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Mis-Represented and a Rip-Off?
on 12 October 2015
Unlike earlier editions of this book, the 2013 version of Access Inside-Out is a positively slimline ~800 pages. So how, you might be wondering, did MS Press manage to cram in all the extra new features of Access 2013 into such a slimline tome? The answer is: they didn't bother. Instead, fully 75% [the first 600 pages] are spent entirely on discussing the Sharepoint/Web integration that comes as a new feature in Access 2013. From a desktop user's perspective, the book scrapes by with 3 chapters: one on the user interface, one on designing tables and one on modifying table design. The paper edition covers nothing of value on macros, writing applications, queries, reports or any of the multitude other features that Access supports.
However, these aspects of the book (Chapters 12 through 27) are included in "PDF Only" format, which you can get via download from the MS Press web site when you register your copy of the book [personal email details required]. As another example of the web-driven bias of the book, the "sample" files offered have to be uploaded to a Sharepoint site to work... Fine if you work for a company or want to be dependent on a net connection and the Microsoft Cloud, useless for anything else. The is a needless dependency, likely designed to encourage people to adopt the MS Cloud service, but forcing it into the book seems pointless.
The real issue from my perspective, however, is that unlike previous copies of the Inside Out series, the 2013 edition does not provide a complete copy of the book in PDF form as an enclosed CD with the paper copy. If you want this you have to *buy* a second copy of the book, for the delightful sum of an extra $39.99 [plus the currency conversion charges levied if you are not a US citizen]. The reasoning for this is hinted at within the MS Press web site itself, where it explains that if you do purchase an "eBook copy" [i.e. complete PDF] then your copy will be "personalised" with your own name embedded in it as a watermark. This strongly suggests that Microsoft have done this because people were buying and sharing the PDF copies of the book. Well, OK, but why charge another £39.99 for something that up until this release was free? That's just blatant profiteering...
So: Access 2013 Inside Out is likely to be of interest for anyone wanting to use Access to Develop complex web applications they plan to host via Sharepoint. It does have another 900 pages of "traditional" Access content available via download only [no CD] and if you'd like an electronic copy of the portion that *is* provided on paper, that will cost you another $39.99...
1. Good introduction to "Access for the Web" and Sharepoint integraiton
1. The traditional use of databases has been relegated to chapters carried only in a downloadable, watermarked, PDF
2. The fonts size of the paper book remains offensively small at 4 point [18 characters to the inch]. Most books publish at 10 point [12 characters to the inch] and good ones at 12 point [10 characters to the inch].
3. If you want to work with a purely electronic copy [i.e. to avoid going blind thanks to the stupidly small print size], you will have to pay out another $40... [if this was your intent then don't buy the paper edition - go direct to the MS Press web site and get the eBook version].
On balance, even if you're in need of a book covering the integration from Access to Sharepoint, I'd have to recommend that you look somewhere else. This publication does not deserve your patronage.