Announcing New Templates for Microsoft Access: Northwind 2.0 is here!
Published Apr 26 2023 02:31 PM 14.9K Views

Hello, I’m George Hepworth, a former Access MVP, and President of the Access Pacific User Group. This is my first blog post for Microsoft (Michael posted this for me) :)

I’m excited to represent a group of people in the Microsoft Access community that, like many of you, tolerated (but did not love) the Northwind Traders sample template in the product. The Northwind sample template was designed decades ago to be an example of an Access-based order entry system for a fictitious import/export company with customers who are grocery stores. But it had not been updated since 2006. Many of us were frustrated by some of the following issues like:

  • Northwind objects didn’t follow good naming conventions.
  • Tables didn’t always adhere to proper normalization.
  • Undocumented functionality could be confusing, especially for new, inexperienced Access users
  • No upgrades since 2006. The data is also from 2006
  • And other pet peeves we felt could be improved.

About 15 months ago, a group of us in the Access community decided to “be the change we wanted to see” in Access. Led by Access MVP Tom van Stiphout, we made a proposal to Microsoft and formed the Northwind 2.0 Working Group with the goal of fixing this situation and totally redesigning these templates.


Today, together with the Microsoft Access team, we are pleased to announce two brand new versions of the Microsoft Access Northwind templates, built from the ground up by the community, to meet the needs of both new users, and developers who are looking for advanced ways to build new solutions with Access.  


New Northwind Traders Starter Edition

Starter Edition.png

Our group designed and tested this with new users to give them a better way to get started learning about the potential of Microsoft Access.

  • It showcases Access features at a basic level, with a simpler yet correct relational design.
  • Our goal with this template is to show them what’s possible without feeling overwhelmed by the rich possibilities of a fully developed relational database application.
  • Built-in step by step video tutorial

Each template includes a new first run experience that takes you to a video tutorial so you can learn how to get the most out of these tools. To learn more, see the documentation and first run video tutorial, at Northwind Starter Edition on Microsoft Support.


New Northwind Traders Developer Edition

Developer Edition.png

As Access developers ourselves, everyone in the working group knew we needed to have a template that went beyond first-time users and met the needs of people like us who are learning as developers how to build solutions with Microsoft Access.


The Northwind Developer Edition template meets these developer needs by

  • Showcasing advanced Access features in a solid, working application using sound design principles and professional practices.
  • Implementing a more fully developed relational database application.
  • Re-designed to incorporate normalized tables, proper naming conventions, and professionally written code to enforce complex business rules.
  • Built-in step by step video tutorial for developers

For more information, see the new developer video tutorial and documentation here Northwind Developer Edition on Microsoft Support.


How do I get Northwind Starter and Developer Edition?

You now can find the templates inside Microsoft Access as of today (Access 2019 or later), by going to File > New, as shown in the following illustration. You can search on Northwind, or they will be presented as the first two templates you now see in the product.

Northwind Traders 2.0 Blog Post.png

Who is the Northwind 2.0 Working Group and how did this happen?

This is a fun story we’ll tell in a subsequent blog post. The short answer is this comes to you from a dedicated group of Access community volunteers called the Northwind 2.0 Working Group. We are:

Over the past 15 months, each of us partnered as volunteers and worked with the Microsoft Access team and Michael Aldridge, the former Access PM. Michael became a volunteer for the last 9 months with us, even after he moved on to a new role on Microsoft Loop in October of 2022, because he believed so much in this incredible volunteer community-driven effort to improve Access.


Our team is confident that we accomplished what we set out to do, with the help of many people who contributed along the way, from graphic designers to editors, to videographers, testers, and many others. Thank you to everyone!


Now it’s your turn!

  • Use it to learn. There is lots of code to review, and documentation to peruse.
  • Adapt it to your requirements. That is, after all, the Access Developer way.
  • Share your feedback with us! We’ll be watching the Access Tech Community forum, as well as other forums where Access developers hang out or leave your comments and feedback right here in this blog
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Last update:
‎Aug 10 2023 07:21 AM
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