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Access 2013 introduced a new way to make a database available in the browser, called the Access Web App. This first article focuses the general features and points for consideration when developing your Access database.
With the release of Access 2013, you can create now create two different types of database applications, the first is the traditional desktop database. This has traditionally been called an Access database and consists of one or more files stored on your computer, network, or remote server with Access or the Access runtime installed so that you can open and operate these databases.
The second type of database application you can create is called a 2013 web app (not to be confused with the Sharepoint 2010 Web Database). These Web Apps can only reside within Sharepoint 2013 Enterprise or newer. They are not created and do not reside on your local computer.
A web app is cleverly designed so that everything is hosted on Access Hosting’s private cloud, so while you are using a desktop copy of Access to work on changing your design, all the changes you make once saved are automatically saved up to our Sharepoint solution. This means that there is no publishing process, but it also means that you can’t easily undo your changes (or mistakes). Keeping a backup of your own work is very important, but Access Hosting also backs up your entire site collection (not just the web app) every night so we can restore your entire site from a major blunder.
Your web app can be placed in your personal folder in Office 365, or created in a Team Site/Subsite. Team Site/Subsites allow for you to both collaborate with other licensed users and what are known as external users. An external user is someone with a FREE Microsoft Online account (easily obtained), and you are allowed between 500/10,000 external users depending on your subscription.
Access Web Apps run in your browser. This is where most of your users will interact with your application. Web Apps do not have the same robust design features as traditional desktop based applications. When designing a web app you will find yourself switching between your installed copy of Access on your desktop computer and the runtime browser window. You’ll have to have Access installed on your computer to make changes and design the Sharepoint Web App, but will often want to reload your browser to see your changes take effect and to visualize the end user experience.
The MS Access interface used to design web apps is very different than the traditional design tool so you will need to spend some time getting used to the new interface. It is relatively simple and offers standard form views and formats to get an Access web app up and running quickly in Sharepoint.
When designing an Access Web App, it helps to forget everything you already know about designing a traditional ms access desktop database application.
Web Apps do not have the customization options and power of a traditional access application (if you have a powerful Access application developed for the desktop, you can look at our Remote Desktop hosting which lets you leave your robust database application or custom software as-is while you move it to our private cloud). Don’t worry though, your ms access database still stores data in tables. In an Access web app, you can easily jump from table to table using the navigation included on the left pane of the browser. Tables can be re-ordered, hidden, have the captions changed and a graphical icon changed. This acts as the primary method of navigating between parts of your application.
You relate your tables together using a lookup. For those familiar with desktop databases then think of a web app lookup as a combination of desktop lookups and table relationships. There is no place in the web app to view all the lookups together, these are managed individually as part of the table design process.
Once tables are linked by lookups, Access will automatically create views of the data which link the data together using the lookups. For example in an order processing system, an order will have a lookup to a list of products in that order. Access will then automatically create a view including a list of related orders for each product.
If you don’t use lookups, then you will miss out Access saving you time by the process creating views of your data automatically. Once you have these different views of your data, you will find that some of them are exceptionally useful for viewing data from a different perspective. If you find something that you don’t like, you can remove it that view from the web app.
When you select a table, then on the top right of the main screen area next to the table selector is the View Selector for the chosen table. Microsoft Access will automatically create a List (Details) View and Datasheet View (Big Excel Sheet). You can then add to, remove, re-order, re-title and change the views.
The default List View comes with a built in search bar feature. By default, your web app will search every field for whatever you type in. Once again, Access does all the hard work for you.
A web app only supports one kind of primary key which is an auto-incrementing number (this is similar to the Autonumber data type found in a traditional desktop database and the Access Web Services 2010 primary key restrictions). The key field will automatically be named ID, but you can rename it.
Access has great features for importing data, but you should note that upgrading a database to a Web App is very much starting from scratch; You can import your data into your web app, but you will have to design all your views, reports, forms, and other functionality from scratch (mainly because web apps can’t do everything that a desktop database can). Before you try an import an existing desktop database, make sure that you change your desktop database so that every table has an autonumber primary key, and every foreign key is a long integer. If you don’t do this then you will run into problems.
