I have now returned home to Canada after an extended stay in the Netherlands over the summer working on an Access Services project. Beyond the fact that there are much worse places to hang out than Holland, I also learned a lot about myself, about my technology and about the entire “Consulting” business, especially for us small-app developers.
About myself I learned that I was capable of discipline ;-). I could get up at 6:30 and get to the office by 7:30 or 8 and work steadily on one thing until 5 or 6 pm. First I was amazed that I had no problem with energy or attention. As a work-at-home developer for 25+ years the draw of the bed for a nap or the dog-walk or the break watching tv is strong and sucks productivity out of me. I can feel it happening already in the 2 days I’ve been back. As much as the idea of going to an office every day has always looked to me like going to jail for 8 to 10 hour a day I can now see some value from it. It also helps that I worked with a great bunch of characters inside a cool business for that time, so maybe I was just lucky.
So my big challenge now is to try to apply this new-found discipline in my regular environment of flitting from project to project within a day. It’s going to be a challenge but it’s gotta be done (if nothing it will mean making more money actually – what a concept ??). But it will be hard to do with Grandkids, dogs, wife, friends and generally with the interference of a life. Frankly I don’t know how people can have a life and work in an office every day. I have just spent 2 1/2 months doing nothing but work, eat and sleep (no tourism either) and I found I was finally getting enough done in a day … but how do you lay that over your life and not lose out on both the work and the life? It’s got me thinking to be sure.
Secondly I discovered that Access Services is the real thing. 3 years ago I bet on Access Services and I have had some real successes (and no failures) with the Hybrid version of Access 2010 and Access Services. Once again the Hybrid has come through strongly in this latest project but I also was forced (against my will frankly 🙂 ) to include a lot of Browser-only content and I found it didn’t take me long to get the hang of pumping out some compelling and functional Browser-only Access 2010 Forms and Reports. I have reached the point where I can manipulate the Web Form design almost as quickly and easily as as a client form (but with a lot less functionality of course).
Sure the Macros in WebForms are a little bizarre … and I’m not willing to say it’s just because they’re different, but I have found a set of techniques that seem to get the job done (BrowseTo anyone?) and I have to always keep in mind the limitations of this 1.0 technology.
Thirdly, having been allowed to work on one project 40+ hours a week for 9ish weeks I have once again been overwhelmed by howpowerful Microsoft Access really is as a rapid development tool. Frankly what we accomplished in that time cost a fraction of alternative solutions and provides a great user-environment for a serious production application ina real serious business.
I just hope that Microsoft doesn’t drop the ball on Excel and especially Access with their drive to convert Office 15 to a “Google-Killer” while reducing their internal resources and costs. In the end something will probably have to give and it just might be the Access that we know and love.
The jury’s out on that for me and I will be keeping a close eye on the progress in Office 15 while arguing for Excel and Access as loudly as I can without getting myself turfed out of the “club” 🙂 …
In the end it’s good to be home and I promise to Blog more … thanx for sticking with me.
p.s. I can’t possibly thank Mark White enough for the “lead” on this Holland project. Thank you my friend and I will do whatever I can to return the favour somehow.
p.p.s I am having serious probems with Access after installing Office 2010 SP1. It keeps corrupting my VBA code and forcing me to run Access with the DECOMPILE switch to get it back. I am not sure whether this will be an issue for users who are not editing the code but it is enough for me to be rolling back my SP1 install and suggesting my clients not to upgrade either until MS comes up with a fix.
To run Access in DECOMPILE mode until I get the SP rolled back (which hopefully works) I created a Desktop shortcut for it with the following command-line:
“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\MSACCESS.EXE” /decompile
Be warned !!