What features do you want in Access 14?

I know, I know–most of you are still trying to get the hang of Access 2007 and now I’m talking about the next version! Last week I sat in on 8 hours of outstanding ideas about the next version of Access by the development team—lots of cool ideas in the hopper.

I want to start a thread/dialog about what you would like to see in the next version. If you were leading the team–how would you layout the agenda?

Comments (21)

  1. Reports direct to XPS documents please…i.e. without having to print them to an XPS print driver.


  2. John Tarbox says:

    What would it take to make Access a 100% managed code (i.e. .NET) application?

  3. Ken Jensen says:

    Just some that came to my mind quick:

    1.  Adjustable ribbon sizes.  The ability to have a ribbon the height of just the smaller icons would be great for the final user databases.  I like it as is for developing.  For now we plan to have the ribbon minimized and the space used is about that of a menubar.  When opened the ribbon will add a lot to what could be done with a menubar though.

    2.  A visual tool to change ribbons.  Ribbons in XML aren’t overly difficult but Access is a RAD tool with and having ribbons not be in synch with this type of environment slows down development.

    3.  Colored command buttons and tabs.  Sure there are solutions but the extra code, controls, and loss of some features can be annoying.  Transparent backgound for 2007 is a nice start.

    4.  An on mouse over event.  Much like the standard web event would be perfect.

    I’m sure I’ll find more as I begin to use Access 2007 for all of my projects and start to roll out 2007 databases to my users.  For me it can’t happen soon enough.  I love the new interface and features.


  4. Tim Toennies says:

    Was dissapointed that the .adp interface was removed from Access 2007.  I’d like to see that reintroduced using the SQL Native client driver for 2005

  5. Neil Jordan says:

    I second the enhancements (#1 and #2) mentioned by Ken Jensen.

    I would also like the security model revisited.  I don’t have a problem with securing the data from a back end, but you have got to have a security system to stop people from opening forms or reports etc that you don’t want them to.  The move away from it in Access 2007 native file format is a BIG mistake for all us existing developers, who put up with the annoying interface that security currently is, but need the features.

    It would also be nice to have a runtime model that has moved onwards towards a stand-alone EXE rather than the same system that has been used for years.

  6. Knox says:

    seems like 13 was aimed at newbies and most enhancements were along those lines.  I would like to see developer focus given to A14.

    little things like when in query design view, allow me to easily see what aliases really point to.  Better yet, let me right click and immediately go to the design of those queries and tables that appear.

    Better support for dependencies.  For some reason (vbscript, functions, aliases?) the dependancy shows a bunch of objects it can’t decide on.

    Can you do graphical support for complex queries, like sub queries?

    Much better editor with intellisense for SQL view.

    Much better editor for the zoom tool for a single cell.

    Inline comments in the SQL

    Real folders within folders support for object classification rather than the shortcut approach.

    And finally, push a button and your application runs with a native internet face.


  7. AL says:


    Thanks for providing a forum for this.  Here are a few of my top 100:

    -Replicate all the current features of Access in a 100% .NET programming environment. Make Access forms, reports, and all other objects available as a part of a larger .NET project.  IOW, provide .NET classes that wrap all of the Access object functionality, so that Access objects can be dropped into an existing .NET project.  Do the same for ASP.NET and AJAX.  Don’t even think about COM-interop.  Just throw it out.

    -Provide turn-key support for click-once auto-updating installation of Access solutions – with automatic checking and notification of available updates.

    -Provide simplified support for industrial-strength SQL Server and Oracle apps while using the latest ADO.NET connection models.  Allow a choice of connected and disconnected recordsets.  Provide an option to emulate the current ADO object model, but using the more complicated ADO.NET objects behind the scenes.

    -Massively enhance the datasheeet model, allowing embedded controls, true RTF (not HTML) in cells, owner-drawn cells, group-by functionality, individually resizable row (size to fit).  Enhance to subdatasheet model to include subtotals and nicer formatting.

