Best way to distribute and run an access front end on a group of various computers

Hello All

I have an access program (I did it in Access 2013).  The backend is on a server that all the users in the company have a connection to.  Originally I was simply going to place the front end on everyone's machine.

The problem is that the machines are radically different from each other.  Some have Office 2003 while others have Office 2010 and some have nothing.

None of the users have Access so I was simply going to run the Access 2013 runtime on each machine.  This worked out great for the first few but then I ran into an issue were the runtime would not load.  I got the "Microsoft Access runtime 2013 encountered and error during setup" and then "Microsoft Setup bootstrapper has stopped working".

First off I do not know how to even address that last issue, so I was wondering if there is a way to have the user run the front end without having access on their machine?  Could they simply have a shortcut to the front end on the server and have it run that way?  SOrry if this question seems odd, I never have had this issue before (when I ran split databases I was always able to install 2013 runtime)

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Make sure you are installing the 32-bit version of the Access runtime.  Make sure you are developing in the 32 bit version of Access.  If you are not, there may be old computers where you will not be able to install the app because they are 32-bit hardware.

If it isn't a bit-wise issue, it may be an OS issue and you can't install A2013 on a PC with an old OS.  In that case, as long as you haven't used any A2013 dependent features, you might be able to distribute the A2010 runtime instead.  Use the same runtime for everyone though to avoid consistency issues.

Using SageKey to create an install package could make this somewhat easier since in addition to installing the specified runtime, it will also create the necessary trusted directories.

Distributing updates will be much simpler.  You can buy one of the tools created for the purpose.  Tony Toews and FMS both have well-respected offerings.  Or you can roll your own.  I use the curmudgeon method.  I created a .bat file that copies the current version of the FE from a server directory to the local C: drive and then opens the database.  This ensures that each time the user opens the database, they get a fresh copy.  I place the .bat file in a server folder and then send everyone a shortcut that points to the .bat file on the server.  They download the shortcut and when they click on it, the FE is copied down and then opened.  Make sure that inside the .bat file and in the shortcut, you use \\server\path syntax rather than specifying drive letters to avoid mapping conflicts.

a good alternative is to use a Terminal Server instead. There you can install the Access runtime once and then all users can start the database frontend on the server using it's installed runtime. This way is a guarantee that it works independent if the user changes anything on the local machine. The rollout is much easier as you simply can copy the frontend to user folder on the server. Moreover you can use Windows RemoteApp (since Windows 2008 Server), this makes it possible to start only the database without a complete desktop. Looks for the user like if he had started a local application.



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Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
Few points to add:

1. On:
First off I do not know how to even address that last issue, so I was wondering if there is a way to have the user run the front end without having access on their machine?

The answer is no.  Either they need a full retail version or the runtime version, but Access must be present in some form to run the DB.

2. On 32/64 bit:

  You can't mix and match.  If a machine has 64 bit office, you must run 64 bit Access.   Like wise if 32 bit, you must run 32 bit.

  Sage's installer does not get around this.   So you may need to develop in two versions.

3. Anytime your developing for multiple versions, you should always develop in the lowest common version to avoid problems.  You should also use late binding rather than early (an explicit reference) if your using Outlook.   If you don't, then you'll also need a different version for each version of Office that your users have.

Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
If the app has a limited number of users, you might consider installing access on a terminal services server with one version of Office/Access which you can control.

alevin16Author Commented:
These are great comment!  I am going to look into the Terminal services and see what I can do there.

Thank you all!
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