Neville
Silverman

Visual Basic Programmer, Sydney
Microsoft Access Database Programmer

Custom Built Software
System Optimisation
Office Automation
Phone Australia
(02) 9453-0456

Microsoft Access Forms at the Crossroads

Business automation using Visual Basic and AccessTwenty years ago, when a small company created a new administration system, the obvious choice was Microsoft Access. That is, a Microsoft Access Front-End database was installed on each user's PC and a Microsoft Access Back-End database was used to store data on a Server.

Nowadays, Microsoft Access as the Front-End is no longer a suitable choice. Much has happened in the intervening years. A Microsoft Access Database still has much in its favour. It is still an easy method for creating a simple system with the minimum of bother. The wizards for Reporting and Queries are still very powerful. Visual Basic for Applications, although 20 years old, is still effective and efficient.

A Microsoft Access Database, as a repository of a company's records, is convenient and cheap. It is still ideal for a multitude of applications – except those that have high volume, high capacity or are mission critical.

The problems with using Access as a Front-End

Microsoft Access was originally intended a single user database. This was extended to allow communication from the single user database to a Server based database. This worked, after a fashion, but was not ideal.

The technology (File Server, VBA, DAO, Jet Database Engine, ODBC, etc, etc) used by Microsoft Access harks back 20 years – which in technological terms, is equivalent to the Stone Age. This Network technology has been replaced and improved many times over.

Microsoft Access, as a Front-End Form container, is lumbering and inefficient. There are just too many problems:

  • The overhead and traffic on Server and Network resources is high
  • User numbers are limited by performance issues
  • Constant tuning is required
  • There is a high chance of data corruption at peak times
  • Constant upgrades of Microsoft Office Professional software are required
  • Microsoft Access licences are expensive
  • The legacy VBA code is difficult to maintain
  • Much of the Access logic is hidden and difficult to maintain
  • Security can be easily broken
  • The forms are inefficient and clunky
  • Start up is slow
  • Compression on exit is slow.

Visual Basic.Net is a much better and cost effective alternative

Visual Basic is now favoured as the most effective vehicle for the creation of the Front-End user interface.

Compared to using Microsoft Access Forms:

  • Administration systems can be produced quicker
  • Visual Basic Forms have none of the inefficiencies or problems
  • Visual Basic Forms are more robust and scalable
  • The cost of development is far less
  • The system Networking overhead is far less
  • Maintenance costs are minimal