Cloud computing and Microsoft Access 365
The Microsoft Access software has progressed over the ages from Access 1.1 in 1992 until Access 2016. There has been a continual stream of enhancements. All being a steady improvement on the previous version.
Access 365 marks a major shift in the software. Access 365, besides the name "Access", has little in common with previous versions of Access. The intention is to allow quick production of small Cloud based, Browser accessed, line-of-business routines.
One big change: The Office 365 version is paid by monthly subscription.
What is Access 365 all about?
Office 365 is Microsoft's first expedition into Cloud computing. Cloud computing has the potential to allow business processes to run more efficiently. Cloud solutions can minimise labour intensive tasks.
One big feature is that Access Services will now store data to Microsoft SQL Server or an SQL Azure database. The old .ACCDB format has been abandoned.
Office 365 Cloud services cost from $10 per user per month. The cost of the Developer subscription varies from Free with MSDN to $99 USA per year.
The use of SQL Server for the BackEnd database overcomes the 2 Gigabyte size limitation of the previous Access databases. SQL Server also provides backup and recovery – features essential for office applications.
Converting Access 2016 to the Cloud
There is no an easy way to convert an ACCDB Database system to the Cloud. The two systems are completely incompatible.
The Access 365 project will have to be started from scratch.
Apps for Office - A service on the Web
There is a new feature of Access 365 – Apps for Office. This technology enables Office to be used as a service on the Cloud or Web. The Web page can be hosted in an Office application – that is Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint or Project.
An App is usually published to the Office Store for use.
SharePoint Apps hosted on the Web
Access 365 provides a simple way for SharePoint to host the Front-End of an App and have the data management capabilities of SQL Server on the Web. This simplifies Web development.
Note that Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code is not compatible with SharePoint Access applications.
The Access 365 Macro Language
Templates can be used to create sophisticated looking Apps – and without the need for code. However business rules and data manipulation can be implemented with a new macro language. The macros do not have the versatility of Visual Basic, but are adequate for simple logic.
Microsoft's Strategic Direction
Microsoft Access was never meant for corporate company databases. Many companies evolved the Access database software into their core administration systems. But with the limitations of network traffic, peak loads, reliability, rollback recovery, security, etc, etc – these systems eventually hit a brick wall.
The direction that Access 365 is now reverting to the original intention of Microsoft Access. That is, providing a rapid development environment for small Line of Business (LOB) applications.
Microsoft Access Forms are at the end of the road, as is the legacy VBA language. There will be no further enhancements for either.
For mission critical Administration Systems, the best development platform by far is a Visual Basic.Net Front-End with a Microsoft Access Database as the Server.