Home > Articles > Data > Access

Utilities for Microsoft Access

  • Print
  • + Share This
Microsoft Access can be a powerful tool for database development and management. But it's not trivial to learn, and if you want more than the built-in functionality it offers, you may need to look around for some assistance. Rick Cook discusses some of the available resources for helping you to get the most out of Access.

Third-Party Access Utilities

Microsoft Access is the junior member of the Microsoft database family. It’s an easy-to-use database system for desktops and workgroups with fairly simple database needs.

Junior status aside, Access is extremely powerful—much more powerful than the standalone microcomputer databases of 15 or 20 years ago. Many Microsoft developers use Access as a prototyping tool for developing applications that will run on SQL Server, Oracle, or other large database management system (DBMS) platforms. In addition, thousands of applications have been written specifically for use in Access.

A number of strengths make Access a good choice for developing database applications in its own right:

  • The report writer is very strong, probably the strongest part of Access.

  • Access can easily accept data from SQL Server or any other large DBMS that has ODBC connectivity—in other words, most of them. These features make Access a good choice as a front end for larger, more sophisticated database systems.

  • With its form-oriented GUI and multiple wizards, Access is designed to make developing a database as easy and painless as possible, even for non-programmers. By contrast, SQL Server is designed from the ground up as a full-bore DBMS, and its design stresses power over ease of use.

  • Access is just about everywhere in the Windows world. As part of the Microsoft Office suite, Access is available on nearly every Windows desktop. Developers who need broad distribution for a database application often choose Access for exactly that reason.

Like Excel, and unlike other Office components such as Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer, Access is commonly used as the basis for utilities and applications. Word and IE are useful right out of the box, but Excel and Access typically need to have applications written for them in order to be useful. Access isn’t as widely popular as Excel as a basis for third-party applications, but many Access-based applications are available.

Like most of the Office applications, Access utilities are available in a wide range of price and professionalism. Many of them, ranging from thoroughly professional products to quick-and-dirty specialized hacks, are free. The ones that aren’t free are generally very reasonably priced, with most costing much less than $100.

One place to start looking for Access goodies is on the Microsoft web site, which offers a wealth of information from tips and templates to technical discussions of Access and its features.

The Limits of Access

Although Access is often thought of as SQL Server’s little brother, Access is not a subset of SQL Server. The products are both SQL-based relational databases, but they’re quite different. Access is built on the Jet engine, which was developed by Microsoft. SQL Server’s engine is based on the Sybase DBMS engine, which Microsoft licensed and then developed significantly in its own direction. Mastery of one DBMS doesn’t ensure success with the other. Access comes with utilities to upgrade an Access database to SQL Server, but you’ll be a lot better off if you start with the right product for your application.

Access lacks some features associated with large database management systems, such as database triggers and stored procedures. Workarounds are available that allow a programmer to simulate some of these features, such as stored procedures, but these workarounds are generally clumsy and inefficient. For example, you can use the Access View object with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to simulate a stored procedure, but only in a limited way.

Features aside, Access is limited in two main areas:

  • Scalability. Access doesn’t handle very large databases easily. Generally speaking, the larger the database, the more carefully the Access application has to be designed.
  • Networking. Although Access is a multiuser database with built-in record locking and other transactional features, it doesn’t work well over a network.

In general, if your application will have more than a few simultaneous users, you’re better off developing it in SQL Server than in Access. While individual Access databases are limited to 2GB maximum, the size of a really useful Access database may be much smaller. Database size limits are difficult to quantify because they depend strongly on both the complexity of the records and the complexity of the queries. As a first approximation, though, if you’re going to have more than 10,000 records or run elaborate queries against the database, consider SQL Server, Oracle, or some other large DBMS.

Like the rest of the Microsoft Office suite, Access uses VBA as a development language. Programmers can create add-in functions using VBA alone or in conjunction with languages such as C++ to create new functions that can be called and used like the built-in functions.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020