Split Your Microsoft Access Applications...Or Else

"Ghostbusters" has some important lessons to teach us about Access application development.

Split Your Microsoft Access Applications...Or Else

Gotta keep 'em separated

Since Microsoft Access serves two fundamentally different roles, it makes sense that these two roles should maintain a healthy separation.  One of the first lessons every Access developer should learn is the importance of splitting their application into front-end and back-end files.

There's a scene at the end of Ghostbusters when Venkman (Bill Murray) and Egon (Harold Ramis) are trying to decide what to do with their recently-possessed friends, the "gatekeeper" (Sigourney Weaver) and the "keymaster" (Rick Moranis).

[Venkman]: She says she's the gatekeeper.  Does that make any sense to you?
[Egon]: Some.  I just met the keymaster.  He's here with me now.
[Venkman]: Wonderful.  We have to get these two together.
[Egon]: I think that would be extraordinarily dangerous.

Think of Access, the RAD tool, as the gatekeeper.  Access, the file database, would be the keymaster.  And just as in Ghostbusters, bringing these two together into the same file "would be extraordinarily dangerous."  

Indeed, failing to heed this advice will result in one or more of the following calamities:

  • file corruption
  • data loss
  • slow performance
  • inability to scale
  • file bloat
  • deployment challenges
  • plagues
  • swarms of locusts
  • dogs and cats, living together
  • mass hysteria

Honestly, it would probably be safer to cross the streams.

Terror Dogs from the original "Ghostbusters"

All original code samples by Mike Wolfe are licensed under CC BY 4.0