Let’s Push Access Services

The last year and a half hits on my Blog have steadily increased (despite my postings steadily decreasing :-)).  There is a simple reason for this….  People are reaching out to find out about Access Services and yet, frankly, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of good solid info or honest testimonials about this technology, espevcially about the Hybrid concept.  This is really pissing me off …

I have outlined ad nauseum here the advantages of this technology with regards to deployment, performance distribution, even the fact that most Hybrid applications in Access 2010 have limited impact on SharePoint Server operations.  And yet nothing (or next to nothing).

I was stunned when MS decided to include Access Services in Office 365 but the absence of Reporting Services capability pretty much completely destroys that idea.  I have touted AccessHosting.com (owned by Larry Strange who I like very much) and there have been some people heading to him thanx to this Blog.  Please keep in mind that Access Hosting has made a BG commitment to this technology, YOUR technology, and is willing to work wth you on making your experience the best it can be (including Reporting :-)).

In the interest of fairness I would be glad to review any other offering in this vein of course.

But regardless who you use as your Access Server supplier, I believe that there should be pressure to get more info out there about this technology and perhaps even a little hint of future plans for Access Services so we can go to our clients and make a better case for using Access with SharePoint.

Thoughts?

Dick

About Biggus Dickus

Dick is a consultant in London, ON Canada who specializes in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Office Development.
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10 Responses to Let’s Push Access Services

  1. Jeff Spardy says:

    Greetings Dick,

    I always enjoy your posts; both your candor and the value of your Access expertise. Thank you for both!

    A video you made a while ago piqued my curiosity about Access Services and as I learned more about it I became very excited about the potential for offering my clients web access to the Access applications I develop for them. (By the way, I contacted your friends at AccessHosting.com and was most impressed with their product and their service.)

    The snag came when I realized that Sharepoint does not support VBA – and a hybrid solution that puts the VBA on the client’s PC cannot be secured as an acccde. This is a showstopper for me as my code is my livelihood and I’m not in a position to make it freeware.

    I am hopeful that Microsoft will announce a way past this limitation either by supporting VBA on Sharepoint or allowing accde apps to work with Sharepoint. If and when they announce that – I’m in – in a big way! In the meantime, I’m deploying my apps as mde/accde files in the traditional client/server world.

    Are you aware of any good news on the horizon in this regard?

    • Biggus Dickus says:

      Thanx Jeff…

      I agree that not being able to compile the frontend is a ridiculous problem and is frankly a reflection IMHO of what MS wants Access to be – namely a Power-User Departmental application. I have told them I think this is presumptious – who are they to tell us what we should do with this technology (?) – but that’s the way they seemed to look at it when launching Access 2010.

      What their attitude towards existing devs in the next version remains to be seen …. they are VERY interested in bringing new people (read licenses) to Access with 15 so despite their protestations to the contrary I’m sure that WE are not the key constituency for Access 15. What that constituency is going to be is something I haven’t quite figured out yet🙂.

      But ironically I see nothing in the new version that will prevent us from moving forward with our serious Access development, we will just probably have to accept that we will be mstly on our own – as usual🙂 ..

      Dick
      p.s. If you import Access Services tables into a Regular Project Access creates a LINK to the Access services Table on the server. You have to import the Table from an existing Web Project. This SEEMS to create for you the ability to have a LINK to Access Services data on SharePoint in a Project that you can compile. My concern is performance and user rights though and I have not tested this all out yet. Anybody who has please let me know what happens please (?)

  2. Hello Dick,
    I am starting to use both pure web databases and a published web database accessed via linked tables from a standard database. With the latter it is mainly as a means for franchises of one of my customers who wants to share quite complicated data between physically separated databases, i.e. to import and export data between those databases. The amount of data transferred is not great in quantity (so I can’t give a response on performance), but it is complicated and thus it is far easier to use than e-mailing the data.

