The State of Access Today
What's the state of Microsoft Access in 2021: thriving, alive, dying, or dead? If you only know Access by reputation, the answer may surprise you.
Over at Developer's Hut, Access MVP Daniel Pineault posed the following question:
Here’s a question I put to you, How is Access fairing today in your humble opinion?
- Thriving as it should, growing in the world
- Alive, but not progressing
- On a downward spiral towards its demise
- Dead, already in its cemetery plot
Access: Alive, But Not Progressing
As has been the case for about 10 years now, Access is "Alive, but not progressing."
As Access nears its 30th birthday, I think it will still be around another three decades from now.... in roughly the same form it is now.
Stuck in Limbo
Access holds zero appeal for young software developers. No Silicon Valley VC is going to invest in your Access-based software product. It doesn't scale the way a web-based SaaS does. There will always be a ceiling on how much leverage you can generate selling an Access-based business-to-consumer product that does not exist with web applications.
BUT, if you are a competent Microsoft Access developer, you will have no shortage of custom desktop software projects to build (and maintain). I think it's safe to say there are 100s of thousands (if not millions) of critical business applications running in Microsoft Access today. And there is simply no other product available that offers a seamless migration option for a front-end Access application. In fact, Microsoft practically guaranteed that would be the case when they broke VBx backward compatibility in their move to VB.Net.
The ONLY thing that could make Access go away is a directly compatible alternative product (the way Excel supplanted Lotus 1-2-3). Of course, that's very unlikely to happen anytime soon because no software company is interested in trying to build or sell a desktop Rapid Application Development platform to a market that won't even consider investing in anything that doesn't include the word "cloud" somewhere in its name.
Extreme Makeover: Access Edition
So, what would it take to grow Access from "Alive" to "Thriving?"
Microsoft needs to do a better job of marketing Access as a development platform.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Make Access more version-control friendly
- Stop selling Access short by referring to it as a no-code/low-code development platform in official communications
- Do something about the 90's era IDE (VS Code integration, anyone?)
- Clarify Access's dual purpose as both a front-end and back-end (perhaps some light rebranding as Access Interact™ vs. Access Jet™?)