While I find it almost cliche to bash Microsoft about many of their products, services, and well, business manner, this one I just can’t keep a tight-upper lip about anymore.
Most of the people that know me, know I’m not really a "Microsoft Fan-Boy", but I do use many of their products. My primary machine, as well as my laptop are Windows based, I use a lot of the Microsoft office tools out there. Heck, I’m Microsoft Business Services certified for install and maintenance of many of their products. I am open to many other technologies (for example, I have a Solaris box, and an OS/2 box I use on occasion, in addition to using ColdFusion and Flex for development), but typically Microsoft products are well thought out, and usually work as designed.
This was my mental state before I installed Office 2007 on my primary machine. Running through Word and Powerpoint shows many new improvements, and in general, a cleaner work-flow. At first I was a skeptic on the new "ribbon" toolbar, but after a while, it really does become easier to use than looking for an option among 3,000 menu items. Outlook, while having some improvements, seems much slower than previous versions, and requires you to install "Windows Desktop Search" (which is a very resource hog as it tries to index your entire computer in real-time).
But my biggest beef is with Microsoft’s ‘enhancements’ to Access. Access is one of those programs that really hadn’t changed since 1996 in its design, workflow or management. Sure they added a little feature here or there, but that has been the extent of Access’s lifecycle for the last decade. Recently, I had to create a simple database to store some data for a portable web-app (in Flex/ColdFusion) I was writing. I fire up Access 2007, and attempt to create a blank database file. I click on the "Create a Blank Database Wizard", and enter the name as I always did in the past. Up comes the most confusing "Create your database by just entering in the data" screen. I start clicking on just about every menu option I can find to get out of this mode and go into a regular design view. It wasn’t until wading through the help file for about 2 minutes that it pointed me to a 16×16 icon in the lower right corner of the screen that looks familiar — the Design View icon! If Microsoft is going for best practices, why the heck did that end up down there? Oh, well, so I go on and create my tables.
I hook up my web application, and enter in a whole slew of sample data then then needs to be erased. Thank goodness that didn’t change (although, I don’t know how it could), minus having to change the database file to an Access 2000/2003 file. Everything is going good until I’m ready to clear out the database, and ship the example out. To clear the database, the quickest way for me was to go into SQL view of a Query, and enter in "DELETE FROM xyz WHERE keyField > -1;" and hit the run. Again, I run through all the ribbons, but all that presented me an option was to run through the Query Wizard. That option felt like a real chore, so I again asked the help file — ah, an option in the Options and Preferences screen to show the Query Design View on the ribbon. I go through the riga-ma-roll in loading up the Query Design View, and switching the view to SQL view. Ok, so now I entered in my statement, and I click on the Run Query button. This is where I would normally be greeted with about three warning statements asking me if I really wanted to delete 203 records.. Nothing. I start to look around again, and low and behold, "Sandbox Mode has blocked this command" is listed in the status bar..
Really? Microsoft thinks the DELETE command in SQL is a command that should be sand boxed? Ah, I know how to beat this pig… I write a quick ColdFusion template, insert my CFQUERY tag and run it. BAM! Same error! By now I’m getting really frustrated, but decided to give Microsoft another chance. Help file, here I come!
"If you trust a database and you want to run an expression that sandbox mode disables, you can run that expression by changing a registry key that disables sandbox mode. Remember that you must first trust a database to follow the steps in this section. Caution Incorrectly editing the registry may severely damage your operating system, requiring you to reinstall it. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems resulting from editing the registry incorrectly can be resolved. Before editing the registry, back up any valuable data. For the most recent information about using and protecting your computer’s registry, see Microsoft Windows Help. If you are not familiar with the registry or you are not comfortable with changing registry keys yourself, contact someone who is. Also, you must have administrator permissions on the computer to change the registry values. " Is the text RIGHT from the help file, along with the steps to change the registry keys.
So, general feeling…. Office 2007 -> meh. Access 2007 -> back to the drawing board to make it EASY TO USE and CONSISTANT again.