and the original programmer seem to approach the process similarly. I can more quickly understand where he is going.

The moral of the story is: Go where the work takes you. Be flexible enough to see a need and accept the challenge.