Tip #107: Pros and Cons of Access 2013 Web Apps

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SharePoint 2013 & Office365 releases have no changes for InfoPath functionality, which might be a sign that InfoPath is going nowhere and will be replaced soon. At the same time there are a lot of changes in Access 2013 Web Apps, and this products looks as a good potential replacement for InfoPath apps.

However, there are some pros and cons you need to consider when planning a switch from InfoPath to Access Web Apps, such as

Pros of Access 2013 Web Apps

  • You can build them directly in Access 2013
  • They support relational data on multiple levels
  • No coding is required
  • The backend for them is SQL Server 2012, allowing for scalable data storage and access
  • Security is based on SharePoint groups; you can determine who has edit vs readonly access to the Access Web App through the standard SharePoint Visitors and Members groups
  • Microsoft offers data table templates, speeding the creation of Access Web Apps
  • The form designer tools have Microsoft Access's trademark ease of use
  • You can package your app to sell on the Microsoft App Marketplace ($$$)


Cons of Access 2013 Web Apps

  • Records stored in Access Web Apps cannot trigger or be part of SharePoint 2013 workflows. If you want to build a SharePoint form that involves significant business processes, Access Web Apps might not be for you.
  • Security setup is basic and somewhat limited. First, it isn't possible for users to own records. Second, there isn't a way to separate who can add a record vs. who can edit a record. Third, there is no way to apply edit vs readonly permissions to specific tables in an app. If you can edit records in one table, you can edit records in all the tables within the app.
  • The app owns the database. Don't expect Access Web Apps to provide a frontend to a centralized database that already exists.
  • For now, creating Access Web apps is a little buggy. When creating a very simple app, Access 2013 crashed on me twice, and I lost some work. Hopefully Microsoft will iron out the bugs in the coming Office 2013 service packs.

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