Microsoft Database Guy
I got involved with Microsoft quite early. My MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) ID is 3343, so only just over 3,000 people got accredited before I did.
I’ve always been a fan of Microsoft software. They seemed to have the “little guy” in mind, as opposed to the big corporations, which in the early days were companies like IBM and Oracle.
It’s a shame to me, then, that gradually over the years, Microsoft have seemed to have become the very essence of the big corporation themselves.
Since around 2003 they have been chipping away at my favourite product – Microsoft Access, basically dumbing it down and taking out its more powerful developer features.
Still, despite these grumbles, I still think they provide the best software platform for the desktop and, with Microsoft Access, they have the most productive database development tool around.
It seems to me that between Microsoft Excel, a beautifully rich data tool in its own right, and the .Net platform there has to be something to fill that gap.
Excel power-users can come up with complex formulae and VBA coded macros to do all sorts of clever algorithms with their data – but it’s not a database. Excel has no Primary Key and no elegant way of linking tables of data. It’s not multi-user. It’s just not a good place to store your data.
At the other end of the spectrum, Microsoft SQL Server is a superb database product with the richest and most cost-effective tool set available, but it has no easy-to-use development tools. Sure, there’s Report Writing Services but where’s the simple data entry form-builder? There isn’t one. You are encouraged to develop those with the .Net Framework.
Now, .Net is also a beautifully rich and well-designed tool but you have to be a specialist even to get started with it. It’s been on my “to do” list for years but every time I make a start, I am quickly reminded how tedious and unnecessarily complex it is to do the most basic data entry form with a bit of smart code behind it.
This is where Microsoft Access is in its element. In one click of a button, you can create a pretty functional data entry form onto which you can add smart VBA code snippets to do whatever is required. It’s as easy to use as Excel and as safe and robust as SQL Server if you decide to upsize your tables there. It’s a proper database in its own right, if you decide you don’t need such a robust database. For 10-15 users it’s adequate as a multi-user database too.
My hope is that Microsoft realise what a great product they have soon, reverse their trend of dumbing it down and actually invest in some long-overdue development tools to bring it back to where it was in 2003 – a real alternative to SQL Server/.Net development.
Too much database work makes a dull boy and I do have some other interests. As I am the son of Lithuanian and Romanian refugees I’ve always been interested in politics and Eastern European culture. I’ve always been a bit of a football fanatic and for twenty years or so I’ve been getting back into science in the field of anthropology and human evolution.
I have a few blogs and sister sites that may be of interest…
Since my interest in human evolution was rekindled by my eight-year old sone on bonfire night, 1995, I have been a keen proponent of the so-called (but mislabelled in my opinion) “Aquatic Ape Hypothesis”. I returned to academia, did a Master’s Degree at UCL and then a PhD at UWA basically on the origin of human bipedalism.
I have a waterside hypothesis of human evolution which I call “River Apes … Coastal People.” I have a couple of web sites and blogs on the subject.
I love football and have written a blog from the last two major international tournaments…
I’m also currently writing a nostalgic blog about Nottingham Forest’s amazing success 40 years ago (1977-1981). The 40th anniversary of every match is celebrated with a write up which take the reader down memory lane to a time when football wasn’t quite so greedy and dominated by the rich clubs.