I have been using the Access runtime since 1997 when I purchased the Access Developer edition. The Developer edition included a license to distribute the Access runtime. Starting with Access 2007 Microsoft has made the developer extensions and a license to distribute the runtime free.
The Access Runtime is like a database viewer. It is similar to the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Acrobat Reader will open a PDF. It will not allow you to create a PDF. Similar you can use the Access Runtime to “view” a database. You can use the Forms and Reports that have already been created. It will run existing queries, macros and VBA code. You can enter data. You can’t get to design mode for any objects. To create an Access database and design object you will need the full version of Access.
It is common in software development platforms to have two versions:
1) The Developer Edition - used for creating applications. Normally this must be purchased.
2) The Runtime Engine - used to run the application. This is not always free.
With Access the Full/Retail version is your developer edition. The Access runtime version is a runtime engine. The runtime version is definitely [b]NOT[/b] the same as the full Retail version. It does have some limitations. Since it is free you do not get the paid feature of Office like the spell checker, Office Clipboard, etc.
Who should use the Access Runtime version?
The Access runtime doesn’t include the all built in features of Access’s UI available on the Ribbons or Menu. Some of the advanced features like Filter-by-Form and spell check are not available. That is reasonably since you have not paid for them. The Access Runtime is great for databases where a developer has created the entire feature set they want the user to have. This is done without relying on the built in features available through the Access UI.
The way I have always viewed using the runtime is that it is FREE Lite version. It is a database viewer for people that do not need all the full power of the retail version of Access. It is great for data entry users. It is not good for the power user that needs a lot of the advanced feature, like Filter by form. In my opinion this is fair since you are not paying for the more advanced features. If you need all of the advanced features in the retail (paid) version then it is probably best to purchase the full retail version. If you do want the same features included in the paid version in the free lite runtime version then you will need to have a developer (normally means additional cost) create the required features. If you need all the features of the full/paid version of Access then the Access runtime may not be for you. Especially if this will be a small deployment. It may be cheaper to just purchase full licenses of Access. For large deployments it can have a cost savings to use the free/runtime version. The extra development costs are offset by the the reduced licensing fees. In the long run it can have a significant savings with large deployments.
How to obtain the Access Runtime version
Starting with Access 2007 the Access Runtime version and developer extensions are free. With prior versions you have to purchase the Developer Extensions which included to the Access Runtime setup and a license to distribute the Access Runtime version.
Where to install the Runtime version?
The Access Runtime version should only be installed on a machine that does not already have the full version of Access installed. I would not recommend installing the Access Runtime version of the same machine that has the Full version of Access installed. I like to use Virtual PC for testing the installation of the Access Runtime version.
I do whatever I can to insure that only one version of Access is installed on a User's machine. If there is already a compatible version of Access installed then I recommend using it. I would not install another version of Access if at all possible.
I just installed the Access Runtme version. Where is it?
You will not see the Access Runtime on your Start Menu with the other Microsoft Office applications. The Access runtime is not used in the same way you would use the full version of Access. The Access Runtime can only be used with existing databases. It is possible to use Windows Explorer to find the database file and double click on it to open it in the Access Runtime. I find it better to create a shortcut to launch the database with the Access runtime. You can place the shortcut on the desktop and/or the Start Menu.
Forcing the full version of Access into Runtime Mode
You can simulate the Access Runtime environment with the Full version of Access. With Access 2000-2010 you can create a shortcut that start Access and loads a database using the /runtime command line switch.
Example Shortcut for Access 2003:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\MSACCESS.EXE" "C:\my2003DB.mdb" /runtime
With Access 2007 and 2010 it is even easier:. You can simply rename your database from the .accdb or .accde to a .accdr. Now double click on the .accdr file and Access will load in Runtime mode.
- TIP: You can also rename a .mdb or ,.mde to a .accdr to get Access 2007 or 2010 to open it in runtime mode.
It is important to note that this only simulates the runtime version. It is close but not a 100% match to the Access Runtime Installation. There are features that will work in with the full version of Access in runtime mode that do not work the same with in the actual Access Runtime version installation. From the best I have been able to figure out is that there are things installed with the full version that will still work when forced into Runtime mode. These same features (files/reg keys, etc.) are not installed with the Access Runtime version installation package. So these features don’t work in the Runtime installation like they did with the full version in runtime mode.
The only way to truly test the Access Runtime environment is to install and run the Access Runtime on a clean machine. I like to use a VM. I have only used Virtual PC. The roll back feature is great for testing an installer package.
Errors and the Advantages of using an MDE/ACCDE with the Runtime
With an MDB in the Access runtime errors can cause Access to shut down or appear to crash. If it does not shutdown then it will probably reset all memory variables to 0 or Nothing/Null. One of the advantages to using an MDE with the Access Runtime is that errors that are not trapped don't cause variables to get reset or the Access Runtime to shut down. With errors that are not trapped with an MDE in the Runtime mode you application keeps running but it is very difficult to figure out what cause the error. It is important to have error handling to trap errors.
When deploying your application with the Access Runtime, or full Access in Runtime mode, I recommend converting your Applications (Front ends) into an MDE/ACCDE. It will make your applications more stable if they encounter errors that are not trapped. Error Handling is still important and should not be neglected.
How to set up a machine with the Access runtime
You can install the Access Runtime from the free download at Microsoft (You can find links here) . Copy your front end database (back end also if needed) to the machine. Open the database. No different that if you were to install the full version of Access and set up your database. You do not have to create an installer package unless you want to bundle it into a neat little installer package.
