Why MS Access Application Developers Should Be Ashamed

If you have written what you consider to be an application in Microsoft Access, you should be ashamed of yourself.  MS Access is not a developer-friendly environment.  Not even a little bit.

You might think, “oh, but I’m just making this simple little application, and it’s not going to be used for very long.”  Wrong.  The company you made it for is going to use it until the amount of money they’re spending on maintenance vastly overshadows the amount it would cost to create a real application to replace it.

“No, that’s silly,” you might think, “I told them this thing won’t scale.”

Well, kudos to you for realizing that MS Access is a pile of crap, and for realizing it doesn’t scale.  But the company isn’t going to do anything about it.  Because if it ain’t broke in a way that costs a lot of money, don’t fix it.

“I told them I’ll rewrite it as soon as I have time.”

You’re never going to have time.  Once this thing gets put to use, you’re going to spend all your time fixing it.

Eventually, you’ll leave the company, probably because the pain of maintaining that application was too stressful.  That’s where I come in.  And I hate you for doing this to me.

That’s right, I’m the guy that gets hired to maintain the pile of shit you left behind.  And guess what?  The company has no money to spend on creating a real application, because they’ve spent all of it maintaining that thing.

Without further ado, here’s a few of the many, many, many reasons why MS Access isn’t developer-friendly:

  1.  Source code can’t be maintained.  Go ahead, tell me there is–and prove to me that you’ve used them successfully.
  2. Debugging is a joke.  If the application gets closed, all those breakpoints are gone, and trying to step through it is like scalping yourself and then replacing your own hair with individual strands of silk from a black widow spider.
  3. Changing the code will RESET THE PROJECT.  So those breakpoints you spent an hour setting are ALL GONE.
  4. Only one developer can work on it at a time (see #1).  If more attempt to, the result will be that somebody’s change will get overwritten.  But neither will know who did it, what’s missing, or why.
  5. The source code is obscure, difficult to access, and can be password-protected.  Because that’s a good idea.
  6. You have to know the application’s “secrets” to develop on it (like holding <shift> while opening the file)
  7. Pretty much any programming language that still uses “GoTo” should not be used anymore.

If you’re thinking about writing an application in MS Access: DON’T.