Choice of Programming Language - data stored in SQL Server to Produce Printed Output


I am a long-standing (if occasional), Access developer (started dabbling in v1.1 !) and  despite some frustrations, generally love the environment - particularly when married to a SQL server back end.

Access VBA allows me to do what I need to do and, in the SME environment in which I operate, the built-in report designer means that I can build wall-to-wall solutions for my clients within the same development environment.

However, a new project is forcing me to consider moving away from Access. The initial stage of the project seems ideal for an Access/SQL Server solution -  input data from a (paper) application form and then, after processing the data, print out a quotation to be posted back out .

To start with, input will be done solely at our client's HQ and they already have SBS 2008 Premium (so SQL Server 2005) and Access 2010 on the desktop - great.

HOWEVER, moving forward, it is "likely" that input will additionally be done by a sales team in the field and/or by the end client themselves. Clearly, using Access in such a distributed environment would be 'interesting' to say the least !

So, the short question is, what would anybody recommend, bearing in mind my current skill set and the short and (likely) long term requirements ?

As always, any help or guidance appreciated.

Kind regards

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Gustav BrockCIOCommented:
I had the same considerations - been with Access since 1.0 - and after a deep breath and realising it was about time to learn something new, I went to Visual Studio (when it was at version 2005) and C#.

And I haven't looked back. The major reason is that it is build for developers where Access is moving towards a super-user tool and some SharePoint stuff - fun and useful for some but not for developers.

I won't fill the space here with links. Just google/bing "Visual Studio" and you have stuff for some days.
One page may be of some interest though:

As for reports, Visual Studio and SQL Server has a very powerful Reporting Services engine. It is _not_ Access and - with your Access background and habits - you will have to twist your head to get hold on it; but once you get it, it is a pleasure to work with. And the Report Viewer can export the pages to PDF and XLS files by one click of a button.


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Aaron TomoskyDirector of Solutions ConsultingCommented:
With your Vba experience I think a aspx web form would be the natural progression.
horatio_tooAuthor Commented:
Hi cactus_data and aarontomosky,

Thank you both for your swift replies.

I suppose that my head was already tossing up between the two options that you are proposing.

ASP.Net/VB.Net superficially seems closer to what I know, whilst C# seems more daunting, but perhaps the more 'professional' solution.

So how do I decide what is right for me ?

In particular, for the scenario described, for "external" users :-

1) Where would the 'front end' code sit - client computer, web-based server, in-house server (either via VPN or Sharepoint) ?

2) For remote users, would the data be stored directly into the in-house SQL database, or via a web-based SQL database and then replicated into the in-house ("master") database ?

3) ...and what about "reports" ? Would Reporting Services be available if the database is web-based and how does deal with reporting (I seem to remember something about having to use Crystal Reports when I did some vague investigations years ago )   ?

Sorry to be vague, but lots of 'half ideas' floating around at present and the input from people that have been there before us would help me to make the right choice.

Kind regards

Gustav BrockCIOCommented:
That's the beauty of Visual Studio. You can use the language(s) of your choice, and you can program for both desktop and web and any database.

If your application is a strict LOB, Line of Business, type you may also find LightSwitch interesting:

With this you can wait to decide as the very last step if you wish to deploy to the desktop, to a web server, or to the cloud (Windows and/SQL Azure). And your setup can be either 1-, 2-, or 3-tier.

Dirk HaestProject managerCommented:
This question has been classified as abandoned and is closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See the recommendation for more details.
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