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What I’d love to see in the next version of Access

It’s that time of the year again folks, where the Access team is debating what to include, fix or remove from the next version of Microsoft Access, and if past history is any notion of what to expect, don’t expect anything to change on the client side: no new IDE tools, no new coding tricks, nada. *SIGH*

It’s all web and nothing else going forward

Let’s face it, the web mantra is dominating Access future and it isn’t going to change. To that end, here are my top requests for the next version of Access:

  • Allow the web version to invoke TSQL scripts: I understand you, (meaning Microsoft), want us to use macros, I get it. But macros will only take us so far as developers, WE NEED MORE. Let us tap into the power of SQL Server and add a simple Exec command to the macro language that will allow us to invoke any script on the SQL Server side. We would of course want the ability to write any arguments and reference elements on the form as part of using the Exec command.
  • Let us tap into the awesome power of Reporting Services: (Are you seeing a trend here of including more SQL Server integration?) Allow us as developers to invoke the reports by again using custom arguments or elements from the form. For example, if the form is displaying an order and we want to display the order report, we would like to reference the OrderID field on the form when the report is launched. For example: RunSSR(“rptOrder”, Me.OrderID). Don’t get me wrong, Access has great reporting capabilities but it’s not SQL Server Reporting Services. If the data is now being stored on SQL Server than why NOT use it?
  • Allow us to use integrate with SharePoint lists, documents, sites etc. The Access web apps are stored in SharePoint, why not allow more integration with SharePoint’s features and/or data?

What are some of your new feature requests in the next version of Access?

 

Update: Access 2013 web apps now support linking to any SharePoint lists from any SharePoint site, albeit read-only. You can use a web browser control to point to a page for editing SharePoint lists within the Access 2013 web app and still have capabilities to perform queries against the SharePoint lists. This is actually a big improvement over 2010 web database where you could only have SharePoint lists on the same site where the web database was published to, and could not use Document Library.

About Juan Soto

Juan Soto is a Senior Access Developer at IT Impact Inc. and a Microsoft Access MVP. He specializes in Access with SQL Server databases. His passion for Access has led him to helping a wide range of businesses in helping them establish a secure, stable and efficient environment with SQL Server. He's a frequent speaker at Access user groups nationwide and recently spoke at the Orange County SQL Saturday # 73. If you wish to have Juan speak at your next group meeting you can contact him here.

13 Responses to "What I’d love to see in the next version of Access"

  • Jared G.
    October 6, 2013 - 1:29 am Reply

    A major improvement that needs to happen is the ability to have printer-friendly popup views for printing signable contracts. I would like to be able to print a view that doesn’t include the left-hand app navigation, without having to create a separate report in Access client.

  • ronnie valero
    June 18, 2013 - 6:45 pm Reply

    Thanls Ben, By the way on searching the web I found this http://online.appdev.com/edge/blogs/keng/archive/2010/08/06/visual-studio-lightswitch-what-microsoft-access-could-have-been.aspx . According to Ken Genz (Just a tidbits of his write up) “For years, when asked (and even when not asked) I’ve been telling folks at Microsoft what I think Access ought to become: a database-oriented design tool for beginners that generates XAML markup and a project that can then be loaded into Visual Studio for development purposes. Unfortunately, the lure of Sharepoint called Access in that direction, and it never became the XAML-producing tool I had hoped for.”. Now I had the glimpse why?

  • ronnie valero
    June 13, 2013 - 9:24 pm Reply

    Why Ken Getz,Paul Litwin and Mike Gurdenloy is not active on MS Access development and writing Access developers books? Their last version was Access 2002 Enterprise Developer’s Handbook. Maybe the three masters don’t like the direction of Access.

  • ronnie valero
    June 13, 2013 - 9:13 pm Reply

    Make sharepoint optional. it’s better access services can be consumed by IIS by default. or maybe jump to php since Access always gets no credit as a developer tool but diverted as information worker power tool.

    Rob Gravesteijn idea is the best so far! we had tasted remote desktop/remoteapp and it’s the best very cost effective solution to run Access Apps in the cloud using VPN. When high speed internet will become cheap in the future, most access developer will not push on developing Access web apps, RDP is fine.

