Microsoft Ending Access Services for SharePoint Online
Microsoft plans to end Access Services for SharePoint Online, starting in June.
Access Services is a means for building SharePoint applications using the Microsoft Access database management system. The applications created using Access Services become accessible in a Web browser.
It's possible to use Access Services with SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Server 2010, and Microsoft even added new capabilities to Access Services with the release of SharePoint Server 2016. It will still be possible to use Access Services with Microsoft's supported SharePoint Server products, as well as future server releases, Microsoft promised, in its announcement:
We will include Access Services and Access Web Apps in the next version of SharePoint Server. Access Web Apps and Access Services will continue to be supported in all current versions of on-premises SharePoint servers for the remainder of the product lifecycle.
However, Access Services support will be ending for SharePoint Online. The ability to create new Access apps for SharePoint Online will end in June 2017. Microsoft will shut down any created apps by April 2018, according to the announcement.
Microsoft is pointing SharePoint Online users of Access Services to instead build their applications using PowerApps and Microsoft Flow. PowerApps is Microsoft's template-driven application creation solution, while Microsoft Flow is a workflow automation creation tool frequently compared to the IFTTT mashup service.
The announcement claimed that the transition to PowerApps has been eased somewhat by a new feature Microsoft added. It lets users export Access Web app data to SharePoint Lists, as described in this support document. It's also possible to export Access Web app data to an Access desktop database, as described here. A third approach is to migrate Access Web app data to SQL Server, according to Microsoft's "Access Services in SharePoint Roadmap" document.
Microsoft recently announced a downloadable document for SharePoint Online users that's designed to take them through the steps of using PowerApps, Microsoft Flow and Power BI. In addition, Microsoft promised that future help will be arriving for SharePoint Online users who are struggling with Access Services conversions.
"In the coming months, we intend to share any tips/tricks/gotchas discovered while assisting customers through this time of transition exporting their data and finding replacement solutions," a recent TechNet blog post claimed.
Microsoft's feature deprecation announcement doesn't pertain to Access database files. It just concerns Access Services for SharePoint Online.
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Vlad Catrinescu early on noted the deprecation of Access Services for SharePoint Online. He added that Microsoft's pledge of support for Access Services with the next SharePoint Server release was "another proof" that Microsoft's server product plans are still continuing.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.