Microsoft Access 2010 review

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Price when reviewed

In 2007, all the attention was on the new Ribbon user interface, which for good or bad almost every Office application was forced to adopt. In 2010 there’s a different focus, but in the case of Access it hasn’t been on making things easier for users and developers.

If it had been, we might have expected Microsoft to have made moving from 2007 to 2010 easier, but that’s far from the case. The principal hurdle is that Access 2010 has become even more inextricably entangled with SharePoint than before. To create a database accessible from the web, you require access to a SharePoint site configured with Access Services, and control over what web users can see is managed by SharePoint too.

Database objects, meanwhile (forms, queries and the like), exist in two flavours: as client objects or as web objects, with many client features not supported by the other web equivalent. With no SQL view of queries, either, converting an existing Access database is likely to take a lot of work.

Fortunately, Access 2010 isn’t bereft of useful upgrades, and one of the biggest is a change to the way in which macros are created, with the new Macro Designer boasting more scope than its predecessor. You can build macros as before, but critically a new type is introduced here, called a “data macro”.

Microsoft Access 2010 - Macro Designer

These are the functional equivalents of the “triggers” that have been available in enterprise database management systems such as SQL Server for years, and also in rival FileMaker Pro 11. Data macros can act before or after certain actions, and you get five variants – BeforeChange, BeforeDelete, AfterInsert, AfterUpdate and AfterDelete.

Access has always been excellent at importing data from other sources, and this ability has been enhanced in 2010. Many people combine their own data with web data to create mashups: a Virtual Earth map showing a company’s outlets, for instance. A web service can now be used as an external data source and, once a web service definition file is installed, you can link to its data as a linked table. Data from SharePoint 2010 Business Connectivity Services can be handled the same way.

Details

Software subcategory Office software

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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