  • Patrick Wood
    June 8, 2013 - 9:46 am Reply

    @Juan
    Here is a big “Amen” to your list of features you would like to have in the next version of Access!

  • Patrick Wood
    June 8, 2013 - 9:03 am Reply

    Hi Francesco,

    I have not tried Apex SQL I am trying to keep up with the changes in Access! I need to update the version of my web site but I hit a snag with that and have not got around to finding a solution.

    Visual Studio is Microsoft’s Flagship Integrated Software Development Environment. In the most complete editions you can do just about anything you can think of from web sites to Windows desktop applications to Creating Add-ins for Office Applications, SQL Server development, Cloud development, Windows Phone development, LightSwitch, Software Testing, etc. It almost does it all. However you can get the free editions and some of the less expensive editions that focus on development of a single application or type of application for a less expensive price.

    Access is going to be a desktop application for a long time sort of the same way some companies still use COBOL. Plus Access is now a Web App development application. Everything is going to the web, to tablets, smart phones, etc. Office is being directed more to the web especially with Office 365 and purchasing Office by subscription.

  • Patrick Wood
    June 8, 2013 - 5:11 am Reply

    @Rob
    If it can open a web page it can open an Access Web App. Tablets and Pads can use Web Apps. Granted at the present they do not work all that well with phones but I have seen it done. Just like any other app you have to develop specifically for phones. Since Microsoft has just started with Access Web Apps we are just seeing the beginning of the improvements to come.

    You can’t do VBA on a web page like a rdp session. What you are asking for has to work on a *web page*. Web pages use HTML and JavaScript. Access and VBA uses COM. They are two totally different worlds. VBA and web pages are just not compatible. If it could be done in a reliable and cost effective way somebody would have already done it and be making a lot of money.

    @Francesco
    Microsoft does provide a free web site development tool that enables you to create and design web sites. It is called Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web. I started with an earlier version and used it to start my own web site back in 2008. I like it so well that I later purchased Visual Studio to further develop my web site.

    • Francesco
      June 8, 2013 - 6:11 am Reply

      @Patrick
      Have you tried Oracle APEX? I know what is VS.NET since 2003 …
      What is the difference between Visual Studio and Access? This is the answer.
      Access is much more similar to APEX compared to VS, but APEX = web and Access … we wait!

  • Francesco
    June 8, 2013 - 1:06 am Reply

    I would like to find a real environment for the Web. I’m looking Oracle APEX. Free, powerful, and enough easy to use. In addition the development environment online is offered for free. It may not be fully compatible with the PL / SQL, maybe you should do something in Java, but for an old developer SQL is not a bad start.
    Why Microsoft does not do something like that? They told me that there is Lightswitch. You pay for it and it does not seem very friendly…
    A Microsoft has SQL Server, has T-SQL, has the VB. Why not put them together to create something like APEX this?
    That’s what I’d like to have in the new Access!

  • Rob Gravesteijn
    June 7, 2013 - 11:20 pm Reply

    Hello Juan,

    My two pennies: What I think Microsoft should do, is create a thin MS-Access web client, that communicates with a actual MS-Access database on a webserver somewhere. That database can be stand-alone or hooked into a SQL-server database. The thin client only needs to present the forms and reports and process the mouse clicks and keyboard entries and send them to the db on the webserver, where they can be processed by the “normal” Access program using VBA. It would be very much like working on a rdp session, but then without the expensive rdp licenses. Printing can be done in a similar way as it is with rdp.

    The thin web client should run on all devices, like smart phones, iPads, tabs, but also on normal computers. It could be an extension of the IE web browser or an android like app. By creating this thin web client, MS-Access can then be fully deployed on the web and Apps for smart phones could be created as well in MS-Access…! Existing Access databases can be used without mayor rework.

    If Microsoft were to invest in such an thin client extension, MS-Access could be there for many more years to come.

    Best regards,
    Rob Gravesteijn
    MS-Access programmer in the Netherlands

  • dinosaur
    June 7, 2013 - 4:30 pm Reply

    find a new software product

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