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> Access: What Is It For Newcomers?    
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Access is a combination of different tools which allow storing and accessing data. This is an extremely complex task, but Access provides a user interface which simplifies data management as far as possible. Newcomers to database management systems can rapidly produce a simple Access Application which will efficiently automate many administrative tasks. If the initial database is built with care, it is possible to extend it almost indefinitely.

Access is fundamentally different from Excel, and it is far more complex and powerful than the other applications in the Office suite. A common mistake is to build your first Access application just like a spreadsheet. This is not the way Access works, and if you build a set of tables like spreadsheets, you will soon find that they will not be able to manipulate your data in the way you want. To fully understand how your data fits together it is important to develop an understanding of relational database design. The data will be split into groups with shared characteristics which are stored together in a Table. The way these Tables relate to each other is an important part of your database design.

Among the tasks Access can accomplish are data storage in Tables, data entry and modification in Forms, and data publication in Reports. These tasks can be done without actually writing any computer code. However, to move beyond a very simple database, it is necessary to acquire some knowledge of programming languages, notably SQL and VBA. Access provides interfaces to simplify learning and writing these.

The functionality provided by Access has evolved through different versions, so it is important to be aware of the version you are using.

Access is sold by Microsoft as part of the Office suite, either as a one-off purchase or a subscription.

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