Microsoft Access, also known as Microsoft Office Access, is adatabase management system from Microsoft that combines therelational Microsoft Jet Database Engine with a graphical user interfaceand software-development tools. It is a member of the Microsoft Officesuite of applications, included in the Professional and higher editions or sold separately.
Microsoft Access stores data in its own format based on the Access Jet Database Engine. It can also import or link directly to data stored in other applications and databases.
Software developers and data architects can use Microsoft Access to develop application software, and "power users" can use it to build software applications. Like other Office applications, Access is supported by Visual Basic for Applications, an object-orientedprogramming language that can reference a variety of objects including DAO (Data Access Objects), ActiveX Data Objects, and many other ActiveX components. Visual objects used in forms and reports expose their methods and properties in the VBA programming environment, and VBA code modules may declare and call Windows operating-systemfunctions.
In addition to using its own database storage file, Microsoft Access also may be used as the 'front-end' of a program while other products act as the 'back-end' tables, such as Microsoft SQL Server and non-Microsoft products such as Oracle andSybase. Multiple backend sources can be used by a Microsoft Access Jet Database (accdb and mdb formats). Similarly, some applications such as Visual Basic, ASP.NET, or Visual Studio .NET will use the Microsoft Access database format for its tables and queries. Microsoft Access may also be part of a more complex solution, where it may be integrated with other technologies such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint and ActiveX Controls.
Access tables support a variety of standard field types, indices, and referential integrity including cascading updates anddeletes. Access also includes a query interface, forms to display and enter data, and reports for printing. The underlying Jet database, which contains these objects, is multiuser-aware and handles record-locking.
Repetitive tasks can be automated through macros with point-and-click options. It is also easy to place a database on a network and have multiple users share and update data without overwriting each other's work. Data is locked at the recordlevel which is significantly different from Excel which locks the entire spreadsheet.
There are template databases within the program and for download from their website. These options are available upon starting Access and allow users to enhance a database with predefined tables, queries, forms, reports, and macros. Database templates support VBA code but Microsoft's templates do not include VBA code.
Programmers can create solutions using the programming language Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which is similar toVisual Basic 6.0 (VB6) and used throughout the Microsoft Office programs such as Excel, Word, Outlook and PowerPoint. Most VB6 code, including the use of Windows API calls, can be used in VBA. Power users and developers can extend basicend-user solutions to a professional solution with advanced automation, data validation, error trapping, and multi-usersupport.