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Access 2010 Database Hosting Feature

Posted on 2010-08-15
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Hello,

I have purchased a copy of Office 2010 Professional including Access 2010, but I am not familiar enough with it yet so I wanted to ask a question before I waste a lot of time chasing my tail.

I want to create a grade entry database for a school. It needs to be set up a particular way, ergo, commercial options are not a choice and I am creating it from scratch. I have been using a rudimentary PHP solution I dislike; however, it gives me the customization I need.

I would like a central, online repository, similar to a MySQL database. It would be in Access format however. It would need to be secured.

From the central Access repository, I would like to have web access to my forms, like the screenshots here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff402351.aspx

I would want to limit it so that teachers could only access, modify, and edit data for a pre-populated list of students. They couldn't go change data for another teacher's class, etc. Some sort of filter, I imagine.

I would want this all traveling through an SSL cert as it is FERPA protected information.

Can this be done? I created a nice Access 2007 form to do this prior to my mediocre PHP solution simply because some teachers at the school used MAC computers. If it is online, MAC is not an issue.

What is the performance like? How does it handle? Does it look like an Access form would? Can I add the limitations/filters I talked about?

Who provides Access 2010 hosting if this is a possibility? Data integrity is key. If a teacher wants to delete their data, fine. They cannot be permitted to change or delete data from other teachers, however. It seems like I tried Sharepoint with Access 2010 and it was a disaster as anyone could log in and change the central accmdb file, etc.

Thanks,
Joseph Irvine
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Question by:jkeagle13
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by:t_hungate
ID: 33443159
How many web forms are you looking at maintaining?  I have not read much on the new web services offered by MS and Access 2010, but I am pretty sure that you have to utilize sharepoint, and a sharepoint service to get your db forms to display via the web.

I have created a dozen or so databases that provide the back-end storage of web site.  I would recommend going that route if you have knowledge in a web language.  I use active script pages, more often than not, but you can utilize just about any of them.

If you only have a few forms that would need to be accessible online it would be very simple, and then you can program in the security you were talking about, as well as utilizing SSL.  If you have a good web editor this can be done quite simply.  I would suggest Adobe Dreamweaver if you do not currently have an editor, you can download and eval copy for free.
https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/tdrc/index.cfm?product=dreamweaver

Hope this helps.

TLH
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peter57r earned 1000 total points
ID: 33443717
This is not an informative response but I doubt if anyone can answer the questions you have posed.
Access web databases are new to 2010 as you know and sadly there is very little organised documentation on the feature.   Quite a few developers have experimented with this feature and the general view is quite positive but I've not seen any published case-study or similar material on any operational non-MS development.  
The development approach is unfamiliar to existing developers because it has to be done using macros (albeit the new improved macros) and historically Access application developers have not used macros, but VBA.  
A web database can be 'developed ' on your local pc just using Access  but for production the data store has to be transferred into a propery licensed Sharepoint service- and it has to be Enterprise version which offers Access web services.  No individual developer can afford this so using a hosting company is looking like the approach.
Of course that changes the economics compared with installing a multi-user Access application because you incur monthly  charges for hosting the data and a monthly per-user charge for access (small a).  See www.accesshosting.com as an example.
In a hosted set-up no user is going to have access to the server so I can't see how any 'backdoor' changes by users would be possible. Of course if you were contemplating running your own server then it is up to you to define the server and sharepoint security/access limitations.
 As for who sees what data, that would have to be controlled by your application and in principle I don't see a problem with that.  Restricting data based on username parameters in queries is a fairly normal thing to do in current Access apps.
MS have made a big deal of 'improved performance' in Access/Sharepoint usage in 2010 versions compared with 2007.  I've seen mixed reports from developers who have tried to test this.  As you might know Sharepoint is not relational and there are still questions over the techniques MS have introduced in  2010 to implement this key (from a traditional Access developer viewpoint) feature.
So in summary, I think this is still a 'pioneering' approach and solid advice on how to develop Access web databases might take a little time to emerge.
 
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by:GrahamMandeno
ID: 33444257
Thank you, Peter.  A very good summary.  The only part I have to disagree with is that it is not an informative response :-)
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Graham
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LVL 9
ID: 33446292
Hi Peter,

Great response, I agree with everything you said, with one question:

Access Services adds a relational layer to SharePoint 2010.  One can enforce declarative referential integrity between tables in the Access designer, which does make SharePoint 2010 "relational".  It looks different from Access or SQL Server, and as a database guy from way back I'm still getting used to it, but it seems to do the job.  Are you seeing problems with it?

Cheers,
Armen
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by:Rey Obrero (Capricorn1)
ID: 33446380

jkeagle13,

see if this will fit in your requirements

http://eqldata.com/onweb/
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by:peter57r
ID: 33446488
"Are you seeing problems with it?"

No but I've not done anything remotely 'challenging' as I'm still trying to cope with it at all.

For info to anyone reading, there is now a web database version of Northwind available at MS.
I've downloaded this but won't have chance to look at for a few days.  That might give us a better handle on overall system structure for web databases.
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by:t_hungate
ID: 33447316
Capricor1,

Very inerrstimg link, do you know what kind of security they are able to support?

I will be looking into them a bit more, just out of curiosity.

TLH
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Expert Comment

by:accesshosting
ID: 33447401
Take a look at accesshosting.com - there is a trial that allows you to publish out your Access tables and create web based forms and reports.
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