    -Improve conditional formatting to match that of Excel, allowing unlimited conditions and modifications to each cell or entire row

    -Allow conditional formatting in datasheets.

    -Enhanced, simplifed Pivot Table/chart support

    -Allow user to create/edit/save real fully-functional Excel spreadsheets directly in the Access UI, using the Access object model.

    -Enable the Visual studio type of docking (with optional locking of panels) in routine Access projects.

    -Create a new type of user/group security that really is secure.  At the very least, provide a security front-ned for SQL Server and Oracle pojects.  Everyone needs this – why so we all nedd to roll our own?

    -Re-think replication.  The previous model had lots of problems, but it solved a real need.

    -Provide better support for normal toolbars and menus.  Ribbons are not necessarily the best approach for all apps.

    -Provide much more documentation on what happens behind the scenes, such as switching from design to form to datasheet to pivot table views.  We have a right to know what happens to our data and instantiated objects when the view are changed.

    -Data warehouse query/view/report support.


  8. 0) Access should not corrupt.

    1) Making Excel a key reporting tool from Access. Sure we can do this with Excel automation but hey, not everyone is a programmer.

    2) Get rid of the ldb file. This will allow you to place a file in a folder without giving a user the permission to create a file. With that permission removed, you can stop people browsing a folder. Once that is solved, maybe you could have a bundle of Access files and allocate Windows Permissions as appropriate for each one.

    3) Strip the key goodies from ADP files and place them in a ACCDB (MDB) file. Drop anything that is trying to emulate Enterprise Manager in SQL Server.

    4) The MDE file is good; maybe copiled queries and hidden linked tbls to make it it more secure.

    5) Stop spending all your time on marketing features and spend time fine tuning Access. The button wizards haven’t changed in 10 years and they are still so useful. Spend a lot more time in focus groups with beginner to medium level programmers to find out what they are doing (badly). 80% of the last 10 years of development has not amounted to much for the majority of databases that I see at clients. ie. ADP, Data Pages, ADO, macro security, help file formats.

  9. Zlatko says:

    I need parameters in saved pass-through queries (parameterized pass-through queries). It is very important when using Access as front-end for different SQL databases, such as PostgreSQL server.

    Also, it would be nice if subforms could be based (bounded) to pass-through queries.



  10. Thanks for your comments everyone.  

    AL has enough work to keep a team twice the team busy for a long time :-). Backwards compat is tough taking that path.

    We definitely have heard the requests for

    – new security model

    – ribbon designers

    – more control for web like design (ken has a great list)

    – better managed code support

    Lots of good ideas.

  11. Martin Reid says:

    RI in WSS – a must

    ADPs – a favourite technology of mine. Fully working with SQL Server 2005

    Increased use of templates for users.

    Easier intregration with .NET

    Excel as a reporting tool with min amount of coding required. Good idea from gary and be great for my users.

    Security model for logging into SQL Server out of the box would be nice.

    I like the Ribbons.

  12. DarrenMyher@hotmail.com says:

    1. The ability to Zoom reports while designing them so that you can have finer control over the alignment of items on the report without having to press your face up to the monitor.  (Especially important for those of us running at 1900×1200.)

    2. A "Design for Screen Resolution" feature maybe something like a warning or ability to prevent a form from being resized beyond a set screen resolution target (like 1024×768) when in design mode so you don’t accidentally save a form 1700 wide, then end up with users complaining they can’t see data that’s cut off.

    3. Guidance on how to deploy apps on VISTA machines — especially with respect to runtime.  If with UAC turned on the user can’t edit files in Program Files folders then either give us a solution that doesn’t require the files to be read/write (such as storing temp data in some other virtual file in the user’s temp data folders automatically/seamlessly) or some other automated or well documented solution.

    – Unlike compiled .exes, Access developers tend to make frequent changes to the .mde and have a need to frequently deploy updates to end users.  How should developers update their apps when they’re running on Vista machines?

