Are products like Access and VB bad? A long time ago it seemed that if you could spell VB, you could get a job. That was good in some ways as it helped the explosion of growth in technology employment. It was bad because we had many people building applications without understanding software development and we ended up with many buggy, crash-prone applications.
Someone posted recently that these “low-end” products had helped them get a job and get started in this business. This person thought my comment was a complaint against these software products, but that’s not the case. I know quite a few people have built or supported applications on Access, VB, or Excel and then gone on to a career with SQL Server. In fact, the first business application I built was on Lotus 1-2-3, using a large combination of macros to help someone with estimating.
Are “easy-to-use” products like Access or Excel good for business? Should they be used to build applications? Like most things in technology, the answer is “it depends.” Often these are not the basis for a robust system on which you run your business, but they can be. Often there is a need or desire for something to be built quickly, and cheaply, in order to accommodate some aspect of business. These tools are a way for some type of automation to be assembled quickly and used by business people.
However you can outgrow these applications and find that something stronger is needed. That’s the time when an IT project makes sense, and arguably, that’s the appropriate time to spend the money.
I like prototyping useful tools, and Microsoft provides ways to easily accomplish this. To me, software like Powerpivot seems likely to spur on more projects, not fewer.