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Ask HN: How many of your clients still use MS Office Access?
7 points by tuyguntn on Feb 9, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments

We have a business unit that gave up on IT writing mobile apps for them.

So they made an Access app with giant buttons that would run on vdi. They figured out how to automate 4-5 key business functions on iPad, which saves them a ton of time in the field.

The brass found out about it, and has spent $400k writing a "proper" replacement, but have been 75% complete for 3 months.

I'm doing QA on a replacement for a VB6 / Access application for a large and slow-moving utility company. Funny thing is that the consultants building the app on the hot, super-awesome BPM platform move at the same pace, and each build includes more bugs and fewer new features to test than the last.

I've been working with several applications that are Access-based in one way or another. Most of these apps are "ancient". Some of my job is to migrate these apps to modern solutions, but a lot of that depends on project budgets.

What are the modern alternatives to Access? Web frontends?

I'm not sure I'd call it "modern" (or not) but typical strategies for getting away from MS Access:

- Move data into any DBMS (e.g. SQL Server, Oracle, IBM, Postgres, etc).

- Get a reporting solution that hooks into the DBMS (SQL Server Reporting Services, Power BI, Domo, Tableau, SAP Crystal Reports, IBM Cognos, et al).

- Reproduce the reports you have in Access in the reporting solution.

These reports CAN be delivered via HTTP/HTML, or even created that way in some cases. But they can also deliver reports in static formats (Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, images, etc).

The power of MS Access is the reports building functionality (and forms which generate reports with bespoke values). You can actually point Access at a DBMS and it still remains a powerful tool.

Most companies won't move away from MS Access in one go. They'll move their data and then later move their reports, and most of the reason to move reports is to better centralise operations (no more Access file on Bob's computer which Sam cannot access) and provide an improved remote access facility.

In my particular case these are really custom applications for data collection and analysis. One wants to be more "mobile first" and another does want to be "web-oriented" to make it easier for users. (Plus, one is VB6 using Access as DBMS and the other is a hodge-podge of Access and Matlab.)

When departments have been abandoned from an IT budget, the most common replacement I've seen has been SharePoint.

Not a bad replacement.

A better replacement in my opinion is Dynamics CRM (biased as I'm a Dynamics CRM consultant) ... speed of development is quick, runs everywhere with just one set of code (web, desktop app, mobile app, mobile web) and if you need to do something outside the standard functionality it's really quick and easy to write a C# plugin or custom workflow activity to do what you want.

Fascinating. I've not before this comment seen someone mention Dynamics CRM as "quick development" (and at one point that included knowing actual Dynamics CRM devs, but that was back before .NET integration and the worst excesses of X++ were still plentiful).

From my perspective across a number of jobs and project clients, SharePoint installations are rare (and often out-of-date and equally often loathed) and I've never actually seen a Dynamics CRM install in the wild. (I know they exist, I've just never seen one/worked with one.)

I admire your use of Dynamics CRM as a hammer for all nail-like objects as a means of job security.

We converted an Access front-end connected to a SQL Server instance and rebuilt the front-end with Rails to have a internal website for data entry and Tableau to automate reports. Highly recommend.

One of my large client is dependent on it with 100 access systems. SQL server is the backend though.

We have a consultant that specializes in the industry and she runs everything off of Access.

A lot of large corporations.

I didn't get you by Ms Access

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