Certain legacy data types are not supported, and those fields will not be imported. OLE Objects and Attachments are not supported. Instead there is a new Image data type which supports .gif, .jfif, .jpe, .jpeg, .jpg, or .png formats (notice that the bmp format is not supported).
If you have data in Attachments or OLE Objects, then these will need to be extracted and held outside the database in separate files, the exception is for supported image formats in
The web app data is held in a SQL database on Access Hosting’s servers, these are automatically managed as part of your Subscription and hosting plan. You can create as many web apps as you like with our plan and are only restricted by storage (which can be upgraded at any time).
To program a web app you use macros (VBA is not supported!). There are two different kinds of macros. User Interface macros manage how a user interacts with you application interface. Data macros are used to perform operations on your data.
While Access Web Apps DO NOT support VBA programming or provide a browser based reporting capability, you can use the Access Desktop application to link to your data online to perform more complicated actions. You can quickly and easily connect to your Access Hosting Web App to create reports and more. Check out this tutorial and video on how to use this feature.
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.
Tables are the basic building blocks of any database. They are defined by a collection of rows and columns that separate the data into individual fields. When you open Microsoft Access for the first time it will give you a blank desktop and will automatically open a dummy table. The dummy table is simply a blank datasheet that will serve as the foundation for any database you will create.
After values of a few key fields are entered, you should be ready to begin to input data as short text or number values and create a basic datasheet.
When working in Microsoft Access there are three views from which to manipulate the information in the tables that make up your database: form view, layout view, and design view. To change views simply click on the view command in the ribbon and select your view from the drop down menu.
Form view is ideal for entering or updating information, while layout view will give you a clear overview of all the information currently entered in the table. Design view is slightly more advanced, and will allow you to restrict the data in certain fields by adjusting the properties and datatype or renaming a field.
Designing your own table from scratch may be helpful in certain situations, but don’t forget to check out the pre-loaded table templates that the Access software provides to help save valuable time and gain a better understanding of how to build your own tables with design view.
To begin creating a new table the first step is to change the field names. In design view and you can define the parameters of the table by labeling specific fields with a name and matching them with the appropriate datatype from the dropdown menu on the right. There are many different choices for datatype but most likely it will either be a number, which appears as a long integer, or short text.
You may also notice that an ID field is automatically entered to correspond with each entry. This is a number that is automatically given to each specific field to stand as its unique identifier.
Although it is an option, you should never remove the ID field. The specific identifiers may never be seen by users interacting with your database but they are essential when building more complex relationships between databases.
Take notice of the primary key command in the top left of the ribbon. Be sure that the primary key is set to the ID field so that each field can be independently identified and always unique.
Since it’s inception, Microsoft Access has been the go-to database for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Not surprisingly, as Access’s features and cloud capability have rapidly expanded over the years, so too have the different ways the technology is used. Here are a few of our favorites:
There are few things more valuable to a business than properly onboarding and training new employees. While for most companies the ROI on hiring and app developer for a training application wouldn’t be high enough to justify the cost, building them in house is an appealing option. And as the company’s hiring scales, moving the backend of the app to a server like Microsoft SQL Server will be a low-cost way to scale your training app with it.
For many small businesses, CRMs like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics are either too expensive or too cumbersome to implement. However, having accurate, up-to-date customer and prospect information is crucial to running client-facing departments . As an MS Access user, it’s more than likely that much of this data already exists there. By standardizing this information and creating relational tables for objects like leads and deals, you too can have a CRM without the cost and learning curve.
While we’re on the subject of prospects and customers, many of them will want to access some of the data that you store in your web database – for example, recent invoices or the date of their next appointment. You can easily deliver this data easily by offering them a form they can fill out on your site. ASP.NET forms can query a Microsoft Access online database directly, so by implementing them on your site, you can surface this data to your customers with limited effort from your developers.
