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03 May 2017

Goodbye SharePoint Online Access Services

SharePoint Access AppMicrosoft has recently announced that they will stop supporting Access Services in SharePoint Online. This came faster than I had expected, and the depreciation will be implemented quickly. Instead Microsoft wants us to use their new product PowerApps, which has great potential but still needs to be further developed to be as useful as we would wish.

Publish databases to SharePoint
Access Services was created to make it possible to publish a database to SharePoint and thereby study and use it in a web browser. I have taken advantage of it in several solutions, but now I have to find new ways, of course.

At the same time Microsoft has ensured that they will continue to support and invest in desktop databases, so you can continue creating forms, queries, reports and more in an .accd file on your computer. Only the web based service will be depreciated.

PowerApps
Microsoft PowerApps iconMicrosoft suggests that we replace Access Services with their newer product PowerApps, and PowerApps indeed has some very good features that Access Services is lacking. PowerApps support mobile devices, and you can connect the apps to various databases and third-party data sources. PowerApps also gives developers a more building tools and connection to custom web APIs.

SharePoint lists with the new experience interface has a PowerApps button in the command bar. This makes it very convenient to create apps from a SharePoint list, but the result often leaves a great deal to be desired. In my experience you can get useful apps from SharePoint lists, but you must modify the auto-created app rather heavily.
Office 365 from Scratch cover
My book Office 365 from Scratch includes some examples on how to modify auto-created PowerApps from various data sources, and the kalmstrom.com Tips section has articles on how to build PowerApps from SharePoint Projects and Phone Messages lists.

SharePoint Online Exercises
In my book SharePoint Online ExercisesSharePoint Online Exercises cover, I show how to create two apps that make use of Access Services: an issue tracking all and an inventory app. These exercises are not central for the book, so it is still useful for anyone who wants to learn how to create SharePoint apps for common business processes. I will however replace the exercises that require Access Services and update the book as soon as possible.

Migrate
In Office 365 and SharePoint Online the Access Services will stop support for new databases as soon as in June, 2017, and existing apps and web databases will be closed by April, 2018. Therefore it is time to start thinking about how to handle the data you currently manage with the help of Access Services.

Microsoft gives several suggestions on how to migrate web databases to other data sources. When that is done, you can start developing PowerApps!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions