MS Access 14 (?)
Based on experience with PC FAND, MS Access 97 and MS Access 2002
You may find this document controversary but it is not what it was meant for.
It’s about programmers’ needs...
2. Old bugs to be fixed, e.g.
1. ODE, PDW, ...
2. ListBox & ComboBox bug
3. Switching between VBA-window and form-design window
4. Memo-field bug
5. Missing table description after import
6. Decimal separator (non-US versions of Access)
7. A2002: Count, Sum, ... in report footer - Access ignores sort order
8. A2002: can't execute code in break mode
9. Forms/Reports/Queries: Access 2002: Can't set RecordsetType due to poor
translation to Czech language.
10. Forms: Timer causes unpredictable errors in reports. This is a real pain and
it’s been a problem for several years! E.g. Problem printing.
11. A2002: Unknown objects (forms/reports/queries). E.g. Access 2002: another
12. Allen Browne’s Flaws in Access, see http://www.allenbrowne.com/tips.html
13. And more... see Internet forums, newsgroups, etc., e.g. UtterAccess,
microsoft.public.access.*, ... Also see some comments in Summary.
Eventually ask MVPs.
3. Pains and annoyances
1. Inter-version incompatibility, see above (ODE, PDW). Please, enhance
compatibility among different versions of Access or Access Runtime on one
1. A97 application doesn't function after A2002 app installation
2. Can't install A2002 RT SP3
3. How to update runtime files?
2. Enable PDW internationalization! I desperately need Czech install for our
customers in Czech Republic!
3. Enlarge MDB maximum size; 2GB is not enough in 21st century. 100GB
should be enough... for another 10 years...
4. Make some research on database corruption and (finally) fix the MDB-project-
corruption bugs. E.g. A2002: weird form - UNBELIEVABLE!!!, Possible Corrupt
DB? How to know...
If you are not able to fix them then think about storing project objects in ASCII-
files instead of MDB to prevent corruption. Then, ASCII-files may be compiled
to MDE as we know it... well, EXE is preferred.
1. Incomplete documentation (e.g. RunCommand, SysCmd, ...). Also see
Using Hyperlinks in Access: Display As Hyperlink and Is Hyperlink: “...and
found that the available documentation left some of my questions
2. Event evoked by a new property value. Also see A2002: Recalc bug?
3. Translate VBA environment to other languages (Czech is preferred).
4. International versions: missing documentation for original English names
(properties, menus, ...). It's very difficult to search for an appropriate help
without correct translation.
5. A2002: poorest help system ever seen:
1. Blank screens in help.
2. F1 in form/report design points to different chapters. E.g. F1 on
SetOption links to GetOption. Real pain!
3. All chapters (Access & VBA) should be translated to supported foreign
languages (e.g. Czech).
4. Help should include all topics, basic & advanced; all topics should
explain functionality in detail! See VBE Property in A2002: help doesn't
explain what VBE is! Advanced topics can be found in (mostly non-
Microsoft) Access books only.
5. Help stops responding on several occasions.
6. Insufficient error handling. Enhance error handling; add error number to each
error message box; tell us where exactly an error occurred (which
form/report/module, which sub or function). Add a tool to handle possible
errors, see Total Access Analyzer,
7. A2002: missing VBA code composer (wizard – like the one we had in Access
8. Completely remove AutoCorrect since it makes Access buggy and unstable.
Anyway, AutoCorrect function is incomplete so that it can lead to unpredictable
9. In new versions: new options should default to defaults of previous version!
E.g. How do I get rid of XP's MDI chaos?, A2002: How do I get rid of life
subforms-subreports in design view?, “sticky” help-window in A2002. Sticky
help-window was one of the worst new features in A2002 and it took several
days to get rid of it.
10. Forms/Reports: ListBox/ComboBox - desperately missing name index, e.g.
strMyValue = myListBox.Column("myColumn").
11. Forms/Reports: remove the "save-everything-on-close"-behavior; do it as they
do in VB - they never save dynamically changed forms, i.e. initial settings
NEVER get changed. It really is a PAIN... one of the worst! See Access
2002 bug: "dynamic" forms problem.
12. Forms/Reports: Vertical text.
13. Forms/Reports: missing Control container. Enhance TabControl and
OptionGroup so that they become real containers incl. .Move for all their
components (controls) at once.
14. Forms/Reports: Weird behavior in Form/Report design, A2002: weird form -
15. Forms/Reports: desperately missing zoom in design view.
16. Forms: missing an easy way to get measures of scroll bars and record
selector (and maybe some other items that are based on system metrics).
17. Forms - export to XLS: exclude unbound controls placed in form's
18. Forms: ApplyFilter on a subform.
19. Forms: A2002: AllowDeletions and blinking screen.
20. Forms: ListBox ghost.
21. Forms: Cursor keys in multiline forms.
22. Forms: A2002: Combo-box question.
23. Reports: Missing graphics after export to RTF.
24. Reports: missing complex support for duplex printing, e.g. Two-page report
and non-duplex printers.
25. Remove brackets from main Access window, e.g. This is my application -
[Some text here]; it's ugly.
26. A2002: How do I get rid of multiple save?
27. Enlarge controls in Access appropriate dialogue windows so that they can
display full path for long file names, or, at least, make those controls scrollable
& selectable. For example go to References window.
28. Hi-resolution monitors: missing ability to zoom main Access window & all its
objects incl. images (like we have in Internet Explorer 7). Big problem on
new super Hi-Res LCD displays, especially notebooks!
29. Enhance ActiveX-list-tool so that it behaves as a list not just as a scrollable
menu. It really is annoying to scroll down the menu.
30. Enhance Access dialogues so that they can display more than 4 rows
(selecting folders, file-types, etc.).
