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UtterAccess Forums _ Access Q and A _ Version For Database Development?

Posted by: appro Sep 10 2019, 04:06 PM

I'm running A2016 on my development machine. I have a new laptop arriving soon and am thinking of installing Office 365 on that. I don't do much development on that machine.....only very occasionally.

Are there any/many downsides to going down the Office 365 path?

Posted by: theDBguy Sep 10 2019, 04:12 PM

Hi. Please don't take my word for it, but I can't think of any. Good luck!

Posted by: GroverParkGeorge Sep 10 2019, 04:32 PM

The MAIN difference is how licensing is handled: perpetual vs. annual subscription.

Also, newer features will be introduced first in the O365 version and later, if at all, in the "boxed" version.

Otherwise, nothing that I am aware of either.

Posted by: isladogs Sep 10 2019, 04:38 PM

If you are developing for clients, you should always use the 'lowest common denominator' for your Access development.
So I still develop mainly in A2010 because many of my clients use that but none are using A2007 or earlier.

One advantage is getting the latest features ..but that only matters if you will make use of them.
In some cases, those updates won't work in earlier versions e.g. Modern charts, support for bigint datatype.
Disadvantages include monthly updates and frequent complaints about the poor quality of testing before updates are released.

Also the default installation is now 64-bit but it offers minimal improvements over 32-bit and any API declaration will need updating.

Posted by: appro Sep 10 2019, 04:45 PM

Thanks for your input and advice gents. I used to develop in 2010 until recently moving to A2016. I spoke with all clients first and all but one is using either A2016 or 365 and one is updating from 2010 shortly. I have a VM with 2010 on it for if and when that client needs changes or additions.

My main concern about going to 365 is updates. As we all know, sometimes they do far more harm than good thanks to the very ordinary QC that seems to be the norm at MS these days. I'm assuming, and can someone please clarify this, that 365 updates can be put on hold, same as Windows updates.

Also, from what I understand the version of Access currently in 365 is A2016. Is that actually the case and when will it likely change to 2019? Does MS give prior warning of that when it happens?

Posted by: GroverParkGeorge Sep 10 2019, 04:52 PM

Actually, I believe you won't see any further version changes like that. It's "O365" from now on.

Some might say that WE are now Microsoft's QA team.

Posted by: appro Sep 10 2019, 04:55 PM

smile.gif I'm not sure if I should thank you for that or not George.

Posted by: GroverParkGeorge Sep 10 2019, 04:56 PM

It's a big job, but "somebody" has to do it.

Posted by: dale.fye Sep 10 2019, 05:08 PM


"but none are using A2007 or earlier."

Wish I could say that, I've still got a number of clients that are using 2003, despite my recommendation to upgrade. It becomes a real pain in the a55!


Posted by: projecttoday Sep 10 2019, 05:34 PM

I've never used it so correct me if I'm wrong but don't you have to pay a monthly for Office 365 as opposed to a one-time purchase price?

Posted by: DanielPineault Sep 10 2019, 05:48 PM

don't you have to pay a monthly for Office 365 as opposed to a one-time purchase price?

Exactly. Access 2019 one time purchase, Office 365 is subscription (pay monthly or annually).

Access 2019 - is a static product. You get security and bug updates, that's it.
Office 365 - is a dynamic product. You get security, bug updates and feature updates. So you'll get anything that Microsoft develops and releases. This is good and bad. You get new features which can be fun, but you also are continually getting buggy updates that cause continuous problems and headaches. Windows 10 and Office 365 are both following the same update process and both are horribly buggy!

The other thin that I dislike is that these newer product require access to the internet on a regular basis (every 30 days I believe) to phone home otherwise they lock themselves down. So there is no way to set things up and then isolate them. So from a security perspective they are actually worse than previous version as you have to leave them connected.

Some might say that WE are now Microsoft's QA team.

Might?! It's not a question of might, it IS what is the current reality. We have become guinea pigs for Microsoft. They pump out software without proper testing and wait for us to report problems and then react. It permits them to push out update faster, but ruins the user experience. I just found this post which says it exactly as it at MS and how they fired the entire QA team!

Posted by: RJD Sep 10 2019, 05:57 PM

Hi Robert: Actually it's an annual fee I think ( maybe monthly option?). A friend just got a new computer, and took the advice of a clerk at Office Depot to get 365. She had no clue that she had to install locally to get Access and Publisher or that there was an annual fee. Nor does she understand what 64 vs 32 even means. Or that version control is lost. MS and their sales channels have clearly left most of their users in the dark. And the QA thing George mentioned is a real problem as well.

Brave new world now.


Posted by: WildBird Sep 10 2019, 07:41 PM

I am a contractor, so I work at client sites, dont do any development work at home, so I use what the client has. Cuts out a lot of issues with references, and so many versioning issues.

