Don Spencer (Waterloo, ON, IT Manager of Pano Cap Canada)
On 26-Jun-2007, I published a quick blog entry noting that the developer extensions and the Access 2007 runtime were finally available for download. But the next day, a recall was issued because Microsoft Update would not automatically detect and patch the component. Eric Rucker anticipated that the free developer extensions and runtime would be available within a couple weeks, but we are still awaiting the patched product as I write.
One of the reasons why this is so important to IT managers is that departmental applications are often deployed using the runtime engine, thereby avoiding the extra costs of purchasing a full version of Access for each user. With the runtime, managers can deploy the engine free-of-charge to each user. Then, presumably with a split database architecture in place - each user getting a copy of the front-end with the forms and reports and queries and the back-end residing in a protected share on the server - the manager can set up a SharePoint version control site for subsequent, automatic updates to those distributed front-end copies.
So we will wait. Not just because the tool will save money, but because the tool itself is free! Previously a manager would have to purchase the ADE (Access Developer Extensions) for each developer, usually through the Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO). This isn't such a big deal for larger companies who already have bellied up to the bar in purchasing either individual copies of Visual Studio Professional or Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office. But now, small- and medium-sized companies can deploy their own custom applications using Access 2007 by merely having an Office 2007 Professional copy for each developer without the larger investment in Visual Studio. And, if they were smart, each of those Access developers would have received a free copy of Office 2007 Professional through attending EnergizeIT in June.
What we should see soon is a whole new cadre of IT managers/developers in small- and medium-sized operations discovering or rediscovering Access as a bona fide platform for custom departmental applications. From novice to professional alike, all the tools will soon be in place at minimal cost to SMBs.
So, if you've developed in Access before or if you're brand new to Access 2007, now is the time to get up to speed or to help those you manage get ready. Here are some resources to consider.