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converting msaccess application into a standalone application

Posted on 2011-02-18
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hi Expert

I am thinking about creating an application for distribution. I am very familiar with MSAccess so I'd like to develop the application in access. I know about converting the application to mde but that still requires the user to have access installed on their computer.

So the question is what are the possible ways to convert an access application into a standalone application that can run on PC without msaccess licence.

At this stage I am open to suggestion the end result could be a browser based or exe application. Browser based will be better as it will provide cross platform usability but research suggests that Windows occupies more than 90% of the  Australian market so there is no need to be fussy about cross plateform.

I know that this question is a bit vague. My apology, at this stage I am still brainstorming.

Cheers
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Question by:Sheils
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9 Comments
 
LVL 10

Assisted Solution

by:Michael Vasilevsky
Michael Vasilevsky earned 135 total points
ID: 34931421
You'll need to supply your user's with a runtime version of Access. That's the only way they can run your application without an Access license. It's free to download:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?familyid=d9ae78d9-9dc6-4b38-9fa6-2c745a175aed&displaylang=en

I use Access runtime 2003 and compile an installation package using the Access 2003 Developer Extensions Package Wizard. It's really easy to use and adds a level of professionalism to your applications, but it does cost $. Details here:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/office/aa905403

Hope this helps!

MV
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LVL 16

Author Comment

by:Sheils
ID: 34931535
Sounds like a good start.

I will just live this post open for another 24hr and see if there is any futher comments/advise

Cheers
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LVL 40

Assisted Solution

by:als315
als315 earned 135 total points
ID: 34931921
In Access 2010 you have "Save and Publish" option, where is master for DB distribution. You can include runtime and prepare pack with your DB.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:JVWC
ID: 34931997
A great tool here for deployment.
http://www.sagekey.com/installation_access.aspx

Cheers
JC
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LVL 85

Accepted Solution

by:
Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE ) earned 180 total points
ID: 34932790
First and foremost: There are a lot of issues with deployment of Access applications, generally more so than deployment of apps using other languages (like VB.NET or VB6, for example). The need for the Runtime is the biggest issue, but there are ways around that. If you were just starting on your journey, I'd encourage you to consider using VB.NET to develop your application, but note that would require a steep learning curve in many cases.

With that said:

There are also a lot of "gotchas" with Runtime deployment. See these MSDN article for the details. Some of them are for different versions of Access, but the content is still relevant:

Developing Access Runtime Applications
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa165862%28v=office.10%29.aspx

Deploying Complex Microsoft Office Access Runtime-Based Solutions:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa167832%28v=office.11%29.aspx

I'd also encourage you to thoroughly test your application on ALL common platforms (i.e. Windows XP/Vista/Win7 (32 and 64 bits)). At this stage of the game an MSDN subscription is invaluable to you, since it provides you with numerous license keys for all those Operating systems. Using "virtual machine" software, like vmWare or VirtualPC. With this software, you can build virtual machines that allow you to exactly emulate your end user environments. This is invaluable for troubleshooting deployment issues, since what works great on a Windows XP SP3 machine doesn't necessarily work on a Windows XP SP2 machine - and if you can't emulate that environment, your support troubles will quickly sink your reputation.

Do you have a compiled help file with context-sensitive help? That's a requirement for a commercially-distributed application, and users will expect it. Here's some good links regarding this:

Using HTML Help with Access:
http://frogleg.mvps.org/helptechnologies/htmlhelp/hhaccess.html

Tony Toews site page regarding Access help:
http://www.granite.ab.ca/access/accshelp.htm

I use Help and Manual to do this: http://www.ec-software.com/. It's easy to use and produces excellent results. I've also used WestWind (www.west-wind.com) and HelpStudio (http://www.innovasys.com/products/hs3/overview.aspx). Both of those work well also.

I too highly recommend Sagekey for your deployment needs, especially when you're deploying the Runtime with your package. Without it, you can get some very irate customers. As you may be aware, if you have other versions of Access on the machine, Access will "register" the last used version and use that when the user doubleclicks a .mdb file, for example. This means that if you install the runtime, and the user launch your app, the NEXT time they fire off an Access application using just a doubleclick, that file will open in the Runtime, and in most cases that is NOT what the enduser expected. Sagekey includes a utility that ensures your application launches using the Runtime, but when your app has finished loading it reverts the machine back to the way it was prior to your app running - which means that the end user is happy, and you don't get nasty support calls!

Sagekey also doubles as a professional installer, so your enduser has a positive impression of your app.


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LVL 58

Assisted Solution

by:Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)
Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE) earned 50 total points
ID: 34932986

  I would also kick in that the runtime is free to distribute only with A2007 and up.   A2003 would cost $$.

  Also, you can check your app using a full version to see how it will behave in runtime mode by starting the full version with the /runtime switch.

  Last:

<<At this stage I am open to suggestion the end result could be a browser based or exe application. Browser based will be better as it will provide cross platform usability but research suggests that Windows occupies more than 90% of the  Australian market so there is no need to be fussy about cross plateform.>>

   You can run Access based apps via a couple of different means:

1. www.eqldata.com

2. Access 2010 and Sharepoint Access Services - Let's you run Access apps out of share point

3. Use of terminal server - This is really not a distribution option, but one more for a company that want's to run a Access app over a WAN.

  But there is no direct "conversion" to web enable an Access app or create an .EXE.

  Keep in mind that an Access app is more like a document that is read rather then a program that is executed.

JimD.
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LVL 16

Author Comment

by:Sheils
ID: 34935400
Hi Guys


That's great a fair few thinks to chew on.

I will try the realtime option first and see how it works on my desktop which has office 2003 as oppose to my desktop which has office 2010.

I have downloaded the runtime.exe and installed it but I can't find where it runs from. But I guess that a separate question.
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LVL 85
ID: 34937079
In generally installs in a folder under <Program Files>\Microsoft Office\<Your Version>, but I"m not sure on that. As JimD said, however, you can emulate the runtime by launching your application with the /runtime switch. The simplest way to do that is to build a desktop shortcut with a target like this:

"full path to msaccess.exe" "full path to your database" /runtime

And please - don't be fooled into thinking that if it runs okay on your machine with multiple versions, that it will do so on other machines. The forums and newsgroups are full of postings where developers tried to simply deploy the Access runtime without using Sagekey, and none of them are positive :). That's not to say it can't happen - I'm sure it does, in tightly controlled environments where the devs can insure that ALL processes are launched with the correct version of Access, and there is sufficient training and such so that the users aren't overburdened with the long delay that can come about when switching versions. However, if you're deploying "in the wild", you won't have that control, and it's incumbent on you to take every precaution to avoid that.

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LVL 16

Author Comment

by:Sheils
ID: 34938310
Thanks LSM

I do intend to use SageKey when I am ready to deploy, which will probably be 1yr from know. For know I am just looking for options that sounds promising.

For know I will just have a play with runtime on my own computer using some dummy application. Then I will develop the actual application and involve Sagekey.

Thanks Again

SB
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