    As others have mentioned …

    – RAD designer for the ribbon

    – A query designer for SQL Passthrough queries like the one built into SQL2005, but better — add some intellisense to things like table names so you can type "dbo." and get a list of tables…

    Other requests:

    – A version of the object list that isn’t so difficult to navigate.  I can appreciate what you’re trying to do with the object list in 2007, and I’m sure it works fine for small apps, but when you’ve got an app with 500 tables, 800 forms, etc. it takes forever to find what you want in that list.  At least with the old Access 2003 style database window you could have a multi-column view stretched the full width of the screen. (If you’re developing an app for wide use, odds are the first thing your going to do is hide that object list from end users anyway, why not make it more useful for developers?)

    – Figure out a way to make those multi-value fields work with a SQL Server backend.

    – Further enhance the rich text control to allow the user to paste images and/or other binary data.  Allow the user to designate a separate field for the "text only" part of the rich text, and a different container for the "marked up" rich text

  13. Neil Jordan says:

    Something that has always struck me as odd is that the SQL specific queries have to be done in SQL code rather than visually, although I don’t see this as an urgent one on the wish list.

    I would think that for more basic users this would be a harsh introduction to these  Although I use the Union query from time to time, I get by the direct route, but this may be more of an issue to other people.  If you convert from a normal select query and forget to copy out the SQL statement before going into the Union one, it is a pain.  The easiest way I have found around this is to open up other queries with the designs in, then copy the SQL across, but I would imagine that could be difficult to teach to beginners.

    I haven’t switched over to 2007 for our apps, but it must be said that for an administrator of a database, not having the same kind of ability to just hide/unhide the database window is a real pain!  I think that the whole Menu/Ribbon thinking needs a re-think as discussed before, as it might make it easier in the long run for users, but developers need more tools to make it work, and more options to make it work and look they way that THEY want it.

  14. Nigel Bate says:

    Ability to resize the box for linking a sub report, when adding a sub report to a main report, in A2k3 and earlier, it is not long enough to view the entire path to the linking field.Out of possibly 4 choices it is pot luck to choose the right link on each import.

  15. Mark Costa says:

    Feature # 1:  The ability to create and store merge letters within Access using the new RTF memo fields.  Text editing on par with MS Works WordProcessor.exe would be sufficient for 98% of all merge document needs.  Users simply don’t like setting up Access/Word merge documents from either direction.  LOTUS Approach used to have a "report type" that allowed you to merge fields from a query directly into a report with some limited text editing features.  This should have been in Access years ago!

  16. Mark Costa says:

    A linked table manager that is in a sizable dialog box and that allows the user to group and refresh table links by separate database source.

  17. awrigley says:

    I would like to see the Relationships Window brought up to speed.  The thrust to get power users to design databases has to be backed up with better visual tools for doing data modelling.  I think it should come in line with SQL Server diagrams, where you can edit tables and relationships in one window.  I would, however, keep the feature where the relationship visuallys shows which are the master and child fields (PK and FK).  

    Regarding the SQL Editor, I agree with Knox (January 24th) that the Access SQL editor could be better.  In fact, I have proved it.  Clint has very kindly posted to his blog about my new SQL Editing and Versioning tool:


    Works with Access 2k +, so why wait?

  18. Holzinger says:

    (re: What features do you want in Access 14?

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007 11:38 AM by Knox)

    Can you do graphical support for complex queries, like sub queries?

    Pivot Query as Subquery!

    Much better editor with intellisense for SQL view.

    Much better editor for the zoom tool for a single cell.

    Inline comments in the SQL

    Real folders within folders support for object classification rather than the shortcut approach.


  19. Bergmann says:

    Hi, am I missing something? You are talking about Access 14, but Access 2007 is showing the version number 12. So the next version is 13 or are you planning to skip that number?


  20. Yeah–we are skipping 13. It isn’t my decision :-).