Microsoft Access is a database management system (DBMS) from Microsoft that combines the relational Microsoft Jet Database Engine with a graphical user interface and software-development tools. It is a member of the Microsoft 365 suite of applications, included in the Professional and higher editions or sold separately.
Microsoft Access stores data in its own format based on the Access Jet Database Engine. It can also import or link directly to data stored in other applications and databases.
Software developers, data architects and power users can use Microsoft Access to develop application software. Like other Microsoft Office applications, Access is supported by Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), an object-based programming language that can reference a variety of objects including the legacy DAO (Data Access Objects), ActiveX Data Objects, and many other ActiveX components. Visual objects used in forms and reports expose their methods and properties in the VBA programming environment, and VBA code modules may declare and call Windows operating system operations. It doesn’t have a web version.
Prior to the introduction of Access, Borland (with Paradox and dBase) and Fox (with FoxPro) dominated the desktop database market. Microsoft Access was the first mass-market database program for Windows. With Microsoft’s purchase of FoxPro in 1992 and the incorporation of Fox’s Rushmore query optimization routines into Access, Microsoft Access quickly became the dominant database for Windows—effectively eliminating the competition which failed to transition from the MS-DOS world.
Microsoft’s first attempt to sell a relational database product was during the mid 1980s, when Microsoft obtained the license to sell R:Base. In the late 1980s Microsoft developed its own solution codenamed Omega. It was confirmed in 1988 that a database product for Windows and OS/2 was in development. It was going to include the “EB” Embedded Basic language, which was going to be the language for writing macros in all Microsoft applications, but the unification of macro languages did not happen until the introduction of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). Omega was also expected to provide a front end to the Microsoft SQL Server. The application was very resource-hungry, and there were reports that it was working slowly on the 386 processors that were available at the time. It was scheduled to be released in the 1st quarter of 1990, but in 1989 the development of the product was reset and it was rescheduled to be delivered no sooner than in January 1991. Parts of the project were later used for other Microsoft projects: Cirrus (codename for Access) and Thunder (codename for Visual Basic, where the Embedded Basic engine was used). After Access’s premiere, the Omega project was demonstrated in 1992 to several journalists and included features that were not available in Access.
After the Omega project was scrapped, some of its developers were assigned to the Cirrus project (most were assigned to the team which created Visual Basic). Its goal was to create a competitor for applications like Paradox or dBase that would work on Windows. After Microsoft acquired FoxPro, there were rumors that the Microsoft project might get replaced with it, but the company decided to develop them in parallel. It was assumed that the project would make use of Extensible Storage Engine (Jet Blue) but, in the end, only support for Microsoft Jet Database Engine (Jet Red) was provided. The project used some of the code from both the Omega project and a pre-release version of Visual Basic. In July 1992, betas of Cirrus shipped to developers and the name Access became the official name of the product. “Access” was originally used for an older terminal emulation program from Microsoft. Years after the program was abandoned, they decided to reuse the name here.
Users can create tables, queries, forms and reports, and connect them together with macros. Advanced users can use VBA to write rich solutions with advanced data manipulation and user control. Access also has report creation features that can work with any data source that Access can access.
The original concept of Access was for end users to be able to access data from any source. Other features include: the import and export of data to many formats including Excel, Outlook, ASCII, dBase, Paradox, FoxPro, SQL Server and Oracle. It also has the ability to link to data in its existing location and use it for viewing, querying, editing, and reporting. This allows the existing data to change while ensuring that Access uses the latest data. It can perform heterogeneous joins between data sets stored across different platforms. Access is often used by people downloading data from enterprise level databases for manipulation, analysis, and reporting locally.
There is also the Jet Database format (MDB or ACCDB in Access 2007) which can contain the application and data in one file. This makes it very convenient to distribute the entire application to another user, who can run it in disconnected environments.
One of the benefits of Access from a programmer’s perspective is its relative compatibility with SQL (structured query language)—queries can be viewed graphically or edited as SQL statements, and SQL statements can be used directly in Macros and VBA Modules to manipulate Access tables. Users can mix and use both VBA and “Macros” for programming forms and logic and offers object-oriented possibilities. VBA can also be included in queries.
Microsoft Access offers parameterized queries. These queries and Access tables can be referenced from other programs like VB6 and .NET through DAO or ADO. From Microsoft Access, VBA can reference parameterized stored procedures via ADO.
The desktop editions of Microsoft SQL Server can be used with Access as an alternative to the Jet Database Engine. This support started with MSDE (Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine), a scaled down version of Microsoft SQL Server 2000, and continues with the SQL Server Express versions of SQL Server 2005 and 2008.
Microsoft Access is a file server-based database. Unlike client–server relational database management systems (RDBMS), Microsoft Access does not implement database triggers, stored procedures, or transaction logging. Access 2010 includes table-level triggers and stored procedures built into the ACE data engine. Thus a Client-server database system is not a requirement for using stored procedures or table triggers with Access 2010. Tables, queries, forms, reports and macros can now be developed specifically for web based applications in Access 2010. Integration with Microsoft SharePoint 2010 is also highly improved.
The 2013 edition of Microsoft Access introduced a mostly flat design and the ability to install apps from the Office Store, but it did not introduce new features. The theme was partially updated again for 2016, but no dark theme was created for Access.
ASP.NET web forms can query a Microsoft Access database, retrieve records and display them on the browser.
SharePoint Server 2010 via Access Services allows for Access 2010 databases to be published to SharePoint, thus enabling multiple users to interact with the database application from any standards-compliant Web browser. Access Web databases published to SharePoint Server can use standard objects such as tables, queries, forms, macros, and reports. Access Services stores those objects in SharePoint.
Access 2013 offers the ability to publish Access web solutions on SharePoint 2013. Rather than using SharePoint lists as its data source, Access 2013 uses an actual SQL Server database hosted by SharePoint or SQL Azure. This offers a true relational database with referential integrity, scalability, maintainability, and extensibility compared to the SharePoint views Access 2010 used. The macro language is enhanced to support more sophisticated programming logic and database level automation.
The above is a brief about Microsoft Access. Watch this space for more updates on the latest trends in Technology.