It has been traditional when developing a new company administration database system, to create the Front-End as a Microsoft Access database. With the popularity of Visual Basic.Net, the option of using VB.Net should be considered.
Microsoft Access is geared for the small system – and the novice programmer who wants results quickly. Microsoft Access is ideal for this – a meaningful and useful system can be created within hours.
On the other hand, VB.Net is extremely powerful, although somewhat complex.
Here are the arguments for and against each alternative:
Develop the Front-End in Microsoft Access
The Good Features:
- Using a wizard to create bound forms, a system can be created quickly
- The Query and the Report designers are very friendly
- The Rapid application development (RAD) features of Microsoft Access allow it to quickly prototype any proposed system
- The Access queries are optimised
- Record locking is automatic
- Bound forms have too many quirks for large-scale systems – the professional programmer is more likely to use Unbound forms
- Constant upgrades of Microsoft Office Professional software are required
- Multiple Microsoft Access licenses can be expensive
- There are often performance problems
- Tuning is required with increased functionality, or any high activity or as volumes grow
- Network traffic can be high
- Large systems become unwieldy, difficult and expensive to maintain
- Much of the Access logic is hidden and difficult to maintain
- Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) has a limited future
- There are data recovery issues
Develop the Front-End in VB.Net
The Good Features:
- The system will be more robust and scalable in a multi-user environment.
- There is a huge array of features that can produce any desired effect.
- The development environment is stable and efficient.
- Features like batch Emailing can be easily added.
- The Charting graphics are superb.
- Maintaining strict program coding standards is important
- Care has to be taken that the “huge array of features” is not used, and that only simple, non-esoteric and maintainable code is employed
- The object orientated development features can make support and maintenance harder, and should be avoided
- All client machines will need to have the.NET framework installed – a one-time download is required
- Care must be taken to avoid simultaneous updating of the same record
- Reports will need to utilise a Microsoft Access database report writer
For a large company administration system, developing in VB.Net is comparable in cost and speed of development in Microsoft Access.
With a large number of users, SQL Server is the preferred option for the Back-End database. It has SQL Server Reporting Services for report writing.
A Microsoft Access solution will still be the most cost-effective solution for small applications.
But beware! Small applications have a habit of growing, and…