Category Archives: Featured

Announcing Excel 2013 Power Business Intelligence Hosting

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Access Hosting is proud to announce our new Excel Power Business Intelligence Hosting for only $99/month.  This new plan combines the flexibility of our Remote Desktop hosting solutions with the power of SQL server hosting.  This powerful solution is possible NOW without the expense of Office 365 or a SharePoint server and allows for substantial business insights through PowerPivot and Power View.

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Power View is an interactive data exploration, visualization, and presentation experience that encourages intuitive ad-hoc reporting. Power View is a powerful feature of Microsoft Excel 2013 that can be utilized in ANY HTML5 compatible web browser with our Power RDP technology.

You can learn more about this product and sign-up for a 30 Day Free Trial of Excel 2013 Hosting here.

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Dedicated SQL 2012 Hosting for Unlimited Access Databases

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We have been getting tons of requests from Access developers and DBAs about SQL Server 2012 (previously known as “Denali”) that need multiple databases and other more robust SQL 2012 options. Today we are pleased to announce the availability of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Web Edition for $199/month.

This is the latest installment of Microsoft’s popular database and it includes a number of improvements over previous versions. New improvements SQL 2012 include AlwaysOn for higher availability, Contained Databases to improve on some of the authentication challenges associated with moving databases and FileTables for those apps that manage unstructured data that lives as files outside of the database.

Of course the big advantage of this plan to Access Developers is the ability to create an unlimited number of tables, databases and SQL user logins so that you can manage multiple clients, databases, projects and Access applications from the same secure cloud-based location.  If you have any further questions, please check out our SQL 2012 webpage and feel free to chat online with a sales representative or contact us via email.

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How Access Services 2013 has changed since 2010 and what that means for Access Developers

One of the most important changes with Access 2013 and their new web apps is in the architecture itself.

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In SharePoint 2010, Access Web Services was storing everything in SharePoint (and then SharePoint’s content was backed up by SQL).  Access 2013 apps are hosted by SharePoint 2013 while the data is stored in SQL Server 2012. SharePoint 2013 provides authentication, authorization, and security for Access 2013 apps. The back-end tables, views, macros, and queries are stored in an SQL Server 2012 database.  This change in architecture reflects a substantial change in the way Access Services works.

You will notice that SQL stores tables, views, macros and queries but there’s no mention about reporting.  That is because Access 2013 Web Apps do not allow you to create traditional Access reports.  The only way to do reporting is by connecting the local Access software program to the SQL tables directly or using some other compatible reporting software tool.

There are a lot of advantages of using Access 2013 with SharePoint 2013, but it is important for Access Developer to note the following:

  1. The idea of the Hybrid Application, SQL reporting services in a browser, and the architecture of Access Web Services 2010 has been completely abandoned by Microsoft.  Access Applications can be either SharePoint 2013 web apps OR traditional local Access Applications.
  2. Any existing SharePoint 2010 web application cannot be moved to SharePoint 2013.  You can preserver your tables, but all of your forms, reports, and queries will be lost in the transition from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013.
  3. Access 2013 introduces a new application type that enables you to create a web-based Access app in SharePoint 2013.  It is easier and more stable than 2010 since it is directly backed by SQL, but there are no built-in reporting services for Access web apps.
  4. Access 2013 and Access 2010 can both publish to SharePoint 2010 and the old Access Web Services 2010.  You must have Access 2013 to publish to SharePoint 2013 and create an Access 2013 web app.
  5. VBA code is not compatible with SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013 Access applications.

Access Hosting is committed to supporting the Access Developer community and will continue to offer SharePoint 2010 Access Web Services hosting for as long as developers are interested.  SharePoint 2013 Access Web apps do have a ton of advantages, and we have launched our brand new Access 2013 SharePoint 2013 hosting packages.  If you are interested in a free trial, please sign-up here.

We don’t just offer SharePoint hosting either.  We have great ways for every Access Developer and Access application to be hosted in the cloud whether it’s through SharePoint, SQL Server or our RDP solution which lets you host any Access 2007, 2010 or 2013 application without ANY modifications.  It supports VBA code too.

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Moving Your Microsoft Access Database to the Cloud

AccessHosting.Com offers a number of different approaches for moving Access 2003, 2007 and 2010 databases off of your desktop or corporate network and onto the web. Moving your Access database to the cloud has wide ranging benefits including increased security, high availability and support for multiple users and devices. This document will describe the pros and cons of each approach and present a series of features to consider based on the individual requirements of your application.

Solution #1: Running Access 2010 against hosted Access Services/SharePoint 2010 Enterprise

Pros: Browser based forms/reports. One version of the application automatically syncs changes to all users. Can develop hybrid applications with a mix of web and client functionality. Mobile Device Support via browser.  Secure Active Directory logon with self-service password management. Multiple backup options available.

