The Front-End: Should It Be Written in VB.Net or Microsoft Access?

  Microsoft Office

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

Large-scale Systems

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.

Small-scale Systems

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…


Source by Neville Silverman