Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why I STILL Love Access

Here's to Access, My BFF

Access has been very, very good to me. For at least the last 10 or 12 years, it's paid my rent, contributed to my daughter's college education and helped me put on a few pounds too many at the dinner table. And that's just the monetary side of things. There's also the on-going personal satisfaction of facing a new challenge from a client, or from a poster on Utter Access and finding that you really CAN do most things with Access.

 I Know Who's on First, but Who's on Next?

The most recent challenge was an automated way to schedule soldiers into a rotating duty schedule based on both the last previous date on which they were assigned that duty AND whether the next scheduled person was going to available on the assignment date.

For example, let's say that Soldier A was last scheduled for duty on July 1st, and he has scheduled leave for July 24th through the 30th. So, if the next scheduled date for Soldier A happened to fall within that week, he had to be skipped over for that period, but then returned to rotation, beginning on July 31st.  And, the requirement called for that to happen without manual entry by the user.

Suffice it to say that the procedure I came up with to handle that requirement was not simple to derive. The final solution I suggested to the poster was a mix of SQL and VBA--all based, of course, on properly normalized tables. I think my proposed solution should work well, and it ought to be flexible enough to handle most of the complications I could think of in the few hours I took to work on it. I hope the poster gets some value from the demo I uploaded, but as is often the case, I might not hear back from the poster, so I won't necessarily know.

Still, it's worth it to be able say to myself yet again, "Yeah, you can do THAT with Access."

Tablets, Smart Phones and Web Browsers, Oh My

Every once in a while, I get a bit anxious about the future, though. It's probably not news to any of you that we have Smart Phones, Tablet Computers, and Internet Browsers in the hands of a whole new generation of users, both personal and business users. I look out there and wonder whether Access, as good as it is on the client side, has a story to tell those users who take mobile computing for granted.

Nothing official regarding Access has yet come out of Redmond, but we all know that Windows 8 -- the next generation operating system -- is on the near horizon. And Surface, the next tablet computer from MS has already been publicly introduced.

Therefore, I'm willing to bet that the next version of Office, including my BFF, Access, can't be far behind. Whatever that next version brings, I'm also betting the next 10 years of my career on Access "vNext" making it possible for me to go on saying, "Yeah, of course, you can do THAT with Access."