The race to build affordable cars


I’m from a family of six. At one point, my parents had 5 kids living at home going to college. Money was tight and everyone needed to drive a car to work and school (we lived in the sticks). My dad bought a fleet of Chevy Sprints and kept us all in wheels. When one broke he cycled in a spare. There was always a spare motor getting overhauled on the garage floor. The beauty of the cars was how easy they were to repair. There wasn’t much to go wrong and when it did–parts were cheap. 


Business Week recently ran an article about the race to build affordable cars. The article talks about the new thing in cars are sturdy and inexpensive and not made in the US. There is a growing market for something more than a motorcycle yet less than today’s compact cars. The idea isn’t a new idea–the Yugo was probably ahead of its time while suffering from poor quality. I would be surprised if in the auto industries future less doesn’t equal more. The article discusses how in the US the low cost cars business is very small but there are huge growth opportunities in India, China, and emerging economic developing countries.


 http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_17/b4031064.htm?chan=search


Access is similar to the affordable car race–there isn’t a more affordable platform for building data-centric business applications. One of the key characteristics of Access applications is that they are affordable, easy to maintain, and easy to change. The organic, affordable nature of Access applications speaks to the heart of why the platform is so popular.


 

Comments (11)

  1. Stuart says:

    Hello Clint,

    In my opinion Access 2007 is too much buggy in order to develop applications…

    Moreover it uses too much memory for being reliable.

    Perhaps the only good version of  Access was the release 97

    Bye

  2. grovelli says:

    I have yet to start using 2007 but definitely Access 2003 is far superior to 97 in all respects.

  3. Thanks Grovelli.

    Stuart–if you have specific issues, send them my way and I will make sure the test team can take a look. The team is working on SP 1 fixes over the next couple months so now is good time to send us your feedback.

    Also, I’m interested to see some specifics on memory usage and your scenario. My tests of Access 2007 verses 2003 working set memory found Access 2007 is really close 2003 (I thought I remember it being lower).

  4. AL says:

    I don’t really agree.  I think Access is closer to a high-end car, with all the optional bells and whistles available for those who want them.

    .NET is just the chassis and parts sold separately.  

    Access actually has a ton of hidden dependencies that make it difficult to add generic (i.e COM or .NET or ActiveX) parts.  If you don’t use the Access-brand parts, you’re on your own — you have to be an expert, using low-level hacks and API calls to achieve your goals.

    ——-

    However, Access has enormous potential.  If the current Access team would just slow down and focus 100% on addressing current DEVELOPER issues, bugs and suggested tweaks, it could become the best database development environment that ever existed.  We really don’t NEED any new features or fancy user interfaces.  We just need the current issues addressed.  That’s my hope for Access 14, which I hope will have an early release.

  5. AL – I think we are saying similar things. Take your pick of cars analogies Call it the racy sports car because of the RAD development environment that allows developers to build applications from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds or the affordable environmentally friendly car that gets 50 mile per gallon because how cheap it is to build and maintain the application. Hey, you can even call it the car that doesn’t exist—the sports car that is lighting fast and runs forever on a litter/gallon. My main point is—the types of applications people typically build with Access are affordable departmental applications. Nobody would think to use Access to build the next Web 2.0 social networking mashup site.  Yet if you need a workgroup application to track check-in/check-out of tools, there isn’t a better platform.

  6. Stuart says:

    Hello Clint,

    The worse problems, IMHO, regard crash of Reports and shortcuts menu that doesn’t work in SubForms:

    http://allenbrowne.com/Access2007.html

    and

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/935370/en-us

    This is a mega-bug of win Vista, but it affects JET/ACE.

    Memory usage:  I’ve tested an Access 2007 AccDB with a lot of graphic skins … if I remove them, the working set is similar to Access 2003: ok.

    However, every new Access version is graphically too much heavy  (Ribbons!)

    Grovelli:

    I like Access, very very much … but … IMHO new versions have too many problems.

    Not only for developers, also for final customers.

    JET 4.0 had need 8 S.Packs to fix problems!

    The MS Access Runtime package doesn’t works, and we must buy SageKey scripts for deployment…

    Service Packs for Access fix only a few problems (Access 2003 SP2, as an example, doesn’t fix this unacceptable issue:  http://allenbrowne.com/ser-46.html)

    MS Office (and MS Access) should be a *Mission critical* software, and not a game for Playstation!    😉

    Bye

  7. grovelli says:

    Stuart, from the link you posted.

    "In Access 2003, simply moving the mouse over the pages of a tab control CAN MAKE the screen flicker annoyingly if Windows XP themes are active"

    CAN MAKE doesn’t mean that it does; in fact I’ve been using Access 2003 on WinXP themes on many pc’s and not once have I seen the screen flicker while moving the mouse over the pages of a tab control and yes, I have unattached labels on the page of the tab control.

    As far as the 2003 runtime is concerned, I’ve used it on many pc’s without any problem and without any SageKey.