    I would also like to add to your comments about AccessHosting.com. They are a very helpful, professional company and seem to know more about how to run SharePoint than Microsoft do. If you can use them, I would highly recommend them. I still can’t really believe that MS can’t run Reporting Services themselves. Whatever is going on there, eh?

    One word of warning though. If you want to use web databases connected to personal data about people in the European Union (EU), there are certain rules (for EU people and companies) about where the data can be stored if you want to be legal (which we do!). Office365 seems to fit the bill on this, I think, as they have European servers and Microsoft have signed up to a Safe Harbor agreement with the EU. This may not be the case with all online SharePoint providers.

    • Biggus Dickus says:

      Hey Alan…

      Thanx for your comments and experience with linked tables to Access Services Tables.

      One interesting little-known fact is that if you create an ACCDE file from your regular Access front-end, post that to a SharePoint Document Library and then distribute the link to THAT file an amazing thing happens. EVERY TIME you run that link the front end gets downloaded to a local cache and then launched from there. That means the user is using a local version of the Frontend (which is good) and they always get the most recent version of the application (also a good thing). This means that you can also stage new versions and upgrades to selected users (assuming the changes to the backend don’t break the old version) before you go to Porduction – AND of course – it means you can protect your IP by using an ACCDE and protecting the VBA Project with a password.

      Frankly, I’m beginning to think this is the way to go more and more and if you REALLY find you are using a LARGE data set you could create a kind of synchronization technique to copy archived info a local table. On the contrary, for most Access apps, that really wouldn’t be necessary – IMHO.

      As far as Basel and SOX and where your data is stored, if you are managing or reporting on HR and/or published financial data then I strongly suggest you stay inside your firewall anyway. But that leaves 95% of potential Access apps perfectly ok to use with AccessHosting or some other service like Office 365.

      Dick

      • Hiya Dick,
        I very much agree with what you write. The keeping front ends up to date that way is a good idea if on a network with a decent speed of transfer (not so hot across the internet perhaps, depending on the size of your front end so to speak).
        The problem with EU data is that it covers personal data of any kind as far as I am aware and, I think, includes things like phone numbers, addresses and so on. This means that we can’t use US SharePoint providers unless they have done the Safe Harbor thing. Now I may be wrong on that and really hope I am. If someone could convince me I’d be using AccessHosting.com like a shot. I prefer to use a provider who knows how to use the software involved (like AccessHosting do and Microsoft don’t appear to, despite it being their own software).

      • Biggus Dickus says:

        I ubderstand the issues around the EU data. I’ll talk to Larry and see if he’s interested in setting up something in Europe … sounds like an opportunity to me. Larry ???

  3. Bonnie says:

    I just finished a consulting job developing an access web database for a team of remote users. There are about 14,000 records in the largest table (list) so I optimized the speed by querying smaller data sets. So far, so good. Especially pleased with the reporting (I am using AccessHosting), running several nice looking custom reports plus the ability to print out labels. It’s a great team tool for consistent data access on any PC.

    I watched your hybrid app video. Very interesting. I would love to see one that demonstrates how to do some things in a web browser and others locally with a reasonable user experience when swaping.

    I’m with you on pushing Access Services – I see lots of opportunities and uses if Microsoft will continue to improve and advance the product.

    Bonnie

  4. Dale Logan says:

    Dick,

    I have a client that wants a daily update from a hybrid Access app I built for them. They have created something on their internal system (AS400) that needs this update from my hybrid app. Do you know if this is something that can be automated with Access Services? I’m thinking it could be uploaded to an FTP server. What would really be nice if they could simply create something that would pull it from SharePoint. FYI: I am using AccessHosting for SP. Which is really cool BTW.

    Thanks, Dale

  5. Rx says:

    Great point. As an advanced Access with SQL 2008 back end developer, Microsoft in general has dropped the ball.
    My preference is to use Excel Object Model programming to create reports. It allows for custom BI and the user community can use the interface to create very custom Excel reports that include advanced features (including embedded code).

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