Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is Microsoft Access Still Relevant?

With a new wave of online "databases" (which are arguably not fully functional databases, but spreadsheets with fantastic Ajax entry screens), I wondered today whether Access remains as relevant as other office productivity tools.

You might argue that Access has always been an under-utilized asset in most companies, with Excel spreadsheets being stretched to the limits to become Access-like with extensive vlookup and hlookup references. Imagine my surprise to learn that Access actually receives more searches on Google generally (click here for the trend graph source)

Note that the blue line is Access, red is Excel, and orange is (not surprisingly) Word.

Access is probably more relevant than ever, if not a bit outdated in it's delivery method (desktop only). The personal micro-databases that are quick to create, inexpensive, and don't require a computer science degree is vital to many businesses in a difficult economy where hiring consultants isn't an option, and efficiency can help you stay in business. From what I've seen so far, Access 2010 will go a long way in making Access even more relevant as a micro-database for the masses.



Alan Cossey said...

Interesting. I never realised you could do that with Google nor would I have thought that Access would have been of such interest in comparison with Excel.

Mind you there seems to be a clear decline in the interest in Access over the years, doesn't there. I still wonder too about how much interest there is in Access within Microsoft. It was disappointing to hear a while back that support for Access databases had been dropped from Project Huron (synchronisation of databases over the internet), particularly since the Huron team showed how good it could have been in their initial posts and videos. Such support would have been far more useful for me than its interaction with Sharepoint.

Alan Cossey said...

Came across the following site which has some info on Access 2010:

The most interesting points form me were:

• A Create Table Events menu item, though this was disabled in the video which was using a .mdb file. Maybe it has something to do with linked tables to SQL Server or a Sharepoint list.
• The possibility of a calculated field in a Access table?
• An interface to users and permissions. Question: is this just putting back the UI taken away in 2007 for mdb's or is it something for .accdb files. Hope it is the latter.
• Blank Web Database as an option under File/New. Relational or still the very incomplete functionality we've had from Sharepoint so far?
• Some customizability of the ribbon.
• Something about a Data Execution Prevention mode.

Screen shots
• Application Parts
• Import from (and link to) Web Service

The Web Database looks really interesting.

accesspro said...

Good comments Alan...I have to say that the item "Blank Web Database as an option under File/New" is the one that has me excited the most too...