This is the second part of a three part series on the Access IDE. Part I can be found here and Part III here.

10. Colored Command Buttons
Call me a fashionista, but I’d love to have colored command buttons!

9. Collapsible Procedures
Would love to have a «+» next to each procedure header to collapse or expand it.

8. Copy Objects with Code
Wouldn’t it be great if when a button is copied from one form to another the code also got copied over? Currently we need to copy/paste the code. Macros attached to buttons already do this.

7. System Imports
Using Windows APIs is almost a given in everything I do, but having a System.Import functionality, (similar to Visual Studio), would go a long way.

6. Connections
Here’s another feature I’d like to borrow from VSS: a general connection object we can just set once in the project and use it through all of our code. I replicate the functionality using a module level connection object, but I’d like to see this implemented.

5.  SQL Builder
One of the reasons I LOVE SQL Server Management Studio, (SSMS), is the wonderful intellisense when building SQL Statements. It makes it almost fool proof to pick the right tables and fields in your database when building long SQL Strings. Adding a SQL Builder that will automatically recognize both native and linked tables would be a real boon for productivity.

4. Native Support for SQL Server
Currently we need to use ADODB and SQLOLEDB to connect with SQL Server in our code, would be nice if there was native support for connections to SQL.

3. Silverlight Integration

The recent articles at the official Access blog on Silverlight Integration  were a real eye opener for me, would love to see Silverlight better integrated into Access going forward.

2. Spell Checker
Who’s never misspelled a dialog box prompt? Point made.

And the #1 feature I wished I had in the Access IDE:

1. Create a new top level Office object model
I get why we need to use references to other office applications, but it would be nice to see a General IDE across all office Apps that can natively talk to each other. The current state is mostly due to having individual Microsoft programming teams for each office program. But what if Microsoft baked the references into all the Office IDEs, creating a top level office object above all of the existing office object models? We would get native intellisense that spanned the entire infrastructure, provide us with a universal object browser and who knows what other great benefits.

A move towards Macros?
The new macro editor in 2010 is a wonderful editor for both newbies and developers alike.  I’m glad the Access team took the time and effort to revamp the interface, but I also hope it also means the next version of Access brings something new to the IDE and not a general move towards more Macros in the future.

So why not just use Visual Studio instead of the native Access IDE?
I see Microsoft adding more Office programming to Visual Studio with every release, so maybe this is the ultimate goal. What I love about this process is that it preservers the old IDE and would provide us an upgrade path to Visual Studio.

We need a new Renascence in the Access IDE
A lot of this wishlist is borrowed from the Visual Studio environment. What I’m asking the Access developers at Microsoft to do is not so much provide us an IDE similar to .Net but to leapfrog them altogether with a totally revamped IDE. Don’t just replicate what they have, improve and innovate over what Visual Studio is doing, in other words, it’s time for an Access IDE Renascence!


What new features would you like to see in the Access IDE for Access 2014? Leave a comment below and you will be entered into a contest for a Amazon $25 gift card when I finish taking comments for the third article in this series.