Spent the day doing Access 2000 work…

As part of the United Way’s Day of Caring, I went into Seattle today and did some work for a non-profit counseling center… specifically creating an Access system for them…. a few tables, 3 forms, and a bunch of analysis queries and reports all around stats…

Great stuff…. helping out a non-profit, but it was my first time building anything in Access in ages…. I used to do it all the time as part of past jobs, etc…. but even doing VBA is enough of change for me that I felt really rusty. Overall though, I got the work done and that is the key to a database tool like Access. Personally, while I was longing for SQL Server and VB.NET, I saw a lot of features in Access (even Access 2000) that you just can’t find in VB.NET (or C#)…

What do you think? Are there development features of Access that would be good to have in your ‘professional’ development tools? Use the comments/feedback link to let me know your thoughts!

Author: Duncan Mackenzie

I'm the Developer Lead for the Channel 9 team, formerly worked on MSDN as a developer, content strategist and author.

17 thoughts on “Spent the day doing Access 2000 work…”

  1. Funny, yesterday I did a little work on an Access 2002 project I haven’t seen in over a year. “Rusty” is right, I don’t do much VB.NET at all, I’m 90% C# so VBA is a major change.

    I love the ease with which you can create a project and then add all the functionality in VBA and take a fraction of the time it would have taken writing it “from scratch”. Those Access apps definitely great when you need something small and fast. I’m not sure how much of those features would be good enough for “real world” VB.NET/C# work (i.e. places where you don’t use wsiwyg features like dragging a table onto a form).

    I do wish the Access reporting features were available by default in VS.NET, I straight up refuse to use Crystal unless the client demands it.

  2. Reporting is an area where i have found the built-in support in VS inferior to Access (a ten-year-old or so end user MS Office application!). I find this remarkable, as I think most developers working with VS professionally need a good reporting tool.

    So, in short, I agree with the previous post.

  3. I’ll echo the overall coolness of reporting in Access. It is so well integrated that it almost makes it too easy. There are some products that get you nearly to that point in VS.Net, but none have quite made it.

  4. Reporting…Reporting…Reporting…
    We just dumped Crystal.NET because it should have been called Crystal.Suck
    We’r using the SQL reporting services….but I miss Access…it’s been 5 years now….

  5. I agree with Byrd. There should be some sort of add-in that allows you to create databases in vb with almost the same ease as Access. I use Access exclusively because I do not have the time to create databases from scratch in vb and have not used vb6 enough to be comfortable with it. Most enterprise solutions involve some form of database programming. It would be very cool if this was made as easy as Access. I know I would use VB6 all the time if this was the case

  6. I too am in the midst of building a “quick & Dirty” system for a local community fund-raising event. For soemthing like that, especially where reports are key, Access is the best choice. At least I get to use Access 2003 πŸ™‚

  7. Access is the best example when it comes to data centric RAD. In no other environment you can setup a prototype of a data application as fast with the possibility to enhance it afterwards.
    Building forms, reports and queries with the wizards are great.
    So as often as I have to deal with data, Access is the first joice.

    But: I miss the excellent Intellisense from VS.NET, the help system is a pain in the neck and the object model is weired.

  8. Reporting…. I hope someone working on VB reads this…. we all seem to want better reporting. Take the reporting engine from access and drop it into vb please (yea, its harder than that, but you guys pulled off creating microsoft.net from scratch so come on πŸ˜‰ )

    Crystal.Net was a good idea. Put in a huge reporting engine so you can reference it in a .net project. What they screwed up was deployment (asp.net is the worst for this). Its easy to get something working on a test box… as soon as it isn’t local anymore there are file reference problems, version conflicts, blah blah blah. Passing a dataset to a report… why should this be so hard?

    In short I wish you could take crystal and put it in an activex control instead of this goofy merge module spagetti file reference clown act that it uses now. Speaking of activex… why god why did they take it away… one .ocx file and your dreams come true. Why should my reporting engine be literally 30 times the size (for winforms) of the application using it? Bloat.

