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.