Convert Access Database to Web Application

Migrate legacy Access systems to the cloud

migrate from MS Access to mobile-ready Web Application

Access vs Cloud

Do you have an MS Access Database and are you exploring options to convert it to a web-based application?

Some general assumptions about MS Access:

  • It's only suitable for a relatively small number of concurrent users
  • It is limited to local networks
  • It has slow performance on larger data sets
  • It has a lack of scalability
  • It has locking issues with multiple users
  • It could be maintained by an employee who is retiring and nobody else knows application internals
  • Not suitable for efficient remote work (via Remote Desktop Connection, for example)

We have huge experience in creating and maintaining Access-based applications and we understand that Access is a very convenient tool in particular cases.

However, there are strong trends towards web-based applications rather than platform-specific applications like MS Access.

What are the benefits of web-based applications?

  • Instant availability. Almost any device with a browser can run it.
  • Multi-user. All users can work with the application in parallel, easily collaborate.
  • Much simpler deployment and support. Update server code and all clients will automatically use the latest version.
  • Ideal for remote work

How to convert MS Access database to Web application?

So, what can we do with legacy MS Access databases?
Are there any ways to convert or migrate an old desktop database to a web-based application?

The answer is "possible, but not easy".

Generally, the steps to convert MS Access database to web-based are:

  1. Import or migrate data from Access tables into MS SQL Server (alternatively MySQL or any other DBMS).
    No need to buy full SQL Server, usually free SQL Server Express edition is more than enough.
    There is a good tool for that - SQL Server Migration Assistant for Access.
    Watch out for Incompatible Access Features!

  2. Recreate Queries as Views
    Queries are used quite widely in MS Access, but the Migration Assistant will only help to convert SELECT queries, and even then, it will not convert all of them.
    Just because Access queries could contain parameters from the linked forms or human entries. Such queries might need to be re-created from scratch. Same regarding INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE queries.

  3. Recreate Forms
    Once data is migrated to SQL Server, now you need to create a DB-backed website using your favorite programming language - ASP.NET, PHP, Node.js, Java, Python, etc...
    While re-creating forms appearance could be relatively simple using modern UI prototyping tools, forms frequently have some business logic (VB code as well as SQL queries with parameters)

  4. Recreate Reports
    Access reports need to be recreated in a similar way to Forms. Simple reports based on one query are easy to do with existing tools/libraries of the language you selected. However complex reports have to be created from scratch.
    Also, if you need to export your reports to Excel or PDF, you will need to use another library.

  5. Rewrite custom VB code
    MS Access uses Visual Basic as a programming language, so you will need to rewrite that in your programming language.
    Don't forget - MS Access could contain code in macros and modules that are not directly related to specific forms or reports.

As you can see each step might not be straight forward: data might need to be restructured, Forms and Reports are complicated, and VB code is cumbersome.

Are there any services to automate migration?

Currently, there are no automatic converters that can do that for you.

But we can retire your Access applications and we know how to do it right. We can provide:

  • SQL Server backed database (with the option for MySQL)
  • Modern, ASP.NET based website (with the option for PHP)
  • Mobile-enabled screens (you'll be able to work with forms on smartphones, tablets or desktops)
  • Strong, Secure, Single sign-on user authentication with flexible access rights ability
  • Easy user management for an unlimited number of users
  • All your Forms
  • All your Reports
  • You will receive full source code of the website for in-house or your own cloud installation (or we could set up it on AWS for you)

We can even merge several Access databases into one single Web Application.

Contact Us and we'll help you with your MS Access database.

written by
Oleg Savchuk

Software Developer with 20+ years of experience and a passion to build good, practical, working software solutions.

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