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Guide to Upgrading Your Version of Access Options
JustinH
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 3:59:54 PM

Rank: SageKey Staff
Groups: Administration

Joined: 12/11/2009
Posts: 2
Location: Canada
Guide to Upgrading Your Version of Access

The recent release of Windows 7 and Office 2010 Beta has increased many people’s interest in upgrading their Access applications to a newer version of Access. If you are one of these people and you would like us to assist you in your upgrade, please visit our site: SageKey Software - Database Applications. We are experienced Access developers who focus on providing quality service and products.

This article's purpose is to help you understand the upgrade process of an Access application to a newer version of Access. There are several possible benefits to upgrading your Access application including:

  • Compatibility with current and future versions of Windows
  • Appearance and style that matches the more modern Window's look
  • Using a custom Ribbon instead of a menu bar and toolbars

For someone to upgrade an existing Access application to a newer version of Access on their own, there is two major hurdles: changes required to make the application compatible with the new version of Access, and learning how to use the new version of Access.


Converting an Existing Access Application to Access 2003

If you are considering upgrading from Access 97 or 2000 to Access 2007 or 2010, it's recommended that you first convert the project to be compatible with Access 2003. For information on how to convert an Access application to be Access 2003 compatible, see the following site: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/access/HP051863781033.aspx. It's possible that converting your Access application to be compatible with Access 2003 will occur quite smoothly. For information on possible conversion problems or usability issues to be avoided in Access 2003, see the following site: http://www.allenbrowne.com/ser-48.html. As is suggested on this site, it's important that your copy of Access 2003 has the latest updates to help eliminate some possible problems.

Once you have your project saved in a format compatible with Access 2003, you can then save the file as a Access 2007 file. Some of the potential pitfalls of this conversion are covered in the next section.

When upgrading some Access applications, it may be possible to skip the conversion to Access 2003 and go straight to an Access 2007 file. However if you have any problems doing so, it would be best to first convert your application to Access 2003 and then to Access 2007.

Incase you are considering converting your Access application to Access 2003 and selling it with the Access 2003 Runtime, you will need to purchase the rights to distribute the Runtime. See the following site for details: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/access/ha011208861033.aspx. Depending on the features used in your application, it may be possible to distribute your application with the Access 2007 Runtime which can be freely distributed: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=d9ae78d9-9dc6-4b38-9fa6-2c745a175aed&displaylang=en


Converting Existing Access 2003 Projects to Access 2007

The first big difference between the two versions of Access is a change in file formats. Access 2003 files are stored in files with the extension MDB, where as Access 2007 files are stored in files with the extension ACCDB. Access 2007 allows opening Access 2003 database files, as well as creating MDB databases using the 'Save As' feature. However if you create an Access 2007 database and try to save it in an Access 2003 compatible format, you are likely to have problems due the possible inclusion of features used in Access 2007 which are not available in Access 2003. If you may need to use your project in Access 2003, I'd strongly suggest saving the project using the Access 2003 MDB file format from the beginning of the project, and if some features from Access 2007 are required, convert the project to the Access 2007 ACCDB file format.

Any new Access 2007 feature that you may want to use in your project would require you to convert an Access 2003 project to the Access 2007 ACCDB file format. Also, there are a few features that are not available in the ACCDB format that are available in the Access 2003 file format. These features include:

  • Custom Menu Bar and Toolbars
  • Data Access Pages
  • Database Replication
  • User-Level Security

If you need to use any of these Access 2003 features, you will need to keep your project saved as an MDB file which also works in Access 2007.

Custom Menu Bar and Toolbars:
In Access 2003, custom menu bars and toolbars were common features of Access applications. In Access 2007, these features have been replaced with a customizable tabbed interface known as the Ribbon. Unfortunately, the Ribbon is not as easily customizable as you are used to with the old style menu bars and toolbars. The term Ribbon is used for the custom menu created for your Access applications, as well as for the menu displayed in Access 2007 while you are developing Access applications. Both uses of the Ribbon are customizable and are essentially the same thing. If you are interested in having a custom Ribbon created, this is one of the many services provided by our company SageKey Software - Database Applications. Further information about the Ribbon is given in the next section of this article.

