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Reports are the primary means by which you print information from your cloud database for use by company personnel and clients. You can certainly format and print in datasheet view directly from a specific form or table, but the best way to print and summarize large sets of data from multiple places in your database is through the use of a visually appealing report.
Reports are the best way to create a printed copy of information that is extracted or calculated from data in your database. Reports have two principal advantages over other methods of printing data. First, reports can compare, summarize, subtotal and total large sets of data. And secondly, reports can be created to produce attractive invoices, purchase orders, mailing labels, presentation materials and other output you need to efficiently conduct business.
When designing a report you are able to group data and present each group separately by defining separate headers and footers for each group. You can also perform complex calculations within a group or across several groups. As with other items in Microsoft Access, you can embed pictures of charts in any section of a report. You can also embed subreports, which are particularly useful for showing related details or totals of the records that make up specific rows of your report.
All of these functions can be set up in the design view of a report, but because reports are primarily used for printing hard copies of your databases essential information the primary view used to work with reports is the print preview view.
Remember that for Access 2013 Web Apps, Reports have to exist in the Microsoft Access client so anyone who wants to view them will need an Access Frontend installed on their computer and connected to Sharepoint 2013. Access 2010 Web Databases offer browser-based reporting features with the powerful hybrid application. All client based reporing works in our RDP hosting environment.
Being able to print attractive reports is an essential component of Microsoft Access and will benefit your company greatly. This way you can provide hard copies of essential information, which has been drawn safely and accurately from your company’s web database. Check back in with Access Hosting for more information on all the Microsoft Access web database software can do for you and your business.
Becoming comfortable with working offline and syncing to an online database with SharePoint later is essential if you often travel or work in areas with intermittent Internet access. Newer versions of Microsoft Access make this transition nearly seamless and help you avoid losing any work. However, there are a few tips that you should know that will allow you to tweak how Microsoft Access works with any website database.
Before you begin using Microsoft Access, you should be aware of two common hazards of working offline. First, if you share a database with coworkers, they may accidentally make conflicting edits when you’re working on a database. When working online, you can recognize these conflicts almost instantly, but you may generate multiple record conflicts when working offline that will create additional work and double-checking. Second, synchronizing with an online database can time out, so you may have to limit the amount of records you edit at one time. The solution to both of these potential issues is to sync offline work with the online database on a regular basis.
Since the 2010 edition, Microsoft Access web database automatically places you in offline mode when the computer is not connected to the Internet. Please note that you’re still restricted to online-use only if you’re using the 2013 Microsoft Access web app. Unfortunately, the offline functionality of Access 2013 Web Apps is non-existent. If you are disconnected, your frontend reports and forms will stop working/rendering. The 2013 Web App acts very similarly to connecting your backend data via ODBC or SQL – if that connection isn’t live, you can’t edit or access the data.
The Microsoft Access web database saves any table changes locally using a jet table. The program indicates offline mode with a status bar at the bottom of the screen. Then when you reconnect to the Internet, Microsoft Access will immediately try to reconnect with SharePoint 2010. If Microsoft Access is successful in connecting with the server, you will see a yellow box that asks if you want to send your changes to the server, close open objects and synchronize with the server. If you want to upload your changes to the server, click on the “Synchronize” button.
If you do not see this prompt, go to the “File” menu and choose the “Reconnect All Tables” option.
If you prefer to work offline, bypass online mode in Microsoft Access by clicking on the “External Data” tab. Select the “Web Linked Lists” group and click the “Work Offline” option.
To resume working online, navigate back to the “Web Linked Lists” group. Then click on the “Work Online” option, which will be exactly where the “Work Offline” option appeared before.
To sync database changes, select the “Synchronize” command in the “Web Linked Lists” group on the “External Data” tab.
To discard database changes, select the “Discard changes” command instead.
Older versions of Microsoft Access do not have the automatic offline mode. Instead, you should specify when you want to work offline on a SharePoint database, and Microsoft Access will use XML caching to save your work. When working in areas with an intermittent Internet connection, consider working in offline mode and regularly syncing your work to avoid losing any data. Another option is to use one of Access Hosting’s Remote Desktop clients to protect your work and automatically backup your files to any cloud-based storage service when online.
To work offline, open the database on SharePoint and click the “Work Offline” option located on the External Data tab.
To resume working online, go back to the “External Data” tab and select the “Work Online” option.
To update the database with your work and see any changes made by coworkers, select the “Synchronize” option on the “External Data” tab.
