Access could be made into a more user-friendly software. I need Access, but don't use it. It's too hard. Any relational db with the right UI can do what Seth is talking about, so I don't understand why it's such a big deal for someone to create something more user friendly than Access, with Access.
I see what you're saying. But what if I were to say that IMHO the biggest problem with Access is
its UI? And furthermore, the reason why it's so difficult for you has absolutely nothing to do with Access per se
Access databases are supposedly easy to create. But from what I've seen, although they may be easy to bash together and get running, they're difficult to modify - and a huge nightmare to debug if something goes wrong.
I've often likened an Access database app to one of those nested Chinese puzzle boxes. Code behind forms, settings behind settings dialogs! To my poor brain, the UI not only gets in the way - it also obscures things. And I'm not alone in thinking that. From what I've been told, many Access developers find it's easier to just 'rewrite' a screwed up Access app than to debug it. And why is that? It's because Access attempts to shield the users (and developer!) from the underlying complexities of database design and programming. And by doing so, they throw out the baby with the bath water.
The point I'm trying to make is that some things - like relational databases - are not something that can be simplified beyond a certain point. No matter what the development tool, you still need to understand what a relational database is; the basic underlying logic behind how it works; and what it's best used for. Access, by itself, can't teach you any of that.
Then comes the issue of relational database design. What information do you want to track. How will you break it down. What types of fields, procedures, and reports can best give you what you want, in the most efficient manner, while at the same addressing the quirks and limitations of your chosen RDBMS?
Anyone who has ever taken a crack at designing a database soon discovers it's as much an art as it is a science. And that holds true no matter what RDBMS you're working with. Because underneath all the nifty development tools and feature sets, they all
work the same.
And because of that, I firmly believe that what Microsoft attempts to do with the Access UI is largely misguided and somewhat misleading.
Access can make it easier to implement a database solution once you understand how to develop one. But it can't actually design or write one for you. And what's really annoying to me is that a lot of the marketing behind Access implies that it can.
When people say they want to like Access but find it difficult, I don't think that Access itself is the problem. The real problem is how to design an effective relational database solution. And I don't know of anything that can make that process what I'd call "easy."
In a nutshell: To use Access, you'll need to learn something about DB design. Maybe not a lot. But you'll still need to learn a few things
before you can expect Access to do something for you.
40hz, please understand that to us clueless end users, computers are just things made by people, and sometimes we don't see why people cannot create what we consider to be basic features. We don't know they're techie pipe dreams. We just know we have a lot of little programs all over our PC becuause we cannot get what we need from one program. Close this, open that, update this, uninstall that...we see computers doing things much, much more complex than this, every day. We fly people to the moon, perform surgeries, we even have artificial intelligence, so what's the problem with linking data? Given what computers are capable of, and with one missing feature in every single piece of similar software discussed, I, too, am pretty frustrated, even if my idea of smart computing differs slightly from the writer's.
Understood. And be assured, you guys are far from clueless. Unfortunately, what you're asking for often cuts right to the heart of most of what's wrong with the current state of 'computer science.'
Marvin Minsky (one of the founding fathers of AI) once complained that there were far too many smart people working on the "easy problems" (like designing a 'better' word processor) while most of the real problems were largely being ignored. Truth is, many of the fundamental questions in computer science have yet to receive definitive answers. And for better or worse, most people 'outside the profession' are unaware of that.
I also think Minsky's complaint has equal bearing on disciplines other than computer science.
Yes, we sent people to the moon. But until the real details came out a few years ago, most people though that accomplishment went off like clockwork. The real truth is that the records show that NASA was damn lucky half of the time. The devil is in the details.
And yes, we perform surgeries. But even there, despite all the advances in medicine, we still loose surgical patients through oversights, gross errors, and complications. It's also ironic the number of patients who survive surgery only to succumb to infections that were gotten in the hospital during recovery. And here we thought we understood the concept of sterile procedures
. Yet again, the devil is in the details.
And AI? AFAIK we still don't really have that, although that hasn't stopped corporate marketing departments from slapping the term on anything that implements some sort of decision tree within the code.
So when it comes to what computers are capable of, I think it's important to remember there's a huge gap between capabilities and implementations. Once again, the devil is in the details.
Hmmm...looks like there's a pattern is emerging here.