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Microsoft Access scepticism

I have lost count of how many otherwise knowledgeable IT people I have heard criticise Microsoft Access. To them it is a toy, a quick fix, a prototyping tool at best. They will describe Access using words like corruption and poor performance as if these were built in features. But if you talk to any seasoned Access developer, they will proudly tell you of the complex applications they have written and deployed. They will tell you about the system they built with 100+ users x years ago that’s still going strong…and not one support call. They will tell you how quickly they migrated the users from this platform to that and how they created automation that blew the client away in the early beta meetings. So why does Access get such a kicking from some IT corners? Simple. Because anyone can build an Access database. That one fact is both its great success and its bugbear – it is “The People’s Platform” for development. The trouble is, some people were simply not cut out for application development! There are a heck of lot of really badly designed Access databases out there. So why is that such a big deal to some people? Do you ever hear anyone complain about the lack of purity and elegance in a word document or spreadsheet? If you told a marketing director that the Access database he has been using for the last five years wasn’t properly normalised, would he care? Nope, he wanted to get a job done without fuss, so he quickly threw an Access database together. Now at some point in the future we will get a call from that marketing director asking us to sprinkle some fairy dust on his pride and joy. And he, like so many of our have-a-go clients, will be amazed at what Access can do when a skilled analyst/developer gets to work with it. Digging a little deeper and this is my own, ‘humble’ opinion, as to why Access is occasionally sneered and sniffed at. A lot of the people that mock Access are from very controlled working environments. They live in a world where the very thought of a lowly user taking the initiative and learning how to write queries or macros without first calling a strategy meeting, is as radical as some of Darwin’s ideas. Microsoft Access is peerless as a development tool, in the right hands it can be used to build very sophisticated systems in fraction of the time it would take using other technologies. That is why Comcraft specialise in Microsoft Access.


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