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Windows 10 April 2018 Update - New Timeline Feature is why I LOVE the new Microsoft


Today Microsoft announced all of the new features in the Windows 10 April update and one really caught my eye: Timeline. It pretty much allows you to backtrack and fine that latest email or file you were working on. In the past I’d just open the program in question and look at the history, but with Timeline I can go straight to what I’m looking for right away.


How does it affect Microsoft Access?

We’ve been programming Timeline into our programs for years now, it’s a great way for example to find which customer you looked at in the past but can’t quite remember their name. What if we could have the native OS track the records in question for us? We could look at our timeline and open the database, load the record and viola, I’m in business.


I suspect the new feature would only work with files, but I’d love to see this go further,  if it does it for URL’s, why not records?


6 Replies

Thanks for the heads up, Juan!

I was wondering what the new Timeline feature was being advertised during update.
I've never used Task View much myself, but may be worth it now (vs gesture mapping + Alt-Tab).

I like were you are going with this idea of allowing users to navigate back to previous records via Windows Timeline.

Maybe something that could help make support for Access records in Windows Timeline feasible (and without requiring as much Access-specific customization of Timeline) is having Microsoft Access provide general support for assigning URLs + query parameters to Forms in Access, together with an msaccess:// protocol handler. 


Then we could navigate back to a particular form, report, query or other Access object, optionally with a specific record, built-in Filter/Sort state or other custom state parameters.  This could make it possible to navigate to a specific view for a specific record, or just a form or report in general via Windows Timeline.

If Microsoft Access team provided support for an msaccess:// protocol, then that could also be used to provide generalized backwards/forwards (with form opening and filter/sort/focus change history) navigation. Then, even without requiring Windows team to buy into this idea, the Access team could deliver most of the benefit, in allowing backwards/forwards view state navigation. The Access team could even expose this state via a new Recent Records/Objects menu in File > Open > Recent dialog, a separate Records/Objects Timeline dialog, and/or Backwards/Forwards buttons (+ history drop-down) similar to Undo/Redo in Access or Forward/Backwards in Visual Studio.


Ideally Access would make this possible without the same absolute file paths among users, such as with support for a series of known "search paths" for databases (eg. possibly even using paths defined at Access Options > Trust Center > Trusted Locations) and/or placeholder or environment variable (eg. {UserFolder}, {User/DefaultNetworkShareFolder}) which could be used to locate a database by name. Database path resolving could be quite useful in and of itself, for database references and other purposes.


Moreover, with the death of Access Web Apps, the ability to launch Access straight to a specific database, with a specific form, report or record from, for example, SharePoint, PowerApps, Power BI or a link on a web page or in an email would IMO go a long way towards making Access databases more web-friendly/integrated and feasible to use in more cases where otherwise would have ended up building an Access Web App, back before were deprecated.


Especially considering that, for some reason, PowerApps (despite often being pushed as the "Access Web Apps replacement") still can't use Access database as a data source, despite Power BI supporting it via the same shared On-Premises Gateway, that would be a big boon, in my opinion, to encouraging more Access use in the face of frequent web/cloud migrations.

On that note, does anyone know why PowerApps still doesn't support use of Access Databases as a data source, despite sharing the same On-Premises Gateway which enables Power BI to connect to Access databases?


Any chance we could this finally supported? Or anyone with some clout with PowerApps or Access team who could help make that possible?


Just creating or voting for a feature request on User Voice seems unlikely to make that happen if still hasn't happened already.


It seems counter-intuitive IMO that something marketed as an "Access Web Apps" replacement like PowerApps (and which presumably justifies no longer needing Access Web Apps to be supported) wouldn't even allow connections to Access databases.


That is, unless doing so is a conscious part of what seemed to be Microsoft's earlier push to encourage migrating away from Access (eg. the initial attempt to remove from most Office subscriptions/editions until user backlash saw it added to more editions instead).



I know that using an Access database as a back-end isn't as reliable or high-performance as SQL Server or Azure SQL as a back-end, but it seems like a step up in many cases compared to just using an Excel workbook as a back-end (via On-Premises Gateway or OneDrive), which is a primary use case for PowerApps. 

Providing support for Access databases in PowerApps would IMO go a long ways towards increasing PowerApps adoption and likely use cases, as well as encouraging more users to stick with easily-editable Access databases vs. porting to Common Data Service (not always so intuitive) or SQL Server (not easy for end-users / or subject matter experts like Financial Analysts to modify and maintain without IT or consultant involvement).

I totally upvote this one

@DanMoorehead_PowerWeb5AI wrote:

On that note, does anyone know why PowerApps still doesn't support use of Access Databases as a data source, despite sharing the same On-Premises Gateway which enables Power BI to connect to Access databases?

 It is a major concern not to have clear indications on major features like that in a roadmap for 2019.

I agree. I'd very much like to have an idea if/when may end up seeing PowerApps support for connections to Access databases, which are already supported via same shared On-Premises Gateway, but only for Power BI. 


Can anyone on Access, PowerApps or Power BI team answer that one, or any else familiar with the reason for that limitation currently?

Though there already is an ms-access:// protocol, I would suggest such links behaving as described in previous post, and enabling use of them even from internet security zone websites by default (as isn't the case) in order to maximize feasibility of using Access with otherwise web-based use cases.


Does anyone have links to documentation regarding the format and behavior of ms-access:// protocol links or can otherwise detail this?