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The Microsoft Access Relational Database has been around for a while and it is used in many businesses, Information Technology (IT) Teams and organizations.
Microsoft Access is commonly used in building desktop software applications, data analysis programs and corporate databases where the number of records are as few as 2 billion records or the number of users who access the system at any one time are as few as ten concurrent users.
The ease with which Microsoft access database developers create functional relational databases, add data entry forms, build reports and distribute their database projects to multiple users creates a market for skilled Microsoft Access Relational Database developers.
However, Microsoft Access database solutions are not well suited for web, distributed, enterprise or large database development projects leading. Because of this, Microsoft Access database developers have to transition their skills to enterprise database development systems like SQL Server and Oracle at some point in their career!
This series of articles reviews the the merits and demerits of Microsoft Access database development and offers a transition plan or career path for updating Microsoft Access Database Development Skills.
Easy of Use - Microsoft Access is one of the easiest relational database platforms used in business because of it's intuitive graphical user interface (GUI).
Office User - Microsoft Access is also popular with business or power users. It is relatively easy to install, configure and use on a desktop, laptop or home computer which makes it a winner for many.
Low Support Costs - Unlike enterprise databases like Oracle or IBM DB2, Microsoft Access databases do not need dedicated database administrators.
The Microsoft Access developer (you) in this case is also the Microsoft Access Database Administrator unlike enterprise databases where there tends to be a split between the duties of the database administrator and the database developer.
Data Entry Forms - Microsoft Access is a unique database for office environments because it comes with a set of forms for building data entry (entering, editing, deleting, updating) forms.
This feature eliminates the costs and complexity associated with typical software development projects based on Oracle, IBM DB2 and other enterprise databases.
In-Built Reporting Capability - Microsoft Access also incorporates the ability to generate simple or complex, customized reports.
However, the Microsoft Access Reporting feature is not a full fledged reporting tool like Crystal Reports or SQL Server Reporting Services.
The ease or simplicity of designing and building reports in Microsoft Access eliminates some of the complexity or costs associated with building external reports using enterprise reporting tools.
In-Built Application Development Environment - Microsoft Access is a flexible database software that allows you to customize or write full-blown software programs using the popular and easy to learn programming language known as VBA or Visual Basic for Applications.
Many database developers actually use the VBA feature of Microsoft Access to jump start their programming careers by learning VBA and then transitioning to other programming languages like Visual Basic!
Graphical SQL Query Building - Writing SQL is made easy in Microsoft Access because of it's Graphical Query Designer which allows you to join tables and add filters or clauses to them.
You can also see or modify the generated SQL query using a a flavor of SQL known as Access SQL or Microsoft Access's in-built Query Wizards.
Data Analysis Tool - because Microsoft Access allows you to build tables, data entry forms and reports quite easily, it is commonly used as a Data Analysis tool.
Using Microsoft Office Access, you can for example, design a survey, create a table to store the data, build a simple data entry form, build a report and then give multiple users access to your reports or application.
External Database Access - database developers who are unfamiliar with enterprise databases like Oracle or SQL Server access them through a Microsoft Access database
This is partly because the Microsoft Access database developer can connect, query or modify the data in an enterprise database without having to leave the safety and comfort of the familiar Microsoft Access environment!
Multi User Access - Microsoft Office Access supports a limited number of users accessing or modifying it's data at the same time.
It is sometimes seen as a better choice for data analysis projects where multiple users have to update, edit, delete or work with the same information while retaining each individual's ability to rapidly prototype, build or extend it using forms.
As you can see, there are many reasons why the Microsoft Access Database Development tool is common, popular and frequently used in all sorts of database development, reporting, data analysis and software development projects.
To get started, there are many situations that Microsoft Access is not suited for.
Microsoft Access database developers are sometimes not comfortable with enforcing proper database design practices or writing complex subqueries, complex joins within Microsoft Access.
That is why database developers frequently resort to taking strong SQL Query Writing + Database Development Classes (like at the Data Analyst Boot Camp) after first falling in love with Microsoft Access.
Microsoft Access still limits database developers despite it's powerful, and flexible relational database engine.
Hence the need to upgrade or transition to enterprise relational databases.
In the next article, I will discuss both the limitations of Microsoft Access as database development tool and the reasons for upgrading to an enterprise database like SQL Server.
If you are interested in becoming a better database developer by mastering relational database and SQL query writing, you can enroll Online at the DataAnalystBootCamp.Com