If you’re like many, you’re using an endless string of VLOOKUPs in Excel to report on related data from different tables or sources. This is really a job for Microsoft Access’ relational tables. Built on top of Microsoft’s Jet Database Engine, you can use these powerful tools to easily create queries that quite literally fly.
If you’re in software development, one common practice you’re likely familiar with is creating waterfall models to manage the progress of an application. Since you may be creating an application that leverages Access or SQL Servers as your backend, why not keep track of your app’s progress there as well?
These are just a few of many ideas for uses for MS Access – the beauty of the software is that it’s uses are really only limited to the imagination<.
The database market is divided among four major players: MS Access, Oracle, SQL Server and MySQL. Due to accessibility and focus on user interface, MS Access has garnered some negative press as being unsuitable for professional level database development. However, depending on the needs of the organization, there are many compelling reasons to choose MS Access as your business database software.
MS Access is bundled with the MS Office suite, making it the most widely available desktop database program in the world. This also makes it one of the most affordable options for businesses, which tend to purchase businesses licenses of MS Office. The common interface among all the MS Office programs makes it easy to import and move data to and from the database without having to resort to specialized software. Due to the popularity of the product, support for MS Access is also very good, with plenty of online tutorials and articles available, in addition to Microsoft’s excellent customer service.
One of the main benefits of MS Access is its ease of use. Even users new to database development can pick up the basics quite easily, as everything is presented in an intuitive manner. Much of the user interface in MS Access is designed to assist users with creating and editing tables, and there are many templates available to ensure that the database meets organizational needs. MS Access also provides options for importing data from other databases, and provides troubleshooting tips for every step of the way.
Despite this focus on ease of use, MS Access users have access to powerful SQL tools that allow for rapid development. MS Access is also .NET friendly, meaning that developers wanting finer control of software development can take advantage of the ease of use and functionality of MS Access.
Due to the widespread popularity of MS Access, there are many third-party plugins and developmental tools that are available. This means that MS Access is far more flexible than other databases, making it easier to customize and adapt to the changing needs of your business. In addition, there are many more external consultants well-versed in MS Access, and they are generally more affordable than consultants for Oracle and SQL Server.
MS Access is an excellent database choice if your organization requires a database that is easy to use and that has established, reputable support structures. MS Access is powerful enough to meet the demands of most small to medium businesses.
Best of all you can utilize Access Hosting superior hosting infrastructure to further bolster your Access Database and get it in the cloud easily and securely. All of our services offer a free 30 day trial so that you can easily test everything with Microsoft Access to make sure that it meets your needs.
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.
Access Hosting is proud to announce that for 2015 we have increased the storage quotas on all of our Remote Desktop Hosting plans for customers seeking an easy way to move their Access Hosting Database to the web without any modifications.
Access Hosting, the leading hosting company for Microsoft Access services and solutions has doubled and tripled the storage on their Access Remote Desktop plans. Customers in need of bringing their Microsoft Access web application to the cloud can now do so without the need for expensive hardware or costly setup.
Interested customers will now enjoy 2GB of storage with the $29/month Access Pro Virtual Desktop and 3GB of storage with the $49/month Office Pro Plus Remote Desktop plan. Anyone interested in trying out this hosting service can sign up for a free 30 day trial at http://accesshosting.com/remote-desktop-hosting/free-trial
Remote Desktop Services allows you to keep your Access 2007, 2010, or 2013 Database running “as-is” online in the cloud. Using the latest advances in Microsoft Hypervisor technology we can create a seamless single click operating environment for your existing Access database that allows you to run your application without modification. This approach allows multiple users to connect concurrently to the cloud from any PC and experience the program as if it was running locally on their desktop. Pricing starts at just $19/month and we offer a free trial for qualified customers. You can learn more at http://accesshosting.com/remote-desktop-hosting/
Here’s a video demonstrating how to add new created Active Directory users (that paid hosting plan customers can request via our helpdesk) to your SharePoint 2013 and Access Services 2013 database.
