Access Web Apps in Sharepoint Online – An overview

One of the many features of SharePoint Online is the ability to have Access Web Apps in your SharePoint sites, allowing you host some of your data in the cloud.

Previously this has been a complex task, using requiring a specific set of skills, but not with Access Web Apps.

Creating a new Access Web App
The first thing that should be said is that you still need Access 2013 installed on your computer. More to the point, someone will. The Access Web App you build has to be built using Access 2013, but once its built it can be used by anyone with access to the SharePoint site, regardless of the device they are on.

Creating your first web app is straightforward. From your SharePoint Site, you can go to the ‘cog’ and select ‘Add an app’

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Once you’re here, on the of options you’ll get is the Access App. Clicking this will simply ask you for a name. You can also upload an access app you made somewhere else.

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Once that’s done and you try use it, you’ll get presented with a holding page asking you to open the app in Access to start building. Once you’ve opened your app in access, you’ll see a familiar interface, similar to any other new Access 2013 database.

Building your database
I’m not going talk much about creating databases and managing access databases in this post. Instead, I’ve just created a tiny 2 table database as a sample to have a play with.

I’ve been using Access for year (since Access 2003), and have worked with some very large, complex databases, so I didn’t find this difficult. But, I don’t think anyone will.

It is really quite easy to build a basic Access Web App using Access 2013. Some of the more advanced features will take some work, but there is plenty of support and documentation available for those looking to take it further.

There are also loads of templates to get you going or, as I’ve done you can start with a completely blank database and built it yourself.

As with any other Access Database, you can also import data from another Database, spreadsheet or other source.

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Using your Database
Once you’ve got your database built and you launch the app, you’ll be able to use your forms just like any other web app, and very quickly be able to add the data.

Each table automatically gets a list view and datasheet view which will be available in the web app.

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Not everyone needs Access
One of the major advantages here is that you can anyone with access to the SharePoint App will be able to use the database. You need Access installed in order to design the database, but the app can be used by anyone, reducing the licensing requirements along with the need to train other users on

Where is my data?
When working with an Access Web App, the data is stored in an Azure SQL Database for your app, and there are a number of ways you can access this data, which I have covered here: Accessing your Access Web App’s Data

Conclusion
They won’t be for everyone, but Access Web Apps are an easy, quick way to start getting data into the cloud. I’d definitely recommend that you investigate it further before making any decisions. It may just be the thing you need.

Features available in access web apps
For some more information on the differences between and Access App and an Access Database have a look at this post:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/access-help/should-i-create-an-access-2013-app-or-an-access-desktop-database-HA104136335.aspx

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