Cons: Limited to performance constraints of SP 2010 lists. Conversion to SharePoint compatible format required for existing databases. Existing client based forms and reports must be rewritten for web support.

Solution #2: Running Access 2003, 2007, or 2010 applications in a Remote Desktop.

Pros: Extensive device support via Remote Desktop clients for iPad, iPhone and Mac OSX. No need to modify existing applications or convert database – quickest way to get up and running. Multiple users supported with secure logon and common drive configuration for Front End/Back End deployment. Backup files to any cloud based storage service (Amazon S3 Recommended).  Secure Active Directory logon with self-service password management. Support for Access 2003 applications.

Cons:  users must run Remote Desktop client (no browser based application support). Backup must be performed by the Access administrator or inside the application due to locking scenarios.

Solution #3: Running Access 2007 or 2010 against hosted SQL Server 2012

Pros: Best Scalability and Performance with the power of SQL 2012. Secure Active Directory logon with self-service password management. Multiple backup options available. Upload large amounts of data.

Cons: Cannot sync application changes automatically to front end clients. ACCDB or MDB files must be converted to SQL compatible format.

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Access 2010 and SharePoint 2010 Service Pack 1

We have been busy testing the latest Service Pack for SharePoint 2010 and Access 2010 and will be making this upgrade available to our customers in the near future. In the meantime we thought it would be useful to review some of the SP1 feature enhancements that will impact Access Web Databases.

New Feature: Site Recycle Bin

In SharePoint 2010 it is very easy to accidentally remove your entire site collection. This feature allows a quick and easy restore of the site collection instead of having to revert to a restore of your latest backup file. The backup/restore method was time consuming and required a rollback to the last site backup, this new approach will quickly bring your site back right where you left off before the accidental deletion.

New Feature: Improved Storage Space Allocation

SharePoint 2007 enabled granular management and insight into storage. In 2010 this feature was removed. In Service Pack 1 Microsoft is bringing back an improved StorMan.aspx, enabling users to better understand where their quota is going and act upon that information to reduce the size of their sites. In the case of web databases, this will allow you to see exactly where and how your storage quota is being consumed. The published/compiled size of an Access Database is often several times larger than it looks on the file system, so this new feature will help you visualize what is happening with your site collection storage allocation.

New Feature: Improved Publishing Performance for Client Forms with Embedded Images

This has been a common issue since the release of Access Services – in some cases the publishing process would just grind to halt if there were too many images on a form. Nice to see that it has been corrected.

New Feature: Offical Support for Chrome Browser

Many customers are already using Chrome successfully to render forms and reports inside the browser but it is nice to have Google Chrome offically recognized as a valid client platform for SharePoint 2010 and Access 2010 Web Databases.

Complete list of Office 2010 SP1 fixes

As a final note, Office 365 is currently running on the latest Cumulative Update for SharePoint 2010, not Service Pack 1.

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Demystifying currentwebuser(x)

As many of you know currentwebuser(x) can be used inside your Access Web Database as follows:

0 gives current user’s member ID.
1 gives current user’s display name.
2 gives current user’s login name
3 gives current user’s e-mail address.

The FAQ that we have been getting is “How do I define this information to SharePoint 2010?” or “How can I allow my users to self-maintain their current/preferred email address and use that as a variable inside my Access 2010 Web Application?”

Here is a short video which shows how to do this and how to change your time zone to eliminate the errors that occur when your native time zone is out of sync with the server.

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Preventing Web Users from Opening your Database in Access 2010

This video shows you how to create a new set of SharePoint permissions that will prevent users from opening your web database in Access 2010. The users are able to modify data in web based forms and render web based reports but cannot open the web database in native Access 2010. This is a very important security feature since any user who can open the database in Access 2010 can also make a local copy of the entire web application – in many cases that is not desired behavior.

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Access 2010 New Features: The Trust Center

When you open an Access Database for the first time, you will see a yellow security warning.

Clicking Enable Content will enable the macros and ActiveX controls of the database file.  Access 2010 will remember what Databases and Websites that you enable so this security warning will only displayed when you open a new database.

You can manage this security setting in the Access 2010 Trust Center.  Go to the Backstage View by clicking File  and then click Options. On the Options menu, select Trust Center at the very bottom of the list.

You can click Trust Center Settings to manage all of the trusted documents, components, Macros, ActiveX content, and more.  In this menu you can adjust the security settings of Access 2010 and even clear/erase all of the saved documents that were trusted. By default, Access 2010’s security features and trust settings are very good.  Nonetheless, you and/or your company may have different security preferences that can be adjusted in the Trust Center.

