MS-Access / Getting Started

Building a Web Database

You can build a database that can track your music collection at home one day, and the next day work on a database to track sensitive corporate data - so that you can continue to finance that music collection that's large enough to require a database.

And, like many Access developers before you, you're probably thinking, "Wow, it would be great if could put this database online so I can access it from anywhere." With the release of Microsoft Office Access 2010 and SharePoint 2010, you can. However, this comes at a cost - there are some limitations on the formatting and structure of the database. The first big limitation is this: You must deploy this application using SharePoint. We discuss other limitations throughout the rest of this tutorial.

What is a Web database?

An Access database consists of a number of objects - tables, queries, forms, reports, and macros. In Access 2010, each of these objects can be a Web object or client object. A client object is an Access object that runs on the client machine using Access. Some characteristics of client objects include the following:

  • Any object created in Access 2007 or earlier is a client object.
  • Access 2010 can create client objects for use in an Access client database.
  • Client objects have access to the full set of Access functionality - including VBA.
  • Client objects can reference Web objects.

A Web object is an Access object that is both client and server compatible publishable to a SharePoint server. In order to make this functionality possible, a Web object has some different characteristics than the client objects, such as:

  • Web objects can be created only in Access 2010 - and, we assume, every version after that.
  • Web objects have a limited subset of the functionality, compared to the corresponding client objects.
  • Web objects - with the exception of Web tables - can be referenced only by other Web objects and cannot reference client objects.
  • Web objects are visible in the browser when the database is published to the SharePoint server.
  • Web objects are limited to expressions supported by the server, and they do not support VBA.

Queries, forms, reports, and macros can either be Web objects or client objects. These objects cannot be converted from a client object to a Web object or from a Web object to a client object. However, you can save a Web object as a new client object.

Tables can also be client objects or Web objects; however, any given database can contain one or the other not both. In Access 2010, a database that contains Web tables is called a Web database, and it can contain a mix of Web and client objects. A database containing client tables is called a client database - a traditional Access database - and cannot contain any Web objects. Both types of databases are stored in the ACCDB format.

Creating a Web database

Because of the restriction of a database to contain only client tables or Web tables, you must first create a Web database. To create a blank Web database, follow these steps:

  1. Start Access 2010. The Access home screen appears.
  2. On the left side of the home screen, click New. The list of available templates appears in the center of the home screen.
  3. Under Available Templates, click Blank Web Database.
  4. In the File Name text box on the lower-right portion of the screen, enter a name for your Web database.
  5. Click the Create button. Access creates the new Web database and displays Table1 in the Access window.
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