    About the Mission Critical software, I share what Clint says and I also consider Access unbeatable for the purpose that MS have defined for it: robust personal productivity with the added advantage of sharing your data with others(and tight integration with the rest of the Office suite, no other product can claim that), Access is NOT a dehumanized number-cruncher that serves hundreds/thousands people; for that you need to turn your attention to SQL Server, .Net, whatever.

    I doubt I’m a lone soul on this one but I like Access getting graphically better with each version, let’s live a little!;-)

    I can’t pronounce on the Ribbon yet but I’m confident it will supersede toolbars without too much hassle.

  8. AL says:

    I think I can get used to ribbons, and I see some advantages over command bar buttons.  However, I would really like to have easily customizable, programmable task panes, and rip-off sections of ribbons, so I can work closer to my controls.  I don’t like to keep mousing up to the top of the screen for all my work.  Perhaps if there was some way to customize the shortcut menus, like in Ac 2003….

    Also, we desperately need a ribbon editor.  Sure, I can write XML manually in VS 2005, but I sure don’t like it.  I don’t see why we should have to wait for 2009 for ribbon and shortcut editors.

    I second and third the comment about mission-critical.  There needs to be a focus on Access as a mission-critical app, which is exactly how it is used in many cases.  Granted you can easily make a crashing disaster in C++ or .NET, but it seems that more effort could be spent on fixing the bugs and annoyances in Access.  I personally think we should be seeing fixes released monthly to address Access issues.  

  9. Stuart says:

    Grovelli:

    "As far as the 2003 runtime is concerned, I’ve used it on many pc’s without any problem and without any SageKey.

    About the Mission Critical software, I share what Clint says and I also consider Access unbeatable for the purpose that MS have defined for it: robust personal productivity with the added advantage of sharing your data with others(and tight integration with the rest of the Office suite, no other product can claim that), Access is NOT a dehumanized number-cruncher that serves hundreds/thousands people; for that you need to turn your attention to SQL Server, .Net, whatever"

    Ms Access Runtime

    The Microsoft package *doesn’t works*: there are a lot of problems with other preinstalled versions of Access/Runtime, MS Graph, etc. etc.

    Mission critical software

    Grovelli … MS Office is a strategic product for Microsoft, not an idiot game for playstation

    MS Office SHOULD BE a *mission critical* software because it’s used by MILLIONS people and isn’t a freeware!

    Excel should be a rock solid software because it’s used by MILLIONS people and isn’t a freeware!

    ACCESS should be a rock solid software because it’s used by MILLIONS people and isn’t a freeware!

    ANY PRODUCT developed by MS should be a rock solid software because Microsoft is the bigger (and richest) Software House in the world…

    OK?

    In the other hand, SQL Server should be a Rock solid software but it isn’t WITHOUT service packs (the first release of SQLSVR 2000 was very buggy).

    Windows Vista should be a rock solid S.O. but it isn’t WITHOUT service packs!

    Grovelli, *mission critical* software DOESN’T EXIST without S.P. !!

    The problem is that Service Packs for Access doesn’t correct a lot of annoying issues … (Frame-flickerings in A ‘2003, SubDatasheets crash in Access XP, filters bugs of JET Engine, etc  etc).

    Where is the American efficiency?

    Bye

  10. Stuart,

    I sense your frustration. Unfortunately, software development in 2007 is still an art form performed by people trying to do their best job. All software vendors ship bugs–that is part of the nature of the industry and artform. We invest millions of dollars attempting to improve our craft through a number of efforts:

    – Libraries of scanning code is written looking for bugs before they are found in the UI.

    – Schedules are slipped when quality isn’t ready.

    – Watson technology identifies most common crashes and help development teams continue to address these issues (from beta into SPs)

    – Teams of people work on service packs dilligently to take make the right decisions and fix the right bugs.

    – Copious time is spent at the end of every cycle reviewing our process.

    – Blogs also are giving us a far deeper connection without customers that wasn’t available before.

    The list goes on… I don’t think it is an American problem so much as ANY software development is hard.

    Every day I go to work I try to do a better job. I personally feel the responsiblity of the decisions I make. I feel terrible when I hear about people wasting time because of a bug I choose not to fix. It is nearly impossible to fix every issue because ever fix has the potential of causing a new issue.

    The context menu in sub datasheet is a great example. The bug was introduced within the last couple weeks before RTM to fix a different issue. Development and test didn’t have any idea the change would cause this regression. Also, people use our products in so many scenarios–there are some cases where people just didn’t find the issue. When bugs like this slip through we try to fix it in SPs.

    We all strive every day to ship mission critical software. People on the team do their best but software development still is very much an artform.

    BTW – last week we checked in a fix for the flickering unbound labels in tab issue. You should see it fixed in 2003 SP3.

  11. Stuart says:

    Clint, Thank you for your response.

    Bye

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