Why Not Access?

In 1995 a longtime client was looking at redoing all the software I had written in Wang Basic with a new App done in Access 2.0. I was suggesting Clarion. Since the descion was made by the controller it was largely based on marketing info about Access and how fantastic it was. I had to find a way to kill the Access project or I would be out. Actually it was pretty easy to find a bunch of evidence. Getting them to believe it was not so easy. Here are some refs to the articles I found and other info and comments.

VBPJ - 9/96 - Publisher's Note - page 5

Publisher Jim Fawcette discusses a contact database program VBPJ decided to redo in Access 95. They wanted to use the replication features and have the sales poeple have it on all their notebooks. His comment is: "Well I'm sorry Access Team but this is the s-l-o-w-e-s-t database I have ever seen. The original database written in 4D and running on a Mac Classic is faster."

Visual Basic Programmers Journal - 9/95 - When Jet Can't Take Off - page 58

This is one of the best articles. A whole page is devoted to major problems with Jet (The Access Database Engine). Will Fastie says Jet only is safe for one user and record counts under 20,000. Richard Finikelstien says 5 users max. There is some discuss that upsizing to SQL server may help. This is a side bar to a larger article "Alternatives to Jet" that suggests that Jet is Big and Slow.

I talked with Finkelstien about this article, here are some of his comments: "Access was designed for the Desktop as a single user solution with a paradigm of simplicity. The upsizing kit was done as a quick patch by MS, it's clunky with lots of limitations."

VBPJ - 1/96 - Centrally manage DAO's in VB 3.0 - page 92

This article discusses a lot of the problems Jet has with database corruption and how to fix them. "Small VB 3 Aapps that were scaled up to critical multiuser systems have been affected by a database corruption problem in MS Access 2.0 Jet database engine. Far too frequently Access 2.0 data files become unreadable by VB programs. The only fix is to remove all users and run the repair operation on the file. Large files can take serveral hours to repair." The article notes a fix but this fix did not work!

PC Magazine - 10/10/95 - Multiuser Accounting Software - pages 285-287, 295, 300-304

This was a pretty indepth study of decent accounting packages. Prices were $3500 to $22000. PC Mag tested the performance and multiuser abilities.Traverse Accounting Software is written completely in Access 2. It was by far the slowest of the reviewed software. Worse it completely failed the multiuser test where MS-test was used to simulate 1, 3 and 5 users entering AP. It was the only one to fail. In the power-out data corrupt test Traverse was one of three to make a very poor showing. One most cases the files had to be recovered from backup.

DBMS - 7/95 - Alternative Engines for VB - page 85

Author briefly talks about how Jet is another half-hearted attempt at a product by MS that will cause you to buy a replacement later on. In closing he feels Jet is just fine for single user and less than 10,000 records.

Upgrade with the Upsizing Kit?

When doubts about Jet problems come up the usual suggestion is to try Jet and if it does not work we'll just upsize you to MS-SQL. I have posed this question on the Access Forum and the general response I got was: 1. It does fix the locking problems, 2. It does NOT fix the performce problems , 3. It's a lot different animal to maintain. Also this does nothing to fix the performance of Access code running on the client or the resource requirements. Thsi solution can be slower if the app is not redesigned to take advantage of the strengths of SQL server.

Is Access Really a Developer's Tool?

At MicroSoft's 1997 Developer Days all of the Developer tools were shown and Access was not there. Not even a mention. And the new MS Developer Suite includes VB and V-Foxpro but not Access. So MicroSoft clearly does not this Access is a developer tool.

What Happened to the Client?

I wrote a letter and stalled the Access project for a while. Then the company was bought along with another one that had an Oracle based system. The new merger is committed to using Oracle files and Oracle software like Oracle Forms. Another tool on the fat side. Last I heard things were sure running slow and they didn't like the resource requirements.