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Old 10-28-2012, 11:19   #1
geofri
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Is Microsoft Access a PIA or am I just dumb?

I just don't "get it"...


Excel is so easy and common sense compared to that nightmare!

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Old 10-28-2012, 13:01   #2
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That's because you lack the ability to think in multiple dimensions.

Access is a database, not a spreadsheet. Two different things.

Excel is more one-dimensional, except it gains a little depth linking sheet to sheet.

One might think of Tables in Access as the pseudo equivalent of an Excel sheet.

Access is significantly more powerful than Excel.

I've been programming in it for a living for almost 2 decades.
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Old 10-28-2012, 13:33   #3
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Access is a very handy tool for casual database users.
The "real" database guys I know sneer at Access as "a toy", but for many everyday casual uses it's great.


I've spent the past few hours doing work with Excel that should have done been in Access, but the people for whom I'm working at the moment are responsible for providing a laptop for use in the industrial facility that has been set up and certified for use in that factory, and the IT guys didn't listen when I requested Access.

They're paying for my time, and that part of the work required 5x the hours doing it in Excel...
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Old 10-28-2012, 13:37   #4
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Originally Posted by G29Reload View Post
That's because you lack the ability to think in multiple dimensions.
...
Well that's a little harshly judgmental, isn't it?
Some things about the Access UI are not obvious at first glance..

for example, multiple filter criteria in each column (different fields) being "AND" but two or more criteria in the same field being "OR".

If you understand the SQL rendered by a GUI-generated query you can see it, but for the novice user it isn't so clear.
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Old 10-28-2012, 13:49   #5
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I too have always had a hard time with Access. If there was one thing in computers that I would wish to increase my competency with that program would be at the top of my list.
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Old 10-28-2012, 13:51   #6
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Pick up a copy of Access for Dummies. It will be your best friend.
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Old 10-28-2012, 15:54   #7
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I hate Access. I've used it for a few things, like capturing virtual databases from web forms on a server. But much prefer SPSS or SAS. Typically use Excel for presenting simple flat files to others, and SPSS for managing and analyzing data, and avoiding Access whenever possible.

I'm not good at writing SQL from scratch, but have seen some computer science graduate students do some incredible stuff with Access. I just prefer the SPSS syntax, but also can use SQL to link SPSS to other databases.

Excel has a simplistic beauty for the common person
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Old 10-28-2012, 16:02   #8
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Originally Posted by G29Reload View Post
That's because you lack the ability to think in multiple dimensions.

Access is a database, not a spreadsheet. Two different things.

Excel is more one-dimensional, except it gains a little depth linking sheet to sheet.
????

Excel (and any spreadsheet) is two-dimensional. Even three-dimensional if you are using multiple worksheets.
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Old 10-28-2012, 16:13   #9
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Well that's a little harshly judgmental, isn't it?
Some things about the Access UI are not obvious at first glance..

for example, multiple filter criteria in each column (different fields) being "AND" but two or more criteria in the same field being "OR".

If you understand the SQL rendered by a GUI-generated query you can see it, but for the novice user it isn't so clear.
I don't mind Access for quick-n-dirty work. The SQL query builder isn't bad, unless you have a lot of tables for anything nested. You just have to simulate nested in code, unless you want the query to either crash or give you incorrect results.

Flip side is if you have MS SQL Server or another "real" database with a good query builder... I haven't worked with MS SQL Server since 2007. Did they ever fix the crappy text importing tools?

As for developing applications in Access, I would rather break my little toe.
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Old 10-28-2012, 16:42   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G29Reload View Post
That's because you lack the ability to think in multiple dimensions.

Access is a database, not a spreadsheet. Two different things.

Excel is more one-dimensional, except it gains a little depth linking sheet to sheet.

One might think of Tables in Access as the pseudo equivalent of an Excel sheet.

Access is significantly more powerful than Excel.

I've been programming in it for a living for almost 2 decades.

Oh yeah? Well you suck at your job!

I'm not talkin power or capabilities.. It is just not [this]user friendly.

To me, it sticks out in the Microsoft suite.. doesn't seem like the same companies product..
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Old 10-29-2012, 06:53   #11
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Access is great for what it is. SQL is not an easy thing.
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Old 10-29-2012, 07:34   #12
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How does Access compare with Foxpro?


Outdoor Hub mobile, the outdoor information engine
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Old 10-29-2012, 07:55   #13
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How does Access compare with Foxpro?


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The same way apples compare to oranges.

Granted, my experience with FoxPro is way more then with access, but...
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:26   #14
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For what it is, it can be good, but it can also be a pain in the ass. Especially when you have non-programmers making it (kind of it's function I think).

I occasionally have to work with it, transitioning it to something new or different and it is a pain. Partially because I don't use it enough. But mostly because the people who originally did it did a lot of stupid stuff in regards to designing the schema and forms.
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:36   #15
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How does Access compare with Foxpro?
Foxpro is far, Far, FAR better for developing applications. There is no comparison.
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:45   #16
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Access is a very handy tool for casual database users.
The "real" database guys I know sneer at Access as "a toy", but for many everyday casual uses it's great.
So, it's like a lot of things, where there's several ways to look at the situation.

