What is Microsoft Access?

The fact is, most people don't understand what Microsoft Access is. That includes most developers. This fact struck me in particular at the start of a recent project overhauling a collection of legacy Access applications. Naturally the end users were pretty murky on what Access was, they just knew they had to open Access to get to their applications. The business analyst who had been managing a lot of configuration and building queries and reports was certainly not a developer, and was not well versed in how Access applications are (or can be) architected. My colleague and lead on the project, a competent and experienced developer in both .Net and hardware control languages, also hadn't really seen Access since college, where it was just presented as a "little database" for teaching RDBMS concepts.

I ended up spending a hour and a half giving my developer colleague a crash course in what Access really is, from my perspective, and how Access application development should be done. That gave us a much better common foundation to begin planning our project. Despite the ubiquity of Microsoft Access I believe this understanding is as rare as it is useful. And so I begin a series here on Access fundamentals from a developer's perspective. We'll start today with the most basic question: What is Microsoft Access?

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