People ask what about support when I finish? I only provide support up till contract finishes. A couple of recent projects I suggested, quite strongly, that they put the source files I used, onto a USB drive, and fire it into the sun!. Not that my code was bad, but the way they setup a project was terrible, and I had to build around it. Suggested new architecture to do it properly, but not sure what they ended up doing - was Govt job and had elections coming up and so no one was sure of what was happening. Current job is a migration, a one off, and the same. Anyway, I digress.

Agree with using lowest denominator if possible, otherwise get virtual machines and try to replicate client sites so easier to support.

Not a fan of any subscription service. I often am without decent internet, and dont like idea of needing internet to do stuff. Prefer static programs.

Posted by: tina t Sep 10 2019, 07:42 PM

well, it's a brilliant marketing strategy on Microsoft's part - the result is that they've been able to convince many of their customers to do their beta testing for them, and pay Microsoft for that dubious privilege! :( tina

Posted by: DanielPineault Sep 10 2019, 08:31 PM

And we have a winner!

Tina's right on the $$$, you pay for the subscription service, do Microsoft QA for free, and give all your data to MS for them to do as they please as part of the EULA you agree to when you install the software (but no one actually reads, little alone understands that stuff anyways). They are brilliant, no question there!

Posted by: pere_de_chipstick Sep 11 2019, 08:35 AM

Just to add a my 2cents.gif

I would not risk allowing MS to update my development copy of Access - I'd soon lose all my clients if the updates no longer worked on their PCs using an older Access version. I remain with the earliest version of Access that my clients use, until MS no longer support it, or I need a specific new feature, when I can upgrade to the latest version in a planned and controlled manner.

The other advantage is that this is significantly cheaper than paying out a monthly subscription, when only a very few of the new features are ever of any benefit to my clients.


Posted by: DanielPineault Sep 11 2019, 08:39 AM

Sadly, now, they are forcing updates and you can't really stop the process, defer maybe, but not really stop it.

MS is making things very difficult to manage.

Posted by: tina t Sep 11 2019, 05:44 PM

OMG, MS is becoming HAL! ;)

Posted by: appro Sep 11 2019, 08:17 PM

Office 365 has an option to disable updates. Does this do what it says and does it keep updates disabled until they are enabled again by the user?

Posted by: isladogs Sep 12 2019, 03:01 AM

I may be wrong here but I believe that the ability to disable Office 365 updates through the account options is a fairly recent change.
You've always been able to prevent individual updates running ...though of course they keep coming back...

However, according to the info provided, you can now switch off Office 365 updates completely.

Whereas with Windows 10, you can defer for a limited time depending on whether its a feature update or security update (100 or 35 days IIRC) but cannot stop updates completely

Posted by: projecttoday Sep 12 2019, 07:02 AM

So if you're using Office 365 and your internet is not working can you develop in Access? Can you use your existing Access databases?

Posted by: DanielPineault Sep 12 2019, 07:11 AM

So if you're using Office 365 and your internet is not working can you develop in Access? Can you use your existing Access databases?

As I stated, if Office 365 can't call home after 30 days (I believe) the applications shut down and will no longer work.

I had built a VM with it and with no Network for security reason due to the nature of work I was doing for a client. One day, I got a warning and Office no longer worked. The only fix is to allow network access for it to call home. It's a pain and a serious security issue for certain work environments.

Whereas with Windows 10, you can defer for a limited time depending on whether its a feature update or security update (100 or 35 days IIRC) but cannot stop updates completely

I just had Windows 10 ask to perform an update and declined right now, and it still proceeded, an hour and a half later I had been upgraded to 1903. The last major upgrade reset all sort of privacy settings (so I have to review everything, again). Since 1903, VPN no longer works, background changed, ... and they wonder why people are looking for alternative!

Posted by: projecttoday Sep 12 2019, 07:21 AM

So even if the internet is down you can use and modify the database for 30 days.

If you decide you don't want Office 365 can you copy your database and convert into an ordinary .accdb and use it with desktop Access?

Posted by: DanielPineault Sep 12 2019, 07:26 AM

Access 365 still use accdb, so there is nothing to covert if you switch back to say 2016, 2013. Access 365 is a standard desktop version. 2016, 2019 , ... are just perpetual licensed version and O365 is a subscription based version, but they are all one and the same installation desktop software.
Yes, it will work for a period of time without Internet access. Could you imagine it not working at all without continuous Internet access! Maybe in the next release!!! ohyeah.gif

Posted by: projecttoday Sep 12 2019, 08:04 AM

So then Office 365 is automatic updates. And if you turn off the updates as was mentioned just a couple of posts ago what is left?

Posted by: DanielPineault Sep 12 2019, 08:48 AM

It's not been that simple to date. Up until now, because of bugs, you needed the updates, that then introduced new bugs. See where this is going! It a cat and mouse game, trying to find the most stable release. It's been one thing after another. That is why I stay with A2010 and A2013 for most of my work.

