Access is the market leader in desktop databases. It is a rapid application design (RAD) tool that has a rich set of features and uses a powerful database engine.
Access applications can be written using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), the same programming language that Microsoft Office uses, including Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook. A solution written in Access can easily integrate with these other tools. It is easy to create Excel spreadsheets using data held by Access, to generate mail merges using Word templates, and to send e-mail messages from the database.
It comes with a powerful report writer - getting information out if your database is generally the main requirement for building it in the first place.
Access stores information using the Jet database engine. It uses a file server model of computing where all logic is with the client application.
It is suitable for up to about ten concurrent users and has a maximum data capacity of 1GB. Beyond this, a Relational Database Management System such as SQL Server should be used for storing data. More information...
An alternate to the traditional Access file is the Access Data Project. This is a true client to SQL Server and does not use the Jet database engine.
An Access application has many advantages:
- It is the fastest development tool in the market. It is unbeatable for prototyping relational databases and for ad-hoc analysis of large amounts of data.
- It has a powerful query engine and report writer.
- It is backed by a very large, successful business :-)
- Most organisations use Microsoft Office: an indispensable tool. Excel, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Access allow you to create applications using the same computer language - Visual Basic for Applications. The possibilities are endless.
- Applications can hook into data held by SQL Server and other RDMS such as Oracle and Informix.
- The front-end can be packaged and distributed using the runtime version of Access: there are no licensing fees.
Microsoft SQL Server
SQL Server is a Relational Database Management System that is capable of handling large amounts of data and many concurrent users while preserving data integrity and providing many advanced administration and data distribution capabilities.
When a client application requests data, SQL Server ensures that the client has permissions to do so, then decides how to retrieve or update the data. It can rollback transactions - if you are half way through entering a new record and there is a power cut, SQL server will not commit the half finished record to the database.
For more information see the Microsoft SQL Server site.
Advantages of an Access/SQL Sever application include:
- It lets you develop open systems: databases that share data with other applications.
- You can embed business rules and security in the database to restrict who can see/do what. This is regardless of the application that uses the data. For optimum performance and security, I always implement database access through stored procedures.
The .net framework is Microsoft's platform for XML web services, aimed at connecting and integrating information from many sources.
ASP.NET stands for Active Server Pages .net and is the latest generation of the older Active Server Pages technology. It lets developers create feature rich applications using a standard web browser for the user interface.
The biggest advantage for applications written in ASP.NET is that the users do not require any software installed on their PC. For larger organizations, deploying client software, and providing upgrades, is a major headache. This is especially true where users roam the organization and log onto different PC's.
We develop ASP.NET applications using Visual Basic.NET. This the latest and fully object orientated version of Visual Basic. [more]