Whether it's the data or the entire application, SharePoint offers some great tools to protect and recover data and to give people more options for staying connected and sharing information. They're introduced in the following sections (Chapter 17 provides in-depth coverage).
The capability to add, edit, and delete records and then synchronize the data when you next connect to the SharePoint site is such an important feature that it even has its own control in the SharePoint Lists section of the Ribbon's External Data tab. Right next to Work Offline is the control to synchronize the data the next time you connect.
The complete process not only allows users the freedom to work wherever and whenever they want, it also provides the logic and process for comparing records, identifying differences, and allowing users to make educated decisions about which version to keep. This is a powerful alternative to replication.
Access 2007 has an issues tracking template designed to track the progress and resolution of issues. Because the Access template uses the same schema as the SharePoint template, it is a snap to push the data to a SharePoint site. Having a centralized tracking file facilitates assigning responsibilities and tracking completion. Tasks can easily be created and added to an Outlook calendar.
Creating a schedule and delivering on time can be a challenge for any project. The bigger the project, the more likely it is to have multiple interdependencies. Knowing the critical path elements and being able to adjust schedules and workloads accordingly can make the difference in the delivery and in the quality. SharePoint Workflow can automatically assign tasks to users and report on project status. Workflow reports can track the status of multiple lists or be expanded to cover multiple workflows or projects. The associated tasks can be viewed in Access 2007 as well as Outlook 2007.
SharePoint provides a rich set of e-mail and RSS Notifications for changes to data in SharePoint lists. If you have an Access application with linked SharePoint lists, you can configure the SharePoint site to automatically send e-mail notifications whenever records are added, changed, or deleted. Likewise,
SharePoint can be configured to provide RSS subscriptions that are updated automatically whenever linked data is updated in your Access application.
Because SharePoint lists can be accessed through mobile phones, remote users can stay connected and up-to-date. If your application needs to support mobile devices, going through SharePoint may be the easiest way to create a custom solution.
You can use SharePoint to manage which users have access to your data. You can assign limited reading permissions or full editing rights to lists and to published databases. Like the workgroup administrator, you can assign permission levels to groups and then assign individuals to one or more groups. Plus, you can allow or deny access to specific users. The permissions are cumulative, which results in the most restrictive being enforced.
SharePoint takes revision tracking to a whole new level for Access. New functionality enables you to track records and see who created, edited, and deleted records. You can also view when the information was modified and roll back data edits if necessary.
If the Access database is using SharePoint, data can be recovered from the Recycle Bin. You don't have to replace an entire file; the Recycle Bin allows you to view deleted records and selectively recover the ones that are still needed.
Whether it was your client's data or someone else's, we've all felt that sinking sensation when we realize that there is no way to recover records that were inadvertently deleted. Something as seemingly innocent as using delete instead of a filter to sort through records in a select query can result in the sudden elimination of a quarter of the database. That is a real scenario. Thankfully, SharePoint not only provides maximum flexibility to work but it also provides remarkable backup and recovery features. The capability to view and recover deleted records is a definite plus.
Many Access developers are independent consultants or work for small companies and don't have the resources or need for a SharePoint server. Of course, there are more and more options and price points for purchasing a SharePoint space from a hosting company. But before investing elsewhere, it is worth checking out the services offered through Microsoft Office Live, a hosted SharePoint Service through which you can create and test applications and solutions. As with many Microsoft services, there are a range of plans—from free to full-featured versions.
Check it out to see what it is like to publish one of your solutions.
If you have a Windows Server 2003 license, the basic Windows SharePoint Services product is a free download from the Microsoft website.
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