Data Access Pages:
These are essentially web pages that can use data stored in an Access database. You can still view your Data Access Pages through Access 2007 if you save your database as a MDB file. However, when you click to open the page, it will now open them in Microsoft Internet Explorer instead of inside Access. Also, you cannot create or make design changes to Data Access Pages using Access 2007. When you try to open your Data Access Pages, you may receive a warning telling you to install the Office XP Web Components library. This library is not installed by Access 2007, but is required to open Data Access pages as well as some functionality for PivotTables and PivotCharts. To install the Office XP Web Components, see the following link: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=36954. For more information on Data Access Pages in Access 2007, see the following site: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/access/HA100308321033.aspx

Database Replication:
This feature allows you to duplicate your database to provide improved data integrity and availability. If you need to use database replication in Access 2007, you must save your application as a MDB file.

User-Level Security:
Allows the programmer to choose which users can view or edit specific data. To use this feature in Access 2007, you must save your application as a MDB file. The only security feature that Access 2007 offers is an encryption tool that encrypts your database's data so the data cannot be read by other programs and users must enter a password to use the database. An alternative is to use Microsoft SQL Server for the database and then create queries, forms and reports in Access. However, this would require most Access developers to learn a lot more about SQL. For more information on user-level security in Access 2007, see the following site: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/access/HA102345611033.aspx

For the last three Access 2007 exclusions, Microsoft suggests using Microsoft SharePoint Services as a potential solution. It seems to me that Microsoft wants more of its users to use Microsoft SharePoint Services, so they are removing SharePoint's competition from Access. However, using SharePoint Services would involve some big changes in how your application works and is used. For more information on SharePoint Services for Access 2007, see the following site: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/access/HA101314631033.aspx

It is also important to note that ACCDB files cannot be opened by older versions of Access. For more information on converting an Access 2003 project to Access 2007, see the following sites:


Learning How to Use Access 2007

Using Access 2007 to develop applications is quite different than using prior versions of Access due to the dramatic changes in the style of the menu. All prior versions of Access use a menu bar. When a menu bar's item is clicked on, a drop-down menu appears with all of the sub items available. Access 2007 has done away with the menu bar and replaced it with a tabbed menu, commonly known as the Ribbon.

The Ribbon gives you access to many commands, which are separated into tabs based on purpose. The commands on each tab are further sub-divided into groups of similar commands. To change the commands displayed on the Ribbon, simply click on a different tab. A handy feature of the Ribbon is you can switch between tabs by placing the mouse cursor over top of the Ribbon and moving the mouse wheel.

One concern many people have about the Ribbon, is how much more screen space it occupies compared to the old menu bar style. A feature that helps improve this issue is the Ribbon's auto-hide attribute which is enabled by double-clicking on the currently selected tab. If the Ribbon is currently hidden, it can be displayed again by clicking on one of the tabs. However, once you click on something off of the Ribbon, the Ribbon will be automatically hidden again. To make the Ribbon stay visible, just double-click on one of the tabs.

You will probably notice quite quickly that the Ribbon does not have a File tab. Instead, Microsoft chose to put a big round button in the top left corner which is referred to as the Office button. I don't know the motivation behind the change, but it is basically the same as Access 2003's File menu. For Office 2010, Microsoft changed from the Office button, back to the File menu. I believe it was a smart choice.

Another interesting feature of the Ribbon is it can be customized. You can add any commands that are not on the default Ribbon, remove commands you never use and reorganize the commands in any manner you like. However, this does take some programming knowledge and use of add-ons or third party controls. If you are interested in having a custom Ribbon created for you, this is one of the many services our company SageKey Software provides.

A possible alternative to customizing the Ribbon for Access development, is to add often used Access commands to the Quick Access toolbar. This toolbar is the Microsoft Office version of the Windows Quick Launch toolbar. Commands that you often use can be easily added to this toolbar. You will find this toolbar in the top-left corner of the screen, just to the right of the Office button.

If you have troubles finding commands in Access 2007, but know how to find them in Access 2003, Microsoft has an interactive guide which helps you find the new home of many commands. The guide first displays a simulated Access 2003 window which includes the menu bar and standard toolbar. By placing the mouse pointer over any menu item in the Access 2003 window, a tool tip is displayed that gives you instructions on how to use the guide or where to find that particular command in Access 2007. For many of the menu items, you can also click on them and a simulated Access 2007 window will be displayed to show you exactly where to find the selected feature. When finished with that command, click anywhere to return to the Access 2003 window. This guide can be found from the following website: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/access/HA102388991033.aspx

If you are looking for a guide to introduce you to how to use Access 2007, see this site http://www.functionx.com/vbaccess/Lesson01.htm. This guide is very thorough and includes many screen shots.


