Major Release of the Microsoft Access Version Control Add-in

Version 4.x of Adam Waller's msaccess-vcs-addin has been officially released today, featuring a ribbon toolbar, SQL formatting, and basic SQL Server schema support.

Major Release of the Microsoft Access Version Control Add-in

I've been eagerly awaiting this day for a long time.

Adam Waller released version 4 of his Access version control add-in yesterday.

Here's the announcement text from the official release:

v4.0.34 Major Update

After a couple years in the making, we are rolling out version 4 as a general release! This is a major update incorporating hundreds of enhancements, bug fixes, and performance improvements as the dev branch was merged into main. Below are some of the major highlights in moving from version 3.x to version 4.x:

  • Ribbon Toolbar interface - So much more intuitive and easier to use for beginners and daily users alike.
  • XML Formatting - Table definitions are exported in XML format, and XSLT transformation provides an improved and consistent output.
  • Split VBA code from designer layouts - VBA code from forms and reports can now be managed separately from the designer layouts, providing easier collaboration between developers and less "noise" when reviewing code changes.
  • Merge Support - Merge modified source files into an existing database without having to rebuild the entire database from scratch.
  • SQL Formatting - Automatically add formatting and indenting to Access SQL queries to improve readability and consistency.
  • Improved Indexing - Reworked the change detection process to use an internal index file to track changes to source files and database components. Change dates are stored as UTC, allowing better collaboration for remote developers.
  • Performance Improvements - Source export and change detection is faster than ever, and detailed performance reports are logged with each operation.
  • External Databases - Export SQL object definition files for external database components such as SQL Server tables. For those that don't use other VCS tools to manage changes to SQL objects, this provides a really simple way to track those changes within your Access project repository.
  • Conflict Resolution - Warn before overwriting unsaved changes in database objects, or source files that have changed since the last export.

If you encounter a bug or problem, please feel free to open an issue. Thanks again to all those that contributed towards the version 4 release over the past couple of years! My hope is that version 4 will empower many Access developers with even greater efficiency as they tap into the benefits of using version control.

My Thoughts

Version 4.x has been around for a long time, but before yesterday it was still technically in beta.  That said, Adam, I, and many others have been using v4.x in production for several months (or more).  It is very stable.  Now that it has moved from the "dev" branch into "main," though, it no longer shows up as a "Pre-release."  

For developers unfamiliar with the project, it's much more reassuring to download a release tagged "Latest" rather than one tagged "Pre-release."

Without reservations, I can now wholeheartedly recommend Adam Waller's msaccess-vcs-addin project as the best way to integrate version control into your Access development workflow.  

Bear in mind that you will still need a version control framework like Git or Mercurial to go with this addin.  The addin "only" breaks down a single binary .mdb/.accdb file into separate text files and provides the capability to build a new .mdb/.accdb file from these individual parts.  I put "only" in scare quotes because preparing an Access file for version control is a massive undertaking.  

To do it as simply, reliably, and performantly as Adam and his team of contributors have done, though, is a true tour de force.

Big congratulations to Adam and the rest of the team!

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