We haven't gotten into release channels, ...

I'm going to stop here.

Posted by: JonSmith Sep 13 2019, 03:09 AM

Its basically the same across the whole of Office, not just access. For example a few months ago I turned on my O365 updates for Outlook as they had been turned off by default in my organisation.
I got some cool new features like extra time zones in my calendar, a new style but it also completely killed a super buggy COM addin in our organisation for booking rooms (great excuse for me to not book meetings now tongue.gif).

Access is the same, one day some new features can just tank existing functionality, luckily you can disable them on a machine used as a dev environment but you can't convince your clients to do so on their normal machines. There is an argument for maintaining both a base Access 2019 version without new features and an O365 with all the new bells and whistles and bugs.

You also need to be super wary of the false idea that a .accdb will work on 2007 updates. Its not as simple as that.
For example if you open a database in Access 2010 and edit a form to add a layout option you can have 'empty cells' in that layout. Go back to that database in 2007 and open that form and Access will crash hard. Remove the layout in 2010 and try again, still crashes hard because of artifacts left in the Form. You can manually edit them out by exporting the form to a text file and isolating the 'bad' lines and re-importing but its a huge chore (if you cant tell I have done this around 5-6 years ago).
There is absolutely no reason to assume this was an isolated example and that by editing a .accdb in O365 you dont introduce an artifact to a form or report that becomes very difficult to remove and causes those forms to crash in earlier versions.

I cannot see any reliable catch all solution here. Sticking on 2010 or 2013 etc risks your stuff breaking due to new features interfering as with the COM addin example.. Using the latest O365 means you risk your work not working on older versions and not being backwards compatible.

Posted by: DanielPineault Sep 13 2019, 05:57 AM

All I can say is that in all my years I have never experienced such unreliable, buggy, problematic experience as I have since Access 2016/Office 365 came out! I used to track bugs on my blog and stopped as it was taking up too much of my time since A2016/O365 came out. I outright lost my biggest client to continual issues/downtime cause by buggy O365 as they moved completely away from MS products in frustration and I recently finished migrating another major client away from Access, which they had be solely running for 7+ years to manage their entire business, due to O365 bugs breaking, and thousands of $$$ in downtime because of update bugs that paralyzed them from working. One such example was: the client walking into their office in the morning and Access won't work because of an update that got pushed during the night and then having 12 employee twiddling the thumbs for hours and hours. I advise my own client to stay away from 2016+ and O365. IMHO, you are doing yourself a favor sticking with a static/mature product such as 2010 or 2013.

And we haven't even gotten into discussing bitness, update channels, automatic updates, no GUI for managing update (say hello to DOS again!), ... and the average user is supposed to be good with all this, seriously?!

I, myself, remain primarily running Access 2010 and 2013 and both have been stable (with regard to Access) for quite some time and have never had issues, this is why this is what I professionally recommend.

Posted by: Digmen1 Sep 18 2019, 12:54 PM

I'm just a casual amateur home user of Access and I have lots of access data bases.
I'm using Office 365 the yearly subscription version on my PC.
I just wish the MS would do some more work on Aces.
Progress is glacial
I use the MS Feedback option, there are many good suggestions and bug reports.
But their standard reply is "The Access team is looking at this"
How many people are in the Access Team, 1, 2, 5 or 10 or is it just a bot?

Posted by: DanielPineault Sep 18 2019, 01:00 PM

A few members, not sure of the total number, but I don't think Access has been a priority for many years now. I think like pretty much all companies, they are spread thin.

The Feedback/UserVoice are a waste of time, the stats just don't lie:

It sad, because if they listened more, the product would be so much more evolved and what people want and are asking for. Instead they have let their competitors pull ahead on many fronts while they stood still on most fronts (we still have the same SQL editor as 20 years ago, the VBE hasn't evolved since before I can remember, ...). But more than anything, it's the instability of Win/Office that are their biggest issue right now! Businesses can't afford the type of downtime being caused by their complete lack of QA.

Posted by: WildBird Sep 18 2019, 06:42 PM

Just following this thread. I am often living without internet and like to be able to have a stand alone system. My new laptop has Office 365. Currently living in a 'proper' city and have WiFi at home, however this could change at any stage, i.e. I might move again. Is there any way to get an older version that DOESNT require any internet connection?

I very rarely use Access on it, but is a nice to have (I much prefer to work at a client site and use their infrastructure), but I do need Word so I can keep my resume up to date and apply for jobs etc.

Posted by: DanielPineault Sep 18 2019, 08:01 PM

Is there any way to get an older version that DOESNT require any internet connection?

You need to turn towards Amazon or otherwise trustworthy vendors.

Just as an example (I believe 2013 doesn't require to call home, but you should validate this fact):