Converting Existing Access 2007 Projects to Access 2010

We expect there to be few problems when converting Access applications between 2007 and 2010 due to only minor changes in how the two Access versions work. If you open an Access 2007 project in Access 2010 and add any features that are new to Access 2010, you will only have limited viewing and editing abilities to your application through Access 2007. Also, there are three new features in Access 2010 that use cause any application which uses them to not be even viewable through Access 2007. These three features are: new sort orders, new encryption and publishing your application to SharePoint. For more information, see the following site: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/office/cc907897.aspx


Access 2010 Beta

A Beta version of Microsoft Office 2010 was released for testing in November 2009 and this Microsoft site says they intend to have the final Office 2010 release in the first half of 2010. http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2009/nov09/11-18PDCKurtDelBene.mspx. The following site claims a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that Office 2010 will be released in June of this year: http://www.betanews.com/article/Confirmed-Office-2010-to-ship-in-June/1259616600

According to Microsoft’s Access 2010 website http://www.microsoft.com/office/2010/en/access/default.aspx, there are several new features which will make developing Access applications easier and faster including:

  • Easier to use Expression Builder
  • Easier and more powerful Macro Designer
  • Color and design themes for your whole database
  • Viewing and Editing Access applications through a web browser using SharePoint Server 2010


Microsoft Online Services has a SharePoint Service that allows Office 2010 users to try Office 2010's SharePoint features, without having to install SharePoint Server 2010. SharePoint Server is well known as a difficult program to install and must be installed on its computer. At the time this article was written, Microsoft Online Services has a 30 day trial period where you can try out their services for free: http://www.microsoft.com/online/default.mspx. I've also found a second hosting site for SharePoint 2010: http://accesshosting.com/

You may find using Access 2010 SharePoint features useful as they allow you to use your Access applications over the internet. By using Access and SharePoint together, you can create web applications which would take much longer using other web development techniques. This site shows how you could take an existing Access 2007 desktop based application, add some Access 2010 web forms to allow some of your programs functionality to be used over the internet, while still retaining your Access 2007 desktop functionality: http://blogs.msdn.com/access/archive/2010/01/12/the-access-show-publish-a-access-2007-database-to-sharepoint.aspx. However, as the official version of Office 2010 isn't expected to be released until June, production development will have to wait at least until then.

There are few features that will not be supported in Access 2010 that were in Access 2007. These features include:

  • Calendar Control (not the DatePicker)
  • Snapshot format
  • Data Access Pages
  • Paradox, Lotus 1-2-3, Red 2 and Jet 2 data file linking support
  • Replication conflict Viewer

For more information these removed features and some alternative solutions, see the following site: http://blogs.msdn.com/access/archive/2010/01/09/access-2010-deprecated-features-and-components.aspx

Our companies Access Deployment Tools will be compatible with the final release of Access 2010. This deployment tool has many benefits including:

  • Quickly and easily builds an installation routine
  • Eliminates the repair process and dialogs during installation of your Access application
  • Bundles the Access Runtime and any other necessary install files with your Access application and creates an executable or EXE file.


Closing Remarks

Upgrading your Access application to a newer version of Access can be a challenging and time-consuming task. Each Access application upgrade provides a different set of challenges. If you are interested in utilizing SageKey’s vast experience in this area and saving yourself or your company a major headache , please contact us by phone or email: http://www.sagekey.com/company_contact.aspx


Additional Access Sources

If you are looking for additional general information about creating Access applications, see the following site: http://www.accessmvp.com/strive4peace/. It has eight PDF files which are free to download and cover many Access topics. They are extremely well written, easy to understand articles and are loaded with great tips.
TerryC
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 5:28:10 PM
Rank: Member
Groups: Member

Joined: 10/23/2009
Posts: 8
Location: Canada
Very informative, thanks!
DanB
Posted: Monday, January 25, 2010 9:07:27 PM
Rank: New Poster
Groups: Member

Joined: 11/3/2009
Posts: 1
Location: United States
Informative; alot of info here. Thanks for sharing your insite
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