Dutch Treat

Sorry for not blogging lately (as is if anyone actually comes here – actually quite a  few do). I have been busy, busy on a project in Europe while working evenings back in North America. I actually like this double-time working but it kinda means I have zero family life (except through the magic of Skype). It looks like I will be here until the end of August then it’ll be home to my 2 cats, 2 dogs, 2 Grandkids, Son, Wife at home and to a soon to be born new Grandbaby at Daughter and Son-In-Law’s house.

But why am I doing this to myself? Greed mostly :-). But also it’s an opportunity to do a major project using Access 2010, SharePoint 2010 and Access Services. And it’s going very well on all fronts.

The first thing I have to point out is that this is a perfect Access Services application:

  1. The Project involves a large number of related tables but not a huge amount of data.  It’s a classic situation where a spreadsheet just can’t handle the business process (in fact  multiple spreadsheets ended up being used with limited success).
  2. There is a small group of administrating staff who will use a Hybrid app as the core
  3. There will up to 50 occasional consumers who will view the data in the Browser only

I must say that this is the first time I have intensely developed Web-only Access objects in an app and I am actually enjoying it in ways I did not anticipate.

In the end it looks like the  client is very pleased with what I have accomplished in the two weeks so far (a response that we Access developers understand – yes?). BUT as usual once it was shown to a VP he started talking about using the app in this other department and that other department and so on and so on and away we go again ………  It looks like I may have t learn how to “scale” and Access Services app now.  But remember, if I move the data to SQL then I lose the Browser-only interface, but on the other hand I may need to do that to accommodate mu;ltiple departments.

Aaagggghhh !! At least they pay well and once I get their business figured out the project WILL move back home with me for remote development and support.

I will keep you posted on my successes and failures.

Hoping all in the Northern Hemisphere are having a great summer…. I wish I was …. but money is better than sunlight I guess.


About Biggus Dickus

Dick is a consultant in London, ON Canada who specializes in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Office Development.
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6 Responses to Dutch Treat

  1. Michael S says:

    Hey Dick – that’s an interesting post. It sounds like a nice project other than the lack of sunrays. If you move to sql then you not only lose the browser only interface, you also lose the hybrid interface. At least as I have experienced it. Hybrid relies on sharepoint for the part of the app that is on the server. And if I’m mistaken (it’s been a while since I experimented with it) you can’t have links to a sql server odbc datasource in a hybrid app.

    All of the offline data sync stuff is sharepoint only – at this time. Someone from Microsoft told me that the sync feature is NOT inherently tied to sharepoint; that it could be expanded to sync to sql server etc (the huron project that was showed off a couple of years ago was Access/SQL Server). But who knows if they will expand it.

    I don’t know about the other kind of sync that hybrid apps offer, where the local accdb picks up design changes that have been published to the server. That might be more hard wired in to sharepoint. I don’t know anything about that; the Microsoft person that told me sync was not inherently sharepoint dependent didn’t go into any details re data vs UI sync.

    Are they hosting this on their own servers? Or AccessHosting, or Office365?

    • Biggus Dickus says:

      Hey Michael … Great to hear from you.

      Actually you CAN use External linked tables (such as SQL Server ones) in the Hybrid Access app. Actually I can make an argument for hosting the Access front-end Forms, queries, reports, etc. on Sharepoint then reach out to SQL for the data :-)…. Except for the loss of the Browser-only stuff and the local cache, I’d go for that scenario I think…


      • Michael S says:

        I guess I mis-remember my experiments with hybrid and linked tables. According to what you are saying, you’d get the front end distribution aspect of hybrid if you linked to sql server.

        That is cool, and would be the ticket for your project. In terms of raw ‘value’ for general development, the front end replication is ok but not nearly as useful to me as the data sync. I already have a good methodology for distributing front ends to remote clients. But the data sync feature of Access 2010 hybrid apps is by far the simplest way to enable disconnected users that I’ve experimented with. The ability to almost transparently support disconnected users is killer. It’s not easy to implement in .net even with the very good sync framework.

        But anyways it’s good news if hybrid can use linked tables, but of course a drag that the browser UI is of course missing.

  2. Michael S says:

    I have two other comments re posts you made back in Nov 2010. I won’t post there because likely almost no one will read comments on those archived posts (?). Maybe I’m wrong about that.

    One, your Most Valuable Volunteer retitling is a great idea, which of course will not be implemented by Microsoft. MVV would cover the bases completely. For myself the program does not bug me. I appreciate the work the “MVP”s put in, and I ask questions re Access and other tech from time to time. I don’t answer too many questions because most of the time someone has already handled it, and I am not usually on the forums etc unless I am researching some issue I have to deal with.

    One thing that I find amusing and a little too typical of the normal expert mentality is that you almost never find an MVP asking questions in the regular venues. It creates an illusion that MVPs are kind of authorities that “know” and don’t need to ask. That’s part of the silly stuff that software devs and lots of experts drag around with them. It’s a turn off. MVP program/status or not I do appreciate the help that I get on the forums; used to get on the newsgroups.

    Two, Lightswitch vs Access. I sincerely hope that Lightswitch does evolve into a framework that is as productive as Access is. At this time, Lightswitch has a lot of very cool aspects, but is also sorely lacking in many regards. The UI options are very limited unless you get into creating a lot of custom code. It’s much much more difficult to write a really sweet UI with Lightswitch. I can’t think of any software I’ve written for a client that would be acceptable inside the confines of the base Lightswitch forms interface. To create a great UI like my clients are used to getting would probably take a massive amount of custom code. So for myself, even though I’m do some work in .Net (ie it’s not totally new turf) I cannot imagine using Lightswitch for anything real – yet.

    I think the dumbed down UI that Lightswitch presents is what developers that don’t work with Access *think* Access is about. Wrong! Access has most of the UI flex that VB6 had. Which is a lot.

    But I do hope that after v1 of Lightswitch the product will gain depth, esp on the UI side. Third party firms are starting offer add ins for Lightswitch. I hope Lightswitch makes it, and gets improved fast, because there is almost no trace of any interest from the Office/Access team that building professional level applications is a priority for them. Or rather, there is little sign that the Office/Access team intends to support Access *developers*.

    After a meeting with a major Access team guy, when I’d shown off a major Access app that is at the core of operations for one department of a billion dollar corporation, when I said part of why I was good is that I really grokked the end users and with Access could deliver what they needed in short order, he said of me (very enthusiastically, and well intentioned) “It’s almost like you’re not really a developer!” I think that is part of it – the people that are in charge of Access and Office don’t swim in our waters. They’re writing “real software” in C++ or whatever. I don’t think they know, like we do, how good Access is.

    Anyways they have done some nice stuff with Access 2010, and I appreciate that. Yet I find it extremely puzzling that so little attention has been paid to the fact that there is a massive need for data-centric application development in the model that Access was created in, but in more modern tech.

    • Biggus Dickus says:

      Great thoughts as always Michael. It’s late here and I don’t have the energy to respond other than I agree completely with your comments. Thanx for bringing this stuff back up – better late than never ;-).

      p.s. I am even reluctant to ask qustions on-line for that same reason (I’m supposed to be an expert). I guess I could create a dummy alias and use that (??)

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