Packaging your Front end with the Acces Runtime
Using the Acess developer extensions you can create an installer package that will isntall your Access database and the Acess runtime.
Did you know that Access is a Database Front End not a Database Engine?
What? How can that be? I am able to create tables in Access. This is true because Access really is a Front End to a database engine.
Access interfaces with a database engine that manages the database. Access is a GUI front end for the JET and/or ACE database engines depending on the version of Access. The JET database engine is what manages the .mdb format. In Access 2007 there was a new database engine introduced called ACE. ACE is what manages the new .accdb format.
Why have you never seen JET and ACE?
JET and ACE do not have a built in user interface. Access provides a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for working with JET/ACE objects in the database. This makes creating tables a lot easier than writing SQL statements or DAO code to manage your table design.
Since Access is just a front end it can use many different data sources as the back end. You can use any data source that has an ODBC driver installed on your PC. This makes it possible to use an SQL Server as the back end for your Access application.
Other software can also use JET or ACE as a Back End
JET and ACE are DLLs that can be used by other programming languages like VB/VB.Net, C++/C#, etc.
If I remember correctly, starting with Windows 2000 that the Windows OS used a JET database internally as a system component. This means the JET 4 DLLs are already installed on the machine. I figure this out one day when I tried to run the JET Comp Utility on a Windows 2000 Server that did not have Access installed n it work!
One of the Advantages to using a JET 4 (.mdb) database is that you do not have to worry about installing the JET Database Engine. Windows Update also takes care of keeping he JET files up to date.
If you want to create a Front End that uses an ACE database (.accdb) then you will have to include the Data Engine Redistributables in your installer package.
On the Microsoft Access Blog there is a comment from Clint Covington of Microsoft stated "The Jet engine is a system component and making changes to it ment making changes to Windows. The new engine gives us more flexibility to innovate in the codebase and ship updates via Office."
User Level Security Support
Jet uses the built-in User Level Security. This feature was dropped in the new ACE (.accdb) database foramt. Databses in the .ACE (.accdb) format no longer have the built-inUser Level Security. Access 2007/2010 does supports both JET and ACE. This allow you to create and use JET to create a .mdb format database if you want or need to stiill use the built-in User Level Security. For Additional information see JET User Level Security (Click Here)
Trust Center in Access 2007 and 2010 Trusted Locations
When working twith Access 2007 and 2010, it is important to make sure to set the trused locations.
In 2007 to set create a Trusted Location:
You can add folders to trusted locations from Office Orb > Access Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings... > Trusted Locations
In 2010 to set create a trusted location:
You can add folders to trusted locations from File (Backstage) > Access Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings... > Trusted Locations
The Trused Locations is set for each user on a computer. It is not a system wide setting on a workstation.
Trusted Documents in 2010:
Access 2010 now has the concept of a trusted document. When opening a database you click on the Enable Content button in the Message Bar and the code is trusted. What's new in 2010 is that the code will continue to be trusted on subsequent openings as long as the file is not moved.
Testing to see if in Trusted Location
In Acess 2007/2010 there is a new property CurrentProject.IsTrusted that you can test from a Macro to determie is the VBA code will run.
For a working example, download and open the Northwind 2007 sample database (Click Here) from a non-trusted location to see how this works.
Setting the Trusted Locations when deploying the Access Runtime Version:
If you are using the Microsoft Developer tool to create a deployment package, there is an option in the Wizard to create the registry keys.
There are commercial products available to help you. SageKey (Click Here) is very popular. You will also find a script for the free INNO installed. It can be found in the downloads. See: Inno Installer Script (Like Sagekey)
If you want to use an Automatic Front End Updater then Tony's Auto FE Updater (Click Here) will create "Trusted Locations registry entries so the user no longer sees the 'Access 2007 Security Warning - Certain content in this database has been disabled'"
You can find a free tool called AddPath that is a small exe that you place in the same folder as the database. By double-clicking on AppPath.exe the folder with subfolders will be added to the trusted locations list. See: Trusted Locations
It is possible to use VBA code to create Trusrted Locations. You will find some VBA code you can use in the Utter Access Wiki (Click Here)
For additional information, I recommend the following links:
Access VBA has not really changed that much in many years for desktop applications.. If something worked in 2000 or 2002/2003 then it will probably work in the newer versions. There were a few new features introduced on Access 2007 that require the example to be in 2007 (.accdb) format. New in 2007 was the Ribbon, Rich Text, and Save as PDF. You will find that a lot of articles examples are done with the oldest version possible that it will support it. This allows a single article or example can be created that is compatible with many Access versions and reaching the larges possible audience. It is common for Authors to only update their articles and/or examples if it requires a change for the newer version of Access.
That is why you see a lot more of examples that are in Access 2000, 2002/2003 and 2007. There are a lot fewer in 2010 and even less in 2013. When searching for examples keep in mind that all those Access 2000/2002/2003 examples will usually apply to Access 2007 and newer versions.
TIP: It is generally safe to assume that if an Access verion is specified in an artilce or example that is means that version and later.
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Anti-virus and Spyware:
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It started development as an undergraduate college senior design project mentored by Microsoft, and is currently being maintained by some of the alumni that originally worked on it. Originally intended as a free replacement for the Microsoft Paint software that comes with Windows, it has grown into a powerful yet simple image and photo editor tool. It has been compared to other digital photo editing software packages such as Adobe® Photoshop®, Corel® Paint Shop Pro®, Microsoft Photo Editor, and The GIMP
IrfanView is a very fast, small, compact and innovative FREEWARE (for non-commercial use) graphic viewer for Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2000, XP, 2003 , 2008, Vista, Windows 7
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