For the guys who use Oracle as their database, Access is a toy database hardly fit to catalog their daughter's Barbie accessories.

For the average PC user, Access is a mountain of technical, obscure, and touchy behavior that's about a million times harder than it needs to be for basic database tasks.

The 'reality' is that Access is quite good at what it does, which is small to mid-size database work of all kinds with an experienced person (preferably a paid professional) building/maintaining it, and reasonably well-trained users using it.

It falls apart when you try to stretch it into either a large-scale database for very complex tasks, or building into applications at any real scale, and most especially when you want to use it on a very small-scale, as a home-built db assembled by Joe, who says he knows something about databases.

The learning curve is awfully steep for the "we'll give this a try and learn as we go along" approach, and people who try this with Access usually fail horribly.

Filemaker Pro is actually a very nice minimalist database app that's designed from the ground up for small-business basics, built by amateurs without database experience.
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Old 10-29-2012, 12:50   #17
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For the guys who use Oracle as their database, Access is a toy database hardly fit to catalog their daughter's Barbie accessories.
That's a bit of bravado, actually. I've used it to query 3 million recordsets. Yes it does have a 1 gig file size limit and there are better and faster DB's meant for big iron. You're clearly not going to run WM or the Navy PX system on it. But if you know how to use and some basic DB theory, you can do some incredible things.

You can also link multiple DB's and really get huge with it.

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For the average PC user, Access is a mountain of technical, obscure, and touchy behavior that's about a million times harder than it needs to be for basic database tasks.
It depends what you're up to. Access is really designed to a broad cross section of users. Beginners can get started with wizards.

And serious programmers can connect to big iron back ends with embedded native drives…Oracle, SQL server, etc. A lot more scalable than it used to be.

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The 'reality' is that Access is quite good at what it does, which is small to mid-size database work of all kinds with an experienced person (preferably a paid professional) building/maintaining it, and reasonably well-trained users using it.
Its designed for workgroup sized groups in the multi-user environment, with a max of 7-10 concurrent users per MS. That's about right. More than that and you can have conflicts with recordset locking.

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It falls apart when you try to stretch it into either a large-scale database for very complex tasks, or building into applications at any real scale, and most especially when you want to use it on a very small-scale, as a home-built db assembled by Joe, who says he knows something about databases.
Matter of opinion. You can build a very sophisticated small db and attach to some very large DB back ends.

If you can code in VBA you can really cruise. For bigger projects you really just have to think things thru. Maintenance is also important, repair and compact, etc.

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The learning curve is awfully steep for the "we'll give this a try and learn as we go along" approach, and people who try this with Access usually fail horribly.
Stick with the Wizards and templates and you'll be fine. There's a lot of pre-built stuff in there for the newbs.

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Filemaker Pro is actually a very nice minimalist database app that's designed from the ground up for small-business basics, built by amateurs without database experience.
I played around with a demo of this for a bit, but if I'm not mistaken…its not multi table, correct? Can't set linkages? Pretty much Excel with fancy window dressing? Or did I miss something?
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Old 10-29-2012, 12:53   #18
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Well that's a little harshly judgmental, isn't it?
Some things about the Access UI are not obvious at first glance..
No, its pretty much what it boils down to…linking multiple tables, understanding one-to-many relationships, eliminating repeating groups, stepping outside the left-right up-down of a single table.
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Old 10-29-2012, 12:59   #19
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Oh yeah? Well you suck at your job! .
I do pretty well, actually.

Of course you might be mistaking me for designing Access itself. Which I do NOT do. I build things WITH Access.

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I'm not talkin power or capabilities.. It is just not [this]user friendly.
Newbs ignore the wizards at their peril. Heck that's how I learned to program with it originally, back in the mid 90's.
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Old 10-29-2012, 13:17   #20
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Re: PIA or just dumb

A little from Column A, a little from Column B?


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Old 10-29-2012, 15:53   #21
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Old 10-29-2012, 16:05   #22
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I never did much with it. Didn't realize it was complicated.
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Old 10-29-2012, 16:45   #23
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I used to program and build applications with Access...some fairly sophisticated ones. It paid the bills for a while but my main complaint with Access is that most of the time some company 'guru' has built a haphazard application that I would then be called in to fix and make run right.

I had a huge medical database that was run on Access over Citrix that was in that boat. I was able to revive the patient but it was still mostly comatose and barely ran.

I got lots of high-dungeon from several people when I told them they might as well start over.

Of course this could be the same problem with almost any development system. The problem with Access is that it's so prevalent and to a point, easily used.
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Old 10-29-2012, 19:02   #24
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No, its pretty much what it boils down to…linking multiple tables, understanding one-to-many relationships, eliminating repeating groups, stepping outside the left-right up-down of a single table.
In other words, normalization, which most Access "developers" haven't even heard of, much less try to factor in when designing databases.
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Old 10-29-2012, 19:06   #25
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