19 May 2007

Real World Access (25)

One of a series of articles about where Microsoft Office Access applications have found a real-world niche.

 Mark Davis's Print Shop

A small print shop in Indiana wanted a new database to replace the one they were using. At the time, they were using an ailing DB4 database that had, over the years, been written and modified by several different independent developers. Needless to say it was in rough shape for further tweaking. The shop owner asked me if a new database could be written with a newer development tool and handed me a brand new package of Clarion.

After fumbling with an initial interface for about month, the pressure was mounting to derive even the simplest of interfaces. All the shop needed was a tool to track print jobs as they came in the door and be able to track them through the entire printing process. It was then that Microsoft Access made it's welcome appearance in the form of a 'beta' invitation. Within 8 hours of it (Access Beta 0.9) arriving, it was installed and able to easily generate the first interface for their application - the 'job information screen'.

Within just a few weeks, a complete print job tracking application was built, in place and helping to smooth operations at that print shop. Before this project, I had never looked at or touched a database development tool of any kind.

The print shop owners were so pleased with what was done so quickly, and with what appeared so flexible, they pressed me into furthering their application's abilities by adding some Point Of Sale features. That was quickly followed by a request for an Accounts Receivable addition. Then Accounts Payable, followed by a General Ledger and then Payroll. Finally, they wanted their "simple job tracking" program to be able to roll up all of their monthly, quarterly and annual reports for their tax accountant, who provided the tax and chart of accounts info. And of course, there had to be an annual "Clean Up" button that would roll up the previous year's information & balances and do the proper carry-overs, so their tax accountant could enter in just a few lines of beginning balances to start the new year of business.

That was late in 1991 through 1992, and that print shop is still using the same application written in Access 1.0, now migrated (through the years) to Access 97 where it still works for them today.

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