Access JumpStart 2.0 | Blog

A Rapid Development Framework for Microsoft Access

What is Access JumpStart? Thanks for asking.

Access JumpStart is our collective work as a two man programming outfit to share common code for our apps across multiple clients, architectures, and configurations. Steve and I call it a framework. It originally was named an Access Rapid Development Framework, but a few years ago we changed it’s name to Access JumpStart to try to more clearly define it as a potential product.

As we worked with multiple clients, we tended to find work at small to mid size companies potentially with departments or multiple locations. These types of applications needed common types of features that are not native to Access. Here are a few of them off the top of my head:

  • User login and management – this is both to secure the application as well as differentiate menus and functionality between different groups of users.
  • Application distribution – how are the users going to install the application. How are they going to upgrade to new versions?
  • Menus – creating an easy way to manage navigating the applications. We use the switchboard style of menus common to many Access apps, but create custom styles for the switchboards.
  • Logging – we have a logging mechanism built into the framework that you can easily integrate into your processes to log messages. A number of messages concerning startup, errors, and the user login and menu system all have logging built in and can be turned on or off with an option.
  • Versioning – We have integrated the framework with OASIS-SVN in order to pull in version numbers based on the repository commit numbers. This means that the date and version number can be automatically updated each time we commit to the repository.
  • Code Library – We have a number of classes and routines that we commonly use to create a better user experience such as a class to add to forms that will resize all the controls on them based on the available real estate on the user’s workstation. Also a function that will handle looking at the recordset of a subform and shrinking or growing the subform based on the number of records and available space. There are many other functions in the library.
  • Backend table management – Automatically connects to an ODBC source with a connection string and returns the available tables. Provides for multiple configurations for development, production, and any multiple production locations you might have. Works with SQL Server, MySQL Server, and Access File Backends on network shares out of the box.
  • Behavior options – lots of options to control behavior and the ability to customize these options through a override system so that you can test the environment and apply option overrides based on your tests. This is very useful for multiple departments for example where you can set up each department to have their own color scheme, or to connect to your dev database while you are in your office, but to the live database at the customer’s office.

The system itself consists of a front end database, a backend database, and a library database. Typically, the front end database and library database are distributed to the users while the backend database is globally accessible on the network, either as an Access file on a file share, or with a SQL Server.

We have written checklists for ourselves to use a fresh copy of Access JumpStart to create a new app or to integrate it with an existing app that might have been given to us by a customer. This has proven to be beneficial to us in decreasing our delivery time for initial projects as well as allowing all of our customers to benefity from system upgrades.

The system is available for purchase at this link as a complete product: Access JumpStart, a Rapid Development Framework for Microsoft Access