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Monday, March 03, 2003
MS Access!?!?!?!?!

My predecessor at this job did everything in Access. He has tons of processes "coded" in access, and everyone of them requires clicking multiple dialog boxes and looking at the data after each one of them to ensure that everything went ok. Although the processes are fairly hands on, it wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't written in Access. They did so many screwy things in access, like you have to click a dialog box usually 2 to 3 times just to run a query. Not to mention all the non-standard syntax, for instance they support the like operator but wildcards are * instead of %. Of course none of these problems are insurmountable, it's just highly frustrating to work with this type of a system after having the power of SQL at your fingertips. It also wouldn't be so bad if they didn't have to prompt you for everything, "Are you sure you want to perform this operation?", "you clicked yes, you will delete xxx rows, are you still sure?", "preparing to run the query, still sure?", "ready to run the query, are you positive you want to do this?". While that may be a bit overstated, after working with SQL Server, it doesn't feel that way. Someone, please make it go away.

Another side effect of access, is that it allows people who aren't programmers or database admins to build databases. While many people think this is a good thing, after working with databases built by complete novices, I am not of this opinion. Not only do non-programmers, write these databases, but they feel like they are fully capable of tracking enterprise level data in them. Unfortunately what ends up happening is the Access databases are incredibly high maintenance, and they require a lot of hands on to get them to work. So usually the novices get overwhelmed with the amount of data (or the amount of processes) and pass the database off to the database admin or a programmer at some point. The programmer is then stuck in a catch 22. He is given a process that works "mostly", but is at *least* 20 times longer and more inefficient than it needs to be. If he re-writes the process, he is stuck with the time and expense of doing that. If he doesn't he is stuck with the headache of working with an inefficient process.

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