Help With Microsoft Access On A Webserver

I host 20 odd Wordpress based sites on a Rackspace Win 2012 web server.

One client wants to get employees to fill in a spreadsheet full of data (same data fields such as name & a score on several criteria).  They then plan on copying & pasting said data into one master spreadsheet quarterly so that they can review the information & produce reports.

They discussed it with me & I suggested that they'd be better putting the information onto a database that all employees can update & then the managers will be able to view the reports in real-time.

I initially looked at Microsoft Access & have also played around with Zoho Creator.

I think that Access would do the job (I need to brush up my skills on the software!).  The only problem is that they want to access it from remote locations such as from home, etc.

So, I've thought that the best thing to do would be to stick a web based access database on my web server that they can then access with usernames (which I believe can be done in MSAccess).

I've been doing some fiddling & it appears that I need to have Sharepoint running on my server for this to work.  Is this correct & what are the license costs for this?

Who is Participating?
Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)Connect With a Mentor PresidentCommented:
<<While Access is making good strides in the web database area, I don't think it's quite ready for prime time just yet. >>

I would agree with LSM on this.  Access Web Apps have come a long way, but basically your limited to simple form design and CRUD operations at this time (They can't do reporting at this point, but you can run a hybrid design to get that done)

 And yes, they do require a SharePoint Enterprise license.  A cheap way around that is to use Office 365.   A point to with 2013; even though it requires SharePoint, data is actually stored in SQL Server, unlike Web DB's in A2007 and A2010.

 I point that out because many think that the web stuff from 2007 - 2013 is all the same and it is not.  A2007 - 2010 have web databases, A2013 has web apps, and they are not one in the same.  A2013 was a total reboot of what Access offers on the web side.

<<MS Access is not what you are looking for. MS access is not a server database and is not the best product in this case.>>

  Just a comment on this; quite to everyone's surprise is the fact that a JET DB on a web server is actually a pretty stable platform.  It certainly is not a server DB, but it is quite doable and has been done many times in the past with good results.

 The point everyone forgets in that setup is that only the web server software touches the DB, so as far as JET is concerned, it's working with a single user no matter how many users hit the web site.

 However since SQL Server and many other products have some so far in the last ten years and offer features that are simply not in JET (like on-line backups), then it is silly to use a JET backend for a web site.

unknown_routineConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Ok, let me make it as simple as I can:

MS Access is not what you are looking for. MS access is not a server database and is not the best product in this case.

What you need is MYSQL which is a  FREE server database.  MYSQL integrates better into web develpment and very smiple to learn and use.
Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE )Connect With a Mentor Infotrakker SoftwareCommented:
Are you looking at one of the new Web databases? If so, you should use Access 2013, which works much better with web stuff than earlier versions. That said, web databases are somewhat limited in scope, and you can experience some growing pains when the client asks for enhancements.

If you use 2013 and need the web database then you would need to Sharepoint setup. I have no idea what the licensing costs would be - you should contact MSFT directly for that advice.

Given what you've noted as requirements, however, I think the better approach is a true web application, written with one of the web-based languages (PHP, ASP.NET, etc) with the data stored in a server database (like MySQL, as suggested, or SQL Server Express, which is also free). While Access is making good strides in the web database area, I don't think it's quite ready for prime time just yet.
thomcooperAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the advice.

The forms are going to be relatively simple & the reporting only needs to be pretty basic (something that you'd quickly put together in Excel).

I agree that a PHP front end web interface with a MySQL server running on the webserver would be the best aproach, but the cost of building that vs building something in Access make it not suitable.

I'll sign up for a demo on 365 with Office 2013 & see how I get on.  If it can live on there, then I imagine that will be sufficient.

They're a school so they can get even cheaper education discount on the 365 route.  I'd liked to have hosted it on my server as I'd have more control over backups & the like but think its probably going to be too much for a MS Sharepoint License to sit on the webserver.

Another alternative might be if theres a GUI MySQL web interface builder that'll allow a non-coder to put together tables similar to Access?

Also, does anyone have any idea as to what the free version of Sharepoint offers?


Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)PresidentCommented:
<<Also, does anyone have any idea as to what the free version of Sharepoint offers?>>

 No free edition that I'm aware of...but for certain, it won't have Access Services, which is what you need to run the Access Web DB's or Web Apps.  That only comes with the enterprise license.

 There are BTW two different subscriptions in Office 365 that give you that (Access Services in Sharepoint) and the one is fairly reasonable in price.

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