Access is the Worlds most popular RAD Database

Bringing an easy to use Rapid Application Development (RAD) tool to the business users mass market was a central goal when Microsoft first Launched Access v1.0 as a stand-alone product. Databases developed using Microsoft Access (or “Ms Access” as people often call it) are now Access is used by millions – Always in the top 10 most popular database engines, for everything from very simple data capture tools right through to large business running their entire business using Access.

How did Access get so popular?

Largely, we believe, Access databases are so popular because a skilled Ms Access developer can create a wide range of software functionality in a far shorter timeframe than any other development platform. Even a novice Access developer can create simple databases quickly. The timesaving (a shorter Software Delivery Cycle) results in business requirements being met far sooner, for less expenditure, by more people. Looking at it this simply, it’s easy to see why Ms Access is so popular.

But it’s not a “Real” database, is it?

Historically, Information Technology departments (IT Departments) are rarely big fans of Ms Access, and these IT Departments have made a point of pushing this misperception.

Here’s our theory on this one (Based on having seen many, many real-life occurrences) – Your average office worker (Let’s call him Bob) has a business need that can be met with a simple database. He calls the IT Department (who are backlogged with other work), and they give him a timeframe (or internal billing price) that just doesn’t match Bob’s timeframe or budget. So Bob, amazed at why something seemingly so simple became such a mammoth task for IT, decides to give it a go using MS Access himself.

Pretty soon, without knowing much about databases or software development, Bob has now built an Access database that does 70% to 80% of the functionally needed for his simple business requirement. The immediate problem is now his lack of development knowledge is slowing him down in completing everything he wanted. Bob thinks “Surely if I got 80% of the way without knowing anything, it will be easy and fast for IT to do the little bit left?!?!?!”.

Bob calls IT to help him complete the remaining 20%, and this is where the friction starts. IT doesn’t want to maintain a database it didn’t create. Additionally, it’s a bit confronting to have Bob telling them that he did 80% of the job they said would take 3 months, in around 2 weeks. In Bob’s mind, he’s solved the problem and now all they have to do is finish it, which he estimates should take “Someone who knows’s what they are doing” only a day or two.

The IT department reacts by explaining to Bob that their solution would have been proper, and his one is not – It’s not a “Real” database.

Bob hits the books, or gets external help, finishes the last 20% of his database and starts telling colleagues about how he did something the IT Department could not.

IT continues to bad mouth Access.

It might seem like the story above is a bit fantastic, but we’ve seen it many, many times….