Access 2007 review

£173
Price when reviewed

The new Ribbon user interface doesn’t sit as well here as in other Office apps. As Access isn’t a document-centric application, it’s actually brought compromises. Tabs that you thought would always be there mysteriously disappear and others have all their controls greyed out. The new views, tools, data types and ways of working are generally good, but will mostly benefit users who design new databases from scratch. Adapting existing Access databases to use them could take longer than is economically justified.

To help get started quickly, there are many new templates, which you can customise – if you can understand how they work. For security, they use the horribly terse Access Macro Language, and Microsoft recommends that new projects all use macros instead of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) for the same reason. If you do use VBA, your application will show a security-warning banner and run in reduced-functionality mode until the user accepts the warning. If you digitally sign your code, users only have to accept the warning once rather than every time they open your database.

Sorting and filtering has been improved, mirroring the way it’s done in Excel 2007. There are new views such as the Layout view, which allows you to change the arrangement of fields on the form while still seeing the data. This is good for checking purposes, but more complex editing still requires you to use Design view. A new form type, the Split Form, shows both details of one record and a list of the same records.

Finally, date fields show a drop-down calendar and the designer can pick system colours from a list. Memo fields can store rich text, but access to the formatting controls is problematic unless you dock the form in the main window.

Access 2007 integrates with Windows SharePoint Services 3 (WSS) and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) on many different levels. You can store Access data in SharePoint lists and you can use Access to take SharePoint data offline. Microsoft has clearly retargeted Access down to the level of someone who just needs something more than Excel to store their data – an admission that it isn’t really up to the job for more complex work? See Advanced Office for more.

Details

Software subcategory Office software

Requirements

Processor requirement 500MHz processor

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no

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