Access 2003, when teamed with SharePoint Portal Server or SharePoint Team Services 2.0 can provide some pretty awesome data sharing capabilities. Both flavors of SharePoint (Portal Server and Team Services) have the ability to share and track Microsoft Office documents among multiple users. And, with built-in document check-in/check-out, version tracking, subscription services, e-mail updates and alerts, Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) makes it easy to share and manage information. It can even be used to ensure that users are automatically kept up-to-date on their projects.
By making it easy to create a Web site that manages information in one central location, WSS dramatically improves team collaboration. And as it becomes more popular, companies will want to do more complicated things with the online data that is offered at a Web site. For example, printing mailing labels for a selected group of contacts. As you probably know, printing directly from a Web site has inherent challenges. But, Access reports are specifically designed for printing. By integrating Access with WSS, you have the best of both worlds. You can easily collect, store, and share data at a central location using WSS, and you can easily manipulate that data with Access.
So, if you are familiar with SharePoint capabilities, you can start getting excited about using Access to tap directly into its power and convenience. Using Access 2003, you can directly import from and export to or link a table to a SharePoint Services list. And, from SharePoint Services, you can export or link to a table in Access. If you're noticing the LINK option you're likely catching onto the potential here. Yes, this can be a dynamic connection so that changes in either location are immediately reflected in both places. However, when there are situations that it would be preferable to for the Access user to have static data, the import/export options take only seven steps to set up. Access 2003 makes it easy to have the best of both worlds.
Leveraging an Access developer's expertise to extend the functionality of a WSS Web site can result in extremely powerful solutions that were not previously possible. When Access tables are linked to data in WSS, the data is treated as though it is native to Access. So, data that was previously difficult to get into Access is now easily and quickly incorporated into the Access schema. Access can be used to analyze and/or scrub the data either locally or while it still resides on the WSS. And, Access can be used to modify and publish data to a WSS Web site. WSS and Access are an excellent example of how uniting two technologies can create a whole that is more valuable than the sum of its parts.
As previously stated, it is amazingly easy to import and export data from Access to and from a SharePoint server. In fact, it is just seven easy steps for either direction.
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