Sunday, July 02, 2006

Access 2007: First Impressions

I installed the Access 2007 BETA 2 over the weekend. These are my first impressions:
  • Install went smoothly and existing Access installations were not affected.

  • I was unable to open the sample applications/templates and received an error saying that I needed to load SQL Server Data Management Objects (SQL-DMO)? Running SQL Server 2005 Express did not fix the problem, and all download links for the sample databases from the BETA site were broken...

  • The RibbonBar navigation paradigm is bewildering and, from a developer's perspective, possibly a big mistake. It takes up a lot of screen space and the eye candy does not make up for the loss of accessibility and functionality from the ditching of the classic menubar/toolbar paradigm. It is telling that the VBA Editor retains the classic menubar and toolbars. It seems that Microsoft is deliberately pushing developers away from Office and VBA, while the Visual Studio Express applications retain the classic menus. There is a customizable QuickToolbar, to which you can add all available RibbonBar commands, but you can't create groups or nested hierarchies, and you can't add text to the icon buttons.

  • The change in the database format seems to stem from the need to handle RibbonBars and the new themes. This hardly compensates developers for the loss of Access security and the inability to implement classic menus. Changes to MDBs made in Access 2007 will be saved only in the new format. So for MDBs, Access 2007 offers only legacy support.

    This means that developers that need to support multiple Access versions, now also need to cope with incompatible file formats, as well as switching to and from the classic menus in Access prior versions and the clunky RibbonBars in Access 2007, and back again in the Access 2007 VBA Editor.

  • Ironically, the Switchboard Manager does not receive a make-over, using the Access 95 navigation paradigm AND the Access 95 format and colors.

Expect more posts as I delve further.

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