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Introduction to the Microsoft Access 2010 Hybrid Application

This video is much longer than our typical short form tutorial videos but it provides a more comprehensive view of the new Access 2010 Hybrid Web Database architecture. The demonstration walks through the entire process of creating a hybrid application and publishing it to Access Services in SharePoint 2010. The specific features demonstrated include:

  • PowerPoint overview of the Hybrid Application Architecture
  • Convert Native Access Table to Web Table
  • Create Lookup Relationship between 2 Web Tables
  • Check Compatibility
  • Publish Converted Table to Access Services
  • Create a Web Form, Report and Navigation Form
  • Set Startup Form for the Web Client
  • View your published application from the browser
  • Create a Native Form, Report and Navigation Form
  • Set Startup Form for the Native Client
  • Publish a Hybrid Access Application
  • Create a Shortcut to your published Hybrid Application
  • Invoke your Hybrid Application in the Access Runtime

Introducing the Access 2010 Hybrid Application from Access Hosting on Vimeo.

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Demystifying the Access 2010 runtime client

The introduction of web based forms and reports in Access 2010 is a huge step forward for the product, but there are many scenarios which dictate that an application be developed natively in Access 2010. Fortunately, the Access 2010 runtime client provides a mechanism for accomplishing several things at once:

1)      Native Access applications can be created and distributed to end users WITHOUT the need for a full blown copy of Access on the desktop. The Access 2010 runtime is a 175 megabyte download that allows you to distribute your Access application without buying a copy of Access 2010 for each client. This free download can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=57a350cd-5250-4df6-bfd1-6ced700a6715&displaylang=en

2)      You can use accesshosting.com to securely store your tables and the Access runtime client will connect to SharePoint and authenticate the user when invoked.

3)      You can still have web based forms and reports alongside of the native functionality that was setup in the runtime client. This hybrid application approach brings you the best of both worlds (web client objects and native Access code) all running against SQL and SharePoint 2010 for optimal performance and scale. Lightweight users can simply use browser based functionality while power users tap into all the Access 2010 features using the runtime client.

If you have a copy of Access installed but want to see what the client experience looks like from the runtime side of things, just throw a switch on the command line like this:

C:Program FilesMicrosoft OfficeOffice14MSACCESS.EXE” “C:dashboard.accdw” /runtime

This command loads an Access Web Database (see our post on ACCDW files for more detail on that) but invokes the end user experience of the runtime client. Make sure you have setup your native startup form before invoking this command or you may be staring at a blank screen. For more information on setting the startup form check out our tutorial at http://blip.tv/file/4075108

In summary, the runtime client is an inexpensive (free) way to combine the power of native Access 2010 functionality alongside seamless connectivity to Access Services and Web Databases in SharePoint 2010.

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How much SharePoint 2010 storage will my Access application consume ?

We recently had a customer using our Developer Sandbox hosting plan run out of storage space as they published a web application to SharePoint. Further investigation of this problem uncovered a very interesting dilemma for Access Services developers: The size of the application on your local disk is typically much smaller than the size of your web application after it has been published to Access Services.

In this case, a 13 megabyte local Access application was exceeding a 25 megabyte storage quota after being published to SharePoint 2010. This raises the question: how do you tell how much space is your application is consuming on the server? Unfortunately, there is no magical command or menu option that will estimate the application size before publishing – but here are 2 techniques for determining how much storage your application is using AFTER it has been published to SharePoint:

Technique 1: Use the SharePoint 2010 Usage Analysis feature to determine how much space your site is using pre and post publish. The delta between the pre and post publish space consumption would then represent your published application size. The drawbacks to this approach are 1) It assumes that you are the only one adding content to the site collection while publishing your application. 2) SharePoint 2010 usage analysis is not real time and you will need to wait for the statistics to be updated before getting an accurate reading of the space consumed. SharePoint 2010 defaults to a 1X/day update for usage analysis so a 12-24 hour wait is typical. Here is a screencast that show exactly where to find the usage anaylsis information in SharePoint 2010.

Technique 2: If you have control of your SharePoint 2010 Server, you can use Powershell to figure this out:

1. Open PowerShell as administrator
2. If you didn’t open PowerShell via the “SharePoint Management Shell”, then snap-in:
Add-PSSnapIn Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell
3. Type Get-SPSite to show all SharePoint site collections in the farm
4. When he finds the one he wants, type $site = Get-SPSite –Id
5. Now the site in question is stored in a variable called $site. So just type $site.Usage.Storage and hit enter. The total space being consumed is shown down to the byte. If you want MB, then do $site.Usage.Storage / 1024 / 1024.

Hopefully this issue can be addressed in a future release of Access Services.

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