If you prefer the greater control of the earlier XML caching, you can turn off the caching in the Microsoft Access 2010 and 2013 versions by navigating to “Access Options,” selecting “Current Database” on the left side and unchecking the box next to the option that says, “Use the cache format that is compatible with Microsoft Access 2010 and later.”
A lot of casual Access users don’t realize the immense differences between SharePoint Access 2010 Web Services and Access 2013 Web Apps. Access 2010 Web Services actually has a lot more features and is grander in scope than Access 2013, but it also has it’s limitations (and reporting never fully worked on Office 365 or BPOS) so it was scrapped and completely redesigned as Web Apps for SharePoint/Access 2013. Basically Access 2010 Web Databases are dead in favor of Access 2013 Web Apps. Hopefully this post will help inform you about their differences and help you pick which type of Access Web Database works best for your business.
The Power of Access Services 2010
The awesome thing about SharePoint Access Services 2010 is the way that you can easily build one database entirely in Access and as long as you keep passing the web compatibility checker, you can publish from this one file and have all the power of a hybrid application. All your web forms, client reports, and client forms are all contained in one file that is hosted on Sharepoint. It has built in support for working offline from Sharepoint and resycncing when you connect again online and inherently supports multiple concurrent users. The power of the hybrid access database seems to have been too grand of an idea because it’s complexity is very demanding on SQL reporting services and was never something that worked on Microsoft old Business Productivity Online Standard Suite or the first iteration of Office 365. Whether it was the processing requirements of the Access 2010 hybrid application, Sharepoint list architecture or just the simple fact that they could never get SQL reporting services to work, Microsoft decided to abandon this Web Database design for Access 2013 in favor of the Access 2013 Web App. Access Web Databases
Unlike the 2013 web app which requires you to build an entirely new Access Application, Access 2010 Web Databases let you tweak an existing database to be Sharepoint web compatible so that you can publish them online. This means that if you have an older database with a bunch of useful client forms and reports, you can still get the entire file backed up and working online and while these client forms won’t work in the web browser, users will still be able to sync changes and use them if they open the database in Access. You also have the benefit of being able to supplement your Access database with browser based forms and reports as you build them in your 2010 app. Of course 2010 has it’s downsides as well. It does not allow the use of VBA code and as we’ve stated earlier, Microsoft has abandoned this idea of a hybrid Access application in favor of the easier to host model in 2013.
Technical differences between Access 2010 Web Databases and Access 2013 Web Apps
The big change between these two technologies is the architecture and where the data is stored. Both 2010 web databases and 2013 web apps require SharePoint (although different versions) However, 2010 stores the tables and application in a custom SharePoint list type, while 2013 stores them in SQL Server tables. This change in architecture means that 2010 web databases are completely incompatible with 2013 web apps.
If you create a 2010 web database there is no upgrade path to Access 2013. You cannot convert a 2010 web database to a 2013 web app. You can easily migrate your data (table structure and data) from a 2010 web database to a 2013 web app, but the application (forms, reports, etc) will all have to be rebuilt from scratch. That’s pretty much the problem with Access 2013 web apps to begin with. You have to pretty much start from scratch building all of your forms/reports in Sharepoint 2013.
Both require SharePoint Access Services, but 2010 uses Access Services 2010 while 2013 requires Access Services 2013. These services are very different and incompatible. However, you can have both Access Services 2010 and 2013 running on the same SharePoint site so you can host both access 2010 web databases and 2013 web apps alongside each other. Lucky for you this is exactly what Access Hosting does with its Access Services 2010 and 2013 offering!
Access 2013 Web Apps
So the bad news is that if you’re interested in building an Access 2013 App, you’re pretty much starting from scratch (other than saving your data and tables). You will have to build every new form and query for your 2013 Access Web App. Another setback is that Access 2013 does not allow for any reporting to be conducted in the browser – all reporting requires Access 2013 to be installed on a person’s computer and connected to the SQL table storing your Access Web App via ODBC. Here’s a helpful post about how to connect your web app to an Access 2013 desktop frontend.
If you’re starting a new Access project though, it makes sense to use the most up to date software and if you are an experienced Access Developer there’s a lot of tricks that you can do to use Access 2013 Web Apps to add browser functionality to an already robust app. By creating a client/desktop Access 2013 frontend and connecting via ODBC you can utilize VBA code and other more advanced functionality and while this functionality isn’t available in the browser you at least have the benefit of all being connected and using the same raw data and tables.
If you’re interested in testing Access 2010 Web Databases or Access 2013 Web Apps, Access Hosting offers a free 30 day trial on servers that are running both services. Plans include 10 users and are only $99/month. Additional users and storage can be added to any of these base plans.