Database Connectivity

R Baumann rynt at
Mon Oct 11 20:17:30 CEST 2004

"Anna Martelli Ravenscroft" <anna at> wrote in message
news:Bdhad.18298$b5.899971 at
> Anna Martelli Ravenscroft wrote:
> > Alex Martelli wrote:
> >
> >> Dennis Lee Bieber <wlfraed at> wrote:
> >>    ...
> >>
> >>>>> I want to develope a simple Database connectivity program with
> >>>>> I want to use MS Access as a backend.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>      Access, itself, is merely a GUI builder front-end. You are
> >>> likely using M$ JET as the database engine.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Amen!  People keep making this mistake over and over and over again.
> >> Access is a product Microsoft sells; Jet is one they give away for
> >> etc, etc -- how CAN it be so hard to distinguish?!
> >
> >
> > How can it be so hard to distinguish?
> >
> > Gee - how about - cuz M$ doesn't bother telling you? It *says* M$ Access
> > - right there on the package and on the computer. It doesn't say M$
> > Jet... I used M$ Access for years, even took classes in it, did some
> > pretty kewl stuff with it. Never was Jet mentioned anywhere at anytime.
> > I found out from a geek buddy by accident one day...
> >
> > BTW: I just did a google check:
> >
> > the Product Overview page for M$ Access 2003 doesn't mention Jet once!
> >
> >
> > Nor does the Data Access and Storage Developer Center page!
> >
> >
> > and it ain't just M$. I found a lovely page called AccesSolutions:
> > Microsoft Access Database Solutions, with not a single mention of Jet.
> >
> > In other words, if you didn't already *know*, you're damned unlikely to
> > find out until some "real" database geek gives you a hard time about not
> > knowing.
> >
> >
> > Anna
> Just to follow up on this - I think this is another case of M$ evility.
> They *like* that people think of Access as a database - cuz if people
> realized that they could use another database, they might realize they
> could also use *another* front end.
> So, I really don't think it's deliberate blurring of the lines by the
> *users* of M$ Access, so much as by M$, and the poor users simply don't
> know any better.
> I want to emphasize that I understand how frustrating it is to keep
> coming across the same myths and misunderstandings, and that is
> great for gently pointing out the real information to folks.
> Anna

I'm a database geek.  I make damn good money developing and maintaining
database apps.  And in the corporate world, a database of some sort is
pretty well THE application they're concerned with.  And, since is so
great for GENTLY pointing out the real information to folks here's the real
scoop on ms-access...

1.  Since version 1, ms-access has ALWAYS been two products, the Access
front end, and the underlying database engine, JET.  Since Access has always
been sold as a single product, the JET database engine has just naturally
been referred to as the "Access database engine".  Technically wrong, but
it's just easier to think of  it that way.  BTW, JET technology is the
current underlying database for windows itself when it needs to use a db.
(XP only I think.  This may change when longhorn is released).

The original purpose of Access, and in many cases still is, was to be a
Desktop Database that made it easy for a non-programmer user to create and
maintain their own simple contact lists, address books, etc and be able to
create and run reports against those db's.  And that worked and still works
really well for that aspect.  Developers got hold of the product, realized
they had a real good opportunity, and for years have been making a good
living from Access.  Many of the upgrades that have come from Access through
the years have been due to developer efforts working with Microsoft.
Thousands and thousands of custom data base apps have been written using
Access, some using the JET engine, some using another DB engine altogether,
like SQL Server, Sybase, MySQL, etc.

2.  Access is a total RAD programming environment that is optimized to do
ONE thing very well, build and manage databases, although it can be used to
do other things as well.  Access has ALWAYS had Forms, A query writer, table
management, database creation, a report writer(MUCH better than Crystal
IMO), and as a built-in language for getting down to the "metal" when you
have to, Visual Basic for Applications.

Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before.  BASIC ugh!, Not a real language,
etc., etc., etc.  If BASIC is not a real language, why do so many languages,
including Python have more similiarities than differences to it?  This is a
fair question.

And this is MY OPINION!  MY answer is that BASIC, with all it's perceived
bad aspects is very easy to learn and understand.  An experienced BASIC
professional programmer can do one hell'uva good job, and the code won't
look like spaghetti, and probably the app will be released  into production
with fewer errors, and much faster than a C/C++ programmer could make it
happen.  And as far as writing spaghetti code, huh!, you can do that in ANY
language, goto's or not, structured programming techniques or not.

3.  When Access 2000 was released, MS included a version of MS-SQL Server
called the MSDE(Microsoft Database Engine) that was a deliberately
watered-down version of MS-SQL Server 7.  By watered down, I mean that MSDE
could handle up to 5 concurrent PROCESSES before a governor kicked in to
deliberately slow things down.  This was to prevent MSDE being used in areas
where an industrial strength DB Server needs to be used.  A marketing issue?
You bet.  But, MSDE has been know to work very reliably in small user LANS,
and workgroups of up to about 25 users with a medium to somewhat heavy
workload.  And, if the workload is fairly light up into the hundreds.  If
the workload is light, OR, ESPECIALLY if the developer knows what they're
doing, the governor won't kick in that often. Processes can be made to be
efficient.  Unless you're a huge corporation with hundreds or thousands of
users, this is more than good enough to handle most small companies, and if
those companies grow larger, the upgrade path to full blown SQL Server is
just a simple step to attach the tables from MSDE to SQL Server.

<GASP!>  M$ sells stuff for money!  Why not?  I like to eat, you like to
eat.  Don't like Microsoft?, sounds like a personal problem to me.  I don't
like everything they do either, but to pay my salary, the company I work for
has to make money, not live on indignant or righteous attitudes.  I use
whatever works best for the particular customer I have to work with.  If MS
has a product that does what I need it to, I'll use it.  If Python is a
better way to do things, I'll use it, if QBasic, if Delphi, if...

4.  Don't like SQL Server? use ODBC.  I've done Access apps using Btrieve,
MySql, Interbase/Firebird and others as the backend data engine, and Access
as the GUI front end.  My development time in Access is 1/3 to 1/2 the time,
and with fewer errors.

5.  JET is no longer being actively enhanced.  It IS being maintained.
Eventually it will fade away, but the MSDE will still be there.  Access is
now up to version 2003 just in case anyone is interested.  MSDE is up to
version 2000 or perhaps more by now.  It's a free download from the MS
website.  There ARE some licensing issues, so pay attention to them if you
download.  Not everything in the world has to be or should be "free" or
"open source".

Don't get me wrong.  I love the idea of Open Source.  I make use of it quite
often.  My problem with it is when the primary developer gets tired of the
project, which often happens after a year or two, it generally dies because
no-one is interested in taking over, or the project stagnates.  MS never
said they were in business to produce free or open source software, and at
least they don't let their products stagnate.  It takes money to build and
maintain a Word, or an Excel, or an Access, and sometimes I absolutely need
to use a product I know is going to be around a while, and be supported.

6.  Finally, MS is positioning Access to be a GUI front-end to any database,
and the hooks are already there.  Look for a .NET version in the future.

Sorry about the long rant, but so much mis-information has been passed along
in this thread and in  past threads, mainly due to so much MS hatred,
deserved or not, that  I felt I had to speak up.  I get the impression that
most of the info comes from people parroting other people, and not really
knowing about the products that they are dis'ing.  If you're really
interested in seeing what Access CAN do, take a look in particular at the
following newsgroup:

Also look at the Microsoft Public Access newsgroups.  They all offer help
and information, some better, some worse, and sometimes it's even done as
gently and correctly as in


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