We are happy to report that our Remote Desktop hosting can be configured to connect to Office 365 to use Access to report on your Access 2013 web apps. Our Remote Desktop hosting allows you to use the power of Office 365 as your backend and then you can use our HTML5 PowerRDP technology to get around Office 365’s inability to render Access 2013 reports in the web browser. This is a great way to get more out of your Office 365 subscription with MS Access 2013. If you already have a $29/month Access 2013 Pro or Office Pro plan, you should be able to follow the quick tutorial below to start building web reports for Access 2013 web apps.
Step 1: Open your Access Web App in MS Access 2013
Login to Office 365 and Navigate to your Access Web App. Click the customize in Access button to download the Access 2013 .accdw file and open it in Access 2013.
Step 2: Report on your Access Data
Navigate to the Info tab of your Access 2013 web app file (accdw) and select the “Report on my Data” button to create an Access frontend that can report on your Office 365 / SharePoint 2013 backend.
Step 3: Create Reports in your Access Frontend
Now that you are using linked tables to connect to Office 365 and your SharePoint 2013 Access Web App, you can take advantage of all the features of the full version of the Access 2013 desktop client. Create and design your reports, forms and queries. Remember to close and save all reports and save your Access frontend file on the Remote Desktop.
Step 4: Reporting now works on Office 365
Now your reports are connected to Office 365 and accessible from any machine, tablet, device and web browser via our Remote Desktop hosting!
We are happy to announce that we are once again offering SharePoint 2010 Access Web Database hosting plans. This new plan has a 30 day free trial and is $99/month. It includes 10 users and 2 GB of storage space, unlimited databases, unlimited bandwidth and allows you to combine Web Forms and Web Reports with your existing clientside Access DB functionality for a true powerful hybrid application. These SharePoint hosting plans are completely scalable. Additional storage and users can be added to this plan at any time for additional fees. We plan to continue to offer service to Access 2010 web publishing on SharePoint 2010 and 2013 for as long as Microsoft supports and allows us to license this product.
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.
One of the most important changes with Access 2013 and their new web apps is in the architecture itself.
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:
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.
Since SharePoint 2010 with Access Services has been released, we have gotten requests from customers looking to prevent users from opening their Access application. Many developers want the only user experience to be the browser based version of their application and our video tutorial hack is too limiting and simply not good enough. Well, as you can see from the picture above, we have finally figured out a way to remove the Options Menu (and subsequently the Open in Access option) from any Access Web Database. This customization has been widely requested and is yet another feature that Office 365 does not offer. Unfortunately because of how SharePoint 2010 was designed and coded, this customization requires that we alter SharePoint master pages and is therefore only available with a virtual private server. If you are interested in this feature, it is now available with any of our SharePoint Virtual Appliances which are only $499 and include 10 users and 5GB of storage space.
You can download Microsoft’s SQL Server Migration Assistant to help you easily move your Access database to our SQL 2012 backend hosting environment. SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) v5.2 is freely available. SSMA simplifies database migration process from Oracle/Sybase/MySQL and Microsoft Access to SQL Server and SQL Azure. SSMA automates all aspects of migration including migration assessment analysis, schema and SQL statement conversion, data migration as well as migration testing to reduce cost and reduce risk of your database migration project. It’s a free download from Microsoft that can be found here:
SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) is a free supported tool from Microsoft that simplifies database migration process from Access to SQL Server. SSMA for Access automates conversion of Microsoft Access database objects to SQL Server database objects, loads the objects into SQL Server, and then migrates data from Microsoft Access to SQL Server.
SSMA for Access v5.2 is designed to support migration from Microsoft Access 97 and higher to all editions of SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2012, and SQL Azure.
This video introduces you to our Remote Desktop Hosting service. It shows you how easy it is to get started using RDP hosting with our free trial and how to easily copy/paste your local Access database up into the cloud.