How do you use Access?


I was browsing Business Week last week and noticed a BlackBerry ad asking people to tell them what they do with their BlackBerry. I like effort to get to know their customers–something you can never understand with enough clarity. In the Access world it is tough because we have so many different customers doing a variety of different things. Right now I’m working on planning stuff where customer research is vital to creating a vision that maps to customer requirements and scenarios.


I’m assuming most of you that read this blog are heavy Access users. Please take a few minutes and tell me a little about your scenarios. Here are some questions to prime the pump but don’t feel like you need to follow this outline:



  • What is your industry?

  • Are you an end user, power user, or developer?

  • Do you work for a small business or enterprise?

  • How many apps do you build in a year?

  • How many users use your application?

  • Do you have requirements to expose your application on the Internet?

  • Are you using Access 2007, SharePoint, or Office Live?

Please tell me more!

Comments (4)

  1. Alan Cossey says:

    What is your industry? Writing apps for other companies.

    Are you an end user, power user, or developer? Developer

    Do you work for a small business or enterprise? My company (me) does works for different people ranging from a single person (a health consultant) through to a site where 300+ people work. All sorts of industries involved (gunsmith, chemical company, neuroligist, print finishing company, land searches, hearing aids, training centre)

    How many apps do you build in a year? ~4 new ones, but continue to add lots of stuff to existing ones.

    How many users use your application? 1- 30, but concurrent users maximum is probably ~6

    Do you have requirements to expose your application on the Internet? Oh yes.

    Are you using Access 2007, SharePoint, or Office Live? Access 2007 and starting to use Office Live.

    Things I like about Access in general:

    Much faster to develop the sort of applications my customers need. I ventured into .NET world and came back to Access.

    Pivot tables and pivot charts for interactive reporting.

    Customers seem to be able to relate to Access and Access developers. It gets used by people (power users and developers) who seem to know some stuff about business and customer requirements rather than by "pure" programmers who may be on a different planet to the rest of us. Much of this seems to come from the background of Access developers who have often been in business of some sort before moving to Access and that means they can keep enough knowledge of how businesses work in their brain as well as learning enough programming and other development methods, using Access, to develop applications that are really useful.

    Things I like about Access 2007:

    Interaction with Office Live (learning is very much ongoing).

    Rich Text format ability, inbuilt calendar for dates in text boxes, sorting and filtering improvements.

    Data collection via e-mail.

    Am getting to like the ribbon for my own development use.

    The possibility of some decent security (but see below).

    Things I am not so keen on in Access 2007:

    Having to jump through hoops to modify the ribbon.

    Inability to modify ribbon height (or have I missed something – I know you can hide it by double-clicking it).

    Having to jump through hoops to use some sort of granular security.

  2. Ken Jensen says:

    What is your industry? Insurance

    Are you an end user, power user, or developer? Developer

    Do you work for a small business or enterprise? Enterprise

    How many apps do you build in a year? I build a several small apps and few large apps.  My apps are always changing with additions many of which are bigger than a small to medium app itself.

    How many users use your application? Up to 70 or so.  Some are more specialized and thos are 10-15 users.

    Do you have requirements to expose your application on the Internet? No

    Are you using Access 2007, SharePoint, or Office Live? Using Access 2007 trial now and plans under way to convert all users from Office Standard to Professional.

    With Access 2007 being more user friendly we plan to have all users be able to make modifications to databases (In their own copies of the production databases) or create small apps or parts of the large apps.  Our apps are ever changing with govt regulations and user/executive change requests we feel it will be very beneficial to train users to make these small changes allowing developers to spend more time on larger apps and less time trying to schedule and work on small changes.  It will also enable the users to try things on their own creating a better envrionment for future development.

  3. Stevbe says:

    What is your industry?  Bigbox retail

    Are you an end user, power user, or developer? Developer

    Do you work for a small business or enterprise?  Enterprise

    How many apps do you build in a year?  3-6

    How many apps do you chnage/ maintain in a year?  10-12

    How many users use your application? 30 max concurrent

    Do you have requirements to expose your application on the Internet? No

    Are you using Access 2007, SharePoint, or Office Live? No

    The company I work for found that users were making a botch of Access and asking for dev help after it went horribly wrong which, before I got here, meant brining in consultants $$$. I now do all of our Access development and users only have runtime. I have standards for source code control, deployment, naming conventions, etc. This has become very important as we are a public company and need to meet all sorts of federal regulations (SOX, HIPPA, PII). Not that the 60+ apps I own fall under HIPPA, PII (I am moving them into a more secure environment) but when an app is considered FSI (that SEC thingy) we don’t have any problems with audits as I have full documentation and follow our SDLC guidlines. I can only imagine the problems if we still had 1500+ people messing with *their* data which (yup we use to have 300+ apps, most of which did not work at all and had been abandoned, think of all the wasted time) could have been a major problem as there is a perception that Access only contains their data (because their apps are typically narrow in scope) but it really belongs to and directly effects our organization as a whole. Please, someone offer me a job in the private sector :-)

    When we finally do move to 2007 (1+ yrs from now) I will be very busy, I am currently creating my 2007 standard and the ribbon is the single largest hurdle as I don’t use replication or ULS. I am sorry to see ADPs being depricated as there are a few apps I would have like to move in that direction but I will now be staying old school and linking to SQL Server tables.

  4. grovelli says:

    I think Alan really hits the nail on the head when he says, "Access developers who have often been in business of some sort before…"

    I’m an energy manager and I consider Access as the best tool to handle all the data at my disposal, dare I say it’s a useful extension of one’s mind because it’s still on a human scale, you don’t need to be an adept of some obscure programmer’s circles to use it but at the same time it allows you to ease in on its intrinsic programmable power. Typical example in my case: the query grid was a fantastic way to get me started on sql and from then I’ve been able to move onto understanding books dealing with sql much more easily.