  9. Along with everyone else, reporting is so much easier in Access.

    But besides that, I miss connected data/datasets. The norm now with ADO.Net is the disconnected mode. I know that I can achieve the same effect myself by writing code, but there are times when I need an app that only services a few users (so scalability is irrelevant) and I don’t want to spend the time writing the extra code.

  10. i spent the day creating a dbase inaccess onlythat when i called it from vb 6.0 it give me an error of ” un unrecognizable db format ” any help man?
    \\ email is

    gillkenya @yahoo.com

  11. Reporting is great in Access but one of the little things I miss is a multi column ComboBox. I’ve always had to purchase a 3rd party tool to get this in VB. Access just hands it to you. I was suprised when I started using VB that you could only get one column in the standard ComboBox. I had hoped that a multi column CB would have been added to .net. Oh well! 😐

  12. I’ve been wasting three weeks trying to make a VB6 project with Report Designer do what could have been done in two days with Access. The Visual Report Designer just craps out on anything beyond a simple parent child data set (and getting grouping with that is hugely awkward).

    What is the $#%$^^ problem with Microsoft? Why can’t we have a decent reporting tool in VB? From the posts above it sounds like the previous rumours I heard of Crystal.NOT.YET are true.

  13. To sum it all… business is business, that’s MS. I’m more concentrated on ms access because most of my work are datacentric in nature.Ease of use and Highly customized reports is what the client’s want’s/needs. No REPORT – No PAY!. I don’t know, maybe bill gates has an idol (somebody) there in seagate co.(crystal report)-Patronize and maximize your on product pls!. (mr gates). Hoping that there will be an immediate improvement esp. on dynamic crosstab report generation and an optimized compiler for ms access like RBASE/FOX that could pack finish application into a single setup/exe.That’s all and ms access will become the super very best desktop dbase and client/server front end dev’t tool.
    If MS will not move somebody (like what happened in autocad/Autolisp-A 3rd party come up with visualLisp/OBJECT DCL/GWSharpLISP is what the public’s waiting for.) a 3rd party will definitely address the demand!

  14. It is so nice to hear those words, let me explain. I started developing as a young teen on a VIC20 (BASIC). In high school we used Commodore PETS (BASIC) and GW-Basic on PCs. When I went to college in 1991, last DOS only course before they introduced Windows, I took Cobol, C, Business Basic, etc… Because my first child was on the way, I had to get a good job as soon as I could, so raither than focus on C, I used what I knew already and focused on Basic language positions.

    I quickly landed an Access position. Then another two years later for 10K more and then another two years later for 15K more. And then another two years later for 30K more. Here is the problem. During that time I picked up a few other skills, but I always got pulled into another Access position. Now the IT market is dead and the only experience I really have is Access. I tried a few years ago to pick up Java and then .NET, but when you are working, it is very difficult to find the time to learn something new. Add to that is fact that I am now 35 and new languages do not come to me as easy as when I was 20.

    I still think for smaller requirements, Access can do a fine job so long as the developer knows what they are doing. I think alot of Access’ bad rap is the fault of unexperienced developers creating projects that fail. I have built Access databases that can search 100,000 records across a LAN in a second or less.

    Furthermore I also can not understand why Microsoft does not give Access the same strong DB engine SQL Server has, so more developers can benefit from the superior Access dev environment.

  15. Err… Access can use SQL server as its back end, so you have the full power of SQL server stored prodecure available (IF you buy SQL Server that is). The problem with Access is it’s not deployable to the web and that is what everyone wants today. Desktop applications are yesterdays news. Implementation of an Access app is another chore with having to install the front end on every user’s computer. Still I agree with the previous posters, its un unbeatable RAD tool and the forms and reporting capabilities are superb. But again, the reports are not deployable on the web.

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