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Microsoft Access Database Development


Microsoft (MS) Access is only one of many database solutions available to our developers. To decide whether or not MS Access is the tool for your company's data management, click on the following links.

Reasons to use MS Access
Reasons to use professional developers
Reasons to use Aircross Ltd
How does the development process work?

Reasons to use MS Access

MS Access is a component of the Microsoft Office suite of programs and is therefore part of the most popular and widespread desktop system in the world. Microsoft products will be supported for many years to come so you can have confidence that the software in which your company has invested will not become redundant.

No additional software needs to be purchased for any workstation on which Microsoft Office Professional has been installed.

Being a component of Microsoft Office, data may be imported and exported seamlessly from MS Access to other Office applications such as Word and Excel. Interfaces to Access are also available from non-Microsoft suppliers.  

As a consequence of its widespread popularity, MS Access has more consultants available than any other desktop database system. Consultancy rates are therefore correspondingly lower.

MS Access lends itself to rapid development of complex systems and is therefore significantly to implement and maintain than its competitors.

MS Access is an excellent prototyping tool that may be used to establish the functionality of a database development before upsizing it to interface with existing corporate databases held as Oracle or SQL Server tables.

Sometimes MS Access is not the most appropriate database to use. If you intend to have a high number of concurrent users (for example, more than 20 people accessing the database at the same time), a very large volume of data (over 1 million records per table), a need to enter data rapidly, or require a high level of security, another solution might be more appropriate, usch as using Microsoft SQL Server data tables with either a Visual Basic or an Access front end to provide the user interface. Aircross Ltd will be happy to provide impartial advice on the best choice of database to meet your own business needs.

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Reasons to use professional developers

The popularity of MS Access and its user-friendly interface may lead inexperienced designers to design solutions that fall short of recognised industry standards. Such databases may contain redundant data, be  inefficient and difficult or frustrating to use. Unfortunately, if the database subsequently becomes corrupt, or slows to  a halt, the only solution that remains is to hire an experienced consultant to recover the data and rewrite the database to professional standards.

Typical mistakes include:

Creating poorly structured data tables that may contain: 

A single monolithic table that includes every single item of company related information,  instead of a properly normalized set of linked tables that results in a more efficient database.   
Duplicated records within the same table (the absence of a properly defined primary key).
The same pieces of data replicated across two or more tables, leading to an extra maintenance overhead and an increased likelihood of corrupt records.

Poor form layout and colouring. The human eye prefers pastel shades to vibrant colours, and finds it easier to process a few, tidily formatted items on a page rather than scores of items that are spread around it in a haphazardly manner. 

An over-reliance on macros and MS Access wizards to achieve functionality, usually symptomatic of the developer having insufficient knowledge of coding techniques. Often it is the Visual Basic code lying behind the forms that is the secret to robust, high-performance database operation. Avoid at all costs the developer who states that properly written Access databases should not need to use Visual Basic code - this is misguided thinking.

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Reasons to use Aircross Ltd

Poor knowledge of SQL (Structured Query Language, which is used for communicating with the data tables themselves) will lead to a database that performs inefficiently and, in extreme circumstances involving large amounts of data, may not perform at all.

Our database developers have been involved in IT industry for over 20 years and are familiar with best practice techniques in software design. Whilst we regularly undergo training in the latest packages, we do recognise that some programming techniques do not change. There are ways of writing efficient code that have been proven over many years - we do not develop new techniques at your expense.   
 
We have experience of MS Access right back to its inception during the early 1980s. The most common flavours at the current time are Access 95, 97, 2000 and 2002 XP, and we have experience in all of them.
We are able to create database solutions that can meet both your immediate and long term needs.
 
If your business needs a simple solution to solve non-critical issues, we can provide a value database quickly and at minimal cost using rapid-development facilities provided by Microsoft. Such a solution might suit users who have some database abilities themselves and who are willing to accept some of the limitations imposed by such techniques.

If your company depends on the development of a robust, complex database to continue its business,  you may opt for a 'black-box' solution that performs exactly as you want it to. Such a database will allow non-IT specialists to operate it with no concerns about whether your data will become corrupted, either by accident or malicious intent. We may find it appropriate and cost-effective to provide initially a partially-functional prototype solution using rapid development techniques for your approval and then go on to develop the final version from the prototype.

You may have a legacy system, perhaps written in DOS and no longer supported, or a system on a mainframe which expense you can no longer justify. We can convert these into user-friendly MS Access solutions to meet your precise needs. If data migration from the old system to the new is required, this will be included as part of the development.

The programming support for your existing MS Access system may no longer be available. We are familiar with many versions of Access and can offer support on a time and materials basis.

Perhaps you are developing a database yourselves and simplt need a little assistance to solve an undocumented problem. We will be happy to provide assistance at reasonable cost. Please contact us with your requirements.

We guarantee our code. If errors are detected they will be fixed free of charge. Similarly, in the unlikely event that the performance and functions of the delivered product do not match your written requirements, corrections will be applied at our expense.

We are flexible and understand that your requirements may change over time, perhaps even within the system's development period. We endeavour to create enough flexibility within the developing product to allow us to make changes quickly and at minimal expense. The costs of any deviations from the written specification will be borne by yourselves - cost and time estimates will be provided for your approval before such work is carried out. 

After delivery, we will provide telephone support at no extra cost. If a site visit is required, or if extra development is required to meet your requirements, we will supply this at our normal rates.

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How does the development process work?

The scope and outline of your project will be established during a preliminary meeting. 

We will provide a written specification overview of our understanding of the project and our estimates of cost and system delivery date. If the proposed development is large or complex, we will make a charge for writing the specification. If you choose to proceed with Aircross Ltd, the charge will be deducted from the final cost. If you choose to proceed with another developer, the specification is yours and you will be free to use it as you please.
  
If you authorise us to proceed, we will agree a set of deliverables and payment terms as described in our Terms & Conditions
 
We encourage you to participate in the development cycle by involving you at key stages in the development. We find that we are able to trap and deal with any discrepancies far more effectively be letting you see the product and the progress that has been made to date. 

We keep detailed timesheets of all work done on your system and these will be presented on request. Any particular problems encountered that lead to delays and unexpected costs will be fully documented.  

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