What is Microsoft Access?

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by Jason Earls, 17 January 2008    (All versions of Access)

Microsoft Access is a database management system of the relational type, and comes bundled with the Microsoft Office Professional package. Relational in the context of Microsoft Access means that data is stored in columns and rows (two-dimensions) that are related by common fields, so that another table can be easily constructed based on the various relations between the initial columns and rows of data.

Microsoft Access is mainly used by smaller businesses, big corporations, and hobbyist programmers for creating data manipulation applications. Access is compliant with Oracle, SQL Server, or Access/Jet, which are applications commonly used for data storage. But Access is also compatible with other “data containers” as long as they are ODBC-compliant. MS Access is highly compatible with SQL (Structured Query Language), which most programmers find very beneficial. Also Access is good for users because of its Query Design Grid, which allows them to implement queries without having to have a working knowledge of the SQL language.

Programmers use Microsoft Access to create application software, while less skilled developers use it to create simpler applications. Access has ease of use when building applications because of numerous wizards (interactive utilities) that guide a user or developer through the various steps of the creation process using help files and tips, which all serve to locate, organize, and manipulate data. Access is so easy to use in fact that some software developers can quickly build prototype applications for salesmen while they are traveling. Visual BASIC for Applications is the programming language Access uses for development inside of its host environment.

While Access is adequate for smaller projects, it is not ideal for larger scale operations since it is not a genuine client-server database, but only a desktop application.

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