Accessing a database from the web (1 Viewer)

Rudolph583

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Hi all,

I am working on a new project and would appreciate your advice on how to best implement this.

Basically, I am looking to build an app which I can use to manage my perosnal to-do's (tasks). I have already implemented everything in a locally stored Access database. Very simple stuff: It's only a single table (which stores my to-do's with a description, deadline, category, etc.), a few queries and a few forms for data entry. Very limited data to be stored - only a few hundreds of records.

That all works fine, but the problem is that I can only access my to-do application when I'm sitting in front of the computer where the Access DB is stored locally. I would like to access my data in 2 ways:
1. When at home, using Microsoft Access
2. When on the road, using my mobile phone.

Would you have any suggestions on how to build this?

I'm considering having the table stored on a database web hosting service, building a few simple website forms for data entry and retrieval via mobile phone and for local usage linking my web hosted table into Access.

The ideal solution I am looking for would be:
  • Reasonably simple to build. I have many years of Access, SQL and VBA experience, but only basic HTML and MySQL and no JavaScript experience. Looking for something where I don't have to spend weeks learning how to web forms and operate a server.
  • Reasonable cost. Considering I'd store very little data, hoping not to spend more than £30 a year on web hosting services.
  • Data stored in the cloud. Don't want to run a local web server due to security issues.
  • Local administration. I'd like to keep using my local Access 2007 front-end when I'm at home, so looking for a way of Access linking-in my table on the cloud. Is this possible at all and how can it be done?

Many thanks!
 

GPGeorge

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Access can't be run in a browser because it is a Windows based application, running only on the Windows OS.

You CAN, however, make the data available in such as way as to use it in other environments. That includes options like moving the data into SharePoint Lists so that you can link to them from any desktop connected to the internet. The cost of a MS 365 account and the time to migrate the data would be minimal.

Another option would be to move the data into a hosted SQL Server, or SQL Azure database so that, again, you can link to that data from your own computer using Access, or any other Windows computer connected to the internet. You could also write a web interface to use that same SQL Server/SQL Azure database. I do this, in fact, with a couple of websites I own. They have web interfaces built with .net, but I manage the data from my own Access FE on the desktop. The learning curve is steep so your first requirement might not be met easily.

Still another option for the mobile part of the hybrid application would be PowerApps. They are minimal, low-code applications but might meet your "very simple stuff" requirement. See the Youtube series here for ideas. I used SharePoint list and a SQL Azure database. Costs are, again, minimal, but not free.

Other options might include a Remote Desktop solution that you could use to remote to your home computer. That wouldn't necessarily support a smart device interface, but research that option as well.
 

CJ_London

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easiest option would be to use something like teamviewer. Only thing to consider is viewing your 'monitor sized' app on a smartphone screen.

Not sure whether it is biased or not but this link does a review of similar products https://rigorousthemes.com/blog/best-free-teamviewer-alternatives/

edited - wrong link

edit2: if your are remoting in from a smartphone, do check how well it works for gestures (swiping/scrolling etc). I used to use Jump Desktop because its features were easier to use than teamviewer. But that was many years ago and I'm sure things have improved since then
 
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theDBguy

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Hi. Welcome to AWF!

I was also going to recommend using PowerApps. Good luck!
 

The_Doc_Man

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This is a bit of a diversion, perhaps, but if this is really just a To-Do application, you can run Outlook on a PC and on Android. Outlook has a to-do list, so the issue would really be whatever queries you wanted to run would perhaps have to be run from the PC - but the actual to-do list should be available from Outlook if you have an ISP that supports it.

Access doesn't play well with the web. You can do Windows RDP or CITRIX (and I suspect TeamViewer uses RDP) so that you remotely login on your PC through your smartphone. Then you run Access on the PC and the smartphone is merely a remote screen.

Note that of your requirements...
  • Reasonably simple to build. You build the Access app as though you were always going to use it locally. Then you set up your system to allow the RDP inbound connection from your smartphone.
  • Reasonable cost. Probably need a single-use RDP license and/or an app for the phone and for the PC as the host for the remote session. The RDP licenses should be one-time purchases (unless you buy support for the remoting product.)
  • Data stored in the cloud. No, NEVER try this. Access won't work on cloud servers without expensive work-around software that in essence builds an HTTP or HTTPS session as a terminal emulation for a local Access app. Using RDP, your app would stay on your PC, nowhere near a cloud. Stored remotely? Yes. Stored on a cloud server? No. Won't work with FE in local copy of Access and BE on a cloud somewhere.
  • Local administration. You would always be using your Ac2007 either way, but when over the smartphone, your RDP or equivalent would act as a middle-man. That is how you could make it work.
 

Rudolph583

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Many thanks all for your detailed replies. To keep you updated: I am currently considering going for a hosted MySQL database and then try to connect to it via ODBC. I would then have a simple PHP web form (hosted with the same provider as the MySQL database) for data entry and data display while on my mobile, using a browser app on my phone to display these pages. I am hoping that this ODBC solution will allow me to connect Access to a web hosting provider. Not sure if that will work, though.

I yet have to find a suitable web hosting provider. It appears most providers don't allow remote MySQL ODBC connections, but a few apparently do, e.g. HelioHost (who currently don't accept new subscribers). Maybe I'll go for a low fee provider instead of a free one.

Regarding the proposed alternatives, remoting into my local machine via remote desktop would work. I actually run RealVNC and really like it. The downside of this approach is that my computer would have to run all the time and it would need to have Access as the main app open (unless I want to click around remotely to open it). It works, but it's not as fast as I'd like it to be (e.g. being able to take a few notes seconds).

Sharepoint, PowerApps etc. might not be an option for me because I'm running an old verison of Access: Access 2007. I'm not keen on upgrading to Office 365 because I'm not a fan of such a subscription based model.

Thanks again everyone.
 

The_Doc_Man

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computer would have to run all the time and it would need to have Access as the main app open

"Run all the time:" Yes
IF using RDP, then "Access as the main app open:" No, because RDP allows command line connectivity. You can manually launch. IF you have the desktop open, you can launch from that.
 

theDBguy

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Sharepoint, PowerApps etc. might not be an option for me because I'm running an old verison of Access: Access 2007.
I could be wrong, but I think that would be fine. No need to upgrade to 365.
 

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