31. Enable A2007 Ribbon to be switched off for former GUI as we have in earlier
versions of Access. I don’t have personal experience with A2007 but rumors
say Office Ribbon is a real pain! E.g. A chance to influence the direction of
Access, New Ribbon Reference: RibbonX for Dummies, and other posts at
Access Team Blog.
TimWright @ http://blogs.msdn.com/access/archive/2008/01/08/runtime-
update-in-progress.aspx#comments: “I wish instead of adding these mostly
unwanted features like the ribbon and removing security you would just fix the
problems and annoying bugs that have been there since 1.0.”
32. Missing Reposition event, see Main Access window: reposition.
33. VBA code: more rows list Properties/Methods. 7 rows is not enough for lists
with too many items.
34. Unify syntax, please!
35. Missing functions to search for where a field name is used, see Where is a
field used?, Changing field type - how it effects other features?
36. Access built-in toolbars in design view keep changing their positions (order).
37. Database compression does not remove old objects. Sometimes, old objects
can be seen in the VBA project window but cannot be removed. Old
Forms/Reports remain in the project together with their class modules and
they may refer to public functions which may have been or may be removed!
38. A2002: unknown objects in database (reports, forms, queries).
39. Access Team Blog is becoming a commercial site.
40. More to come... (?)
4. New ideas
1. Make Access PDW a professional tool! At the moment it’s a toy with too
many issues and inter-version incompatibilities, see above.
2. Access should be extracted from Office family and sold as a stand-alone
application incl. PDW.
3. Create EXE instead of MDE. Not an easy task... ?
4. Collections: add OrdinalPosition = -1 for non-existing member.
5. Queries: double-click a query-window (table-window) in design view should
open an appropriate query/table in design view.
6. Form design/Report design: double-click should open code module in default
event procedure of an appropriate section-control.
7. Forms: continuous forms should support SubForms.
8. Forms: anchoring columns - enable column-locking in multirow forms (same
as in datasheet view, see FrozenColumns Property).
9. Forms: missing shapes (like the ones in VB).
10. Reports: enhance PageBreak functionality, see PageBreak question. Or ,at
least, include all available properties to a “property bag”.
11. Reports: Editable output is necessary (Word DOC preferred). Also see
Reports: Missing graphics after export to RTF.
12. Table designer: put all the stuff in one row so that there's no need to switch
between fields (multiline) and tabs. This one might be quite difficult to
13. Tables: add interval keys, something like http://www.allenbrowne.com/ser-
58.html. Not sure if it is possible to implement for JET.
14. Edit (tables/forms/queries): enhance edit so that it is possible to put an
expression to a textbox and evaluate the expression on exit, e.g. =45*2
<Enter> equals 90... something like what we have in MS Excel.
15. Create a special Access Team forum (similar to Utter Access) since there’s
not much feedback from the Access team in current Internet
16. Forms: incremental search on F3 (even for combo-boxes!).
17. Reports: automatic reports based on Form's Recordset (with grouping, totals,
saving report settings, etc.) Some screen-shots of my old A97 solution:
18. Tee-structured projects, i.e. from main project with common functions I can
open a subproject (and then subsubproject, etc.); projects join in memory.
Main.mdb (or mde):
a. Call SubProject1.mdb (or mde) in a subfolder SbProject1; return to
Main when SubProject1 is closed
b. Call SubProject2.mdb (or mde) in a subfolder SubProject2; return to
Main when SubProject2 is closed
Plus a catalogue functionality (paths stored in external Main.cat MDB), i.e.:
Call SubProject2 from SubProject1; return to SubProject1 when SubProject2
For tree projects see PC FAND: http://www.alis.cz/fand/index.jsp (Czech only;
but EN version of PC FAND should be available as well). PC FAND is a DOS
relational database system.
I was discussing tree projects at UtterAccess (or somewhere else?).
Somebody posted an idea of setting a reference to an external MDE but it’s
quite unusual and should lead to untraditional and complicated SQL-handling.
19. More to come... (?)
5. Summary – a few notes & opinions
Highest priorities (prior to new features and enhancements):
1. fixing old bugs & issues... to make MS Access a “rock-steady” product
2. professional PDW
3. enhanced inter-version compatibility
4. detailed documentation & help
5. special emphasis on international issues (translations, locales)
It seems that MS Access Team did not test A2007 very heavily before its
release due to big pressure on Office 2007 release date. Same scenario with SP1.
Microsoft has released an incomplete product (missing A2007 Runtime) in the hurry -
and now it brings back too many negatives & outflow of developers (e.g.
progress.aspx#7078676, Garry said on January 11, 2008 3:00 PM). I’m afraid it could
lead to the end of development of MS Access similar to MS Visual Fox Pro, see A
Message to the Community.
Some new features seem to be just as an attempt to extend Access Team
publication activity (at the expense of Access help/documentation), see Access
books. Office ribbon should be a good example: too complicated, incompatible
philosophy (XML, HTML), but, as far as I can understand Access community
response, not a real enhancement plus an unwanted feature which slows down
development... and we have Access Ribbon book available.
Zac Woodall talking to me at
update.aspx#comments: “You've got a great point about the 97 & 2002 products.
Unfortunately there isn't much we can do about old versions. The best opportunity we
have is to try and influence the direction of future products...”
My answer to Zac’s input (based on Access community response): Due to big
problems that A2007 is having at the present time I don’t think of (even) installing it
before SP2. We are now hardly thinking about switching from Access to different
database system since we don’t see any “bug-fix” & stability progress in Access...
more to the contrary. Anyway, we still hope that A2007 will become a stable and a
bug-free product and that all stability/performance/compatibility/PDW issues will be
Vladimir Cvajniga, Prague, Czech Republic