MS Access 2013 Web Application

Posted on 2014-02-23
Last Modified: 2014-02-27

I have a client who has an old 97 MS Access Database Application. He wants to convert it to 2013 and have it accessible via web.

My thoughts were to convert it to 2010 first and iron out any conversion issues. Then as a next step to set up a SharePoint 2013 on line and create some forms which he requires and link it to a back end on his local desktop machine (i don't know if this is possible without a server, however he is reluctant to purchase a server).

My question is whether it is possible to have Access apps from share point linking back to a local MS Access database on someone's desktop (or server)?

Many thanks.

Question by:Dylan_E
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Accepted Solution

Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE) earned 250 total points
ID: 39882097

  First, you want to use A2013.   With A2007/A2010, there are web databases, which can work on the web through SharePoint.    Data is kept in SharePoint lists.  

  With A2013, we now have Web Apps.  This is a totally different animal then web databases.   They still run through SharePoint, but now the data is housed in SQL (Azue, which is SQL Server online).

 and with this, yes it is possible to have a "hybrid" design.   In fact in converting an old app, it basically a requirement.    Web apps are very restricted at this time in what they can do.  There is none of the rich functionality of the desktop DB.   For example, just for starters, there is no VBA.

 So it's impossible to convert most Access apps to a web version directly.

 You do have a couple other options for getting an Access db on the web:

1. The service at

2. Using terminal services and possibly Citrix to allow remote users to access a server via the web.   In this setup, the apps are local to a server.  Just KVM (Keyboard, video, and mouse) is running across the wire.

  With these two, DB's run pretty much "as is", so they are attractive options for DB's that already exist.

LVL 35

Assisted Solution

PatHartman earned 250 total points
ID: 39882968
accessible via web
What does that mean?  Does he want his people to work remotely?  Does he want clients to be able to interact with the application?

If the answer is the former, the best solution would be to convert to A2010 or A2013 (either is fine - A2013 has no new features for client/server apps so there is no advantage to going to it) and then use Terminal Services if only one or two people would be using the app at any one time or Citrix if you need more concurrent users.  Terminal Services can be set up and requires a $100 per seat license and I think is limited to one or two concurrent users for each machine.  This method would have the users "dial in" to their own computer and would be the cheapest solution.  Citrix is more sophisticated and requires fairly hefty licensing fees.  You can find providers who will support Citrix for $45 per user per month if the client doesn't have the technical support to set up his own environment.

If the client wants outside access to the application from either known or unknown users, he needs an outward facing application and so would need to create an A2013 web app using those capabilities.  The data will be in SQL Azure rather than SharePoint lists (which is a good thing) and you can create a hybrid app that has both internal only and external forms.  This would be the most expensive to implement since it would involve completely rewriting the existing app.  There is no conversion path available and has already been mentioned you loose VBA and so are restricted to macros (for the web forms - you can still use VBA for client forms in a hybrid app).  You also loose reporting and other features so be very clear on what the outside people need before you commit to this.  The monthly cost to support this would be $12.50 or $15.00 depending on how many users need to be supported.  The web/SharePoint side of the app doesn't require licensing.  Only the internal users need licenses.  This subscription licensing model is still very unclear in most peoples minds and reading the info on the Microsoft website is not very enlightening since it pretty much assumes you are only using Word, Excel, Outlook.  It doesn't consider Access as a life form.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39890449
Thank you both for commenting. Very informative answers and they have helped a lot. Ace, I am going to try this Eqldata mainly out of interest, but I still believe remote login via Citrix will be the way to go. I advised them that before i even posted the question.

Do either of you know if Citrix allows multiple user remote entry if running on a desktop machine...?
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Expert Comment

ID: 39890495
I think Citrix has to run on a server.  Terminal services can run on an individual PC.  I think, but I wouldn't swear to it that you can have only one live connection at a time using Terminal services (also called Remote Desktop or something like that).  With Citrix on a server, I'm not sure how they license it.  It could be by the user or it could be by the server or it could be a combination.  Citrix tends to be a little pricy for small companies.
LVL 57
ID: 39890543
<<Do either of you know if Citrix allows multiple user remote entry if running on a desktop machine...? >>

 No.  Citrix runs on top of Terminal Services, which is only available on a server OS.   A normal desktop or non-TS Server, two RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) sessions are all your allowed.  

Your also talking some solid hardware for running it.  A desktop machine would never cut it even if the OS allowed it.

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Expert Comment

ID: 39890580
Some of my small clients use RDP to allow users to log into their own PC's remotely.  That is relatively inexpensive to implement ($100 per seat for "home" versions of Windows and included with "pro" versions) as long as everyone already has a PC.  For Citrix, you run a server and it creates virtual sessions for each person.  They are not tied to a specific PC.  So RDP is something akin to Go To My PC.

Author Comment

ID: 39890602
<< No.  Citrix runs on top of Terminal Services, which is only available on a server OS.   A normal desktop or non-TS Server, two RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) sessions are all your allowed.  >>

They only need two remote people to log in anyway. So if windows will allow two RDP sessions, this could be the way to go... Would i still need to install Citrix for these two sessions or can it be done via Windows?
LVL 57
ID: 39891195
<<So if windows will allow two RDP sessions, this could be the way to go... >>

  No, not really.   By default, the OS is in "admin mode" and gives you two sessions for remote support, one of which is the console session.

 The server is not running in Terminal Services mode and will not support multiple application users correctly.

 When you run in TS mode, certain portions of the registry are copied for each individual user and not shared.  When your in admin mode, that doesn't happen.  The two sessions available are for remote support, not running applications.

  You can do this fairly cheap and still do it right.  Look for Windows 2008 Server R2  and buy a 5 pack of TS client licenses.  With 2008 R2, there was enough improvement that you really don't need Citrix anymore, and now that 2012 is out, you can get 2008 for under $500.


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