Windward’s philosophy is that if you have data stored in a medium, you should be able to use our software to create beautiful looking reports.
But we have found that while Microsoft Access® and Excel® files are great for portability, they do not always offer the best standardized support for information retrieval.
Access, Excel and SQL Server Specifications
Windward queries Access and Excel as if they were SQL-based structures. But because these two data sources are not fully SQL-compliant, the results are not consistent with the results from the other SQL-based data sources with which Windward connects.
Consider Excel, which allows users to specify more than one data type in a column (something that is not allowed in regular SQL). If you have a worksheet already built with many tables overlapping the same column, you’ll get mixed data results when querying directly.
Or take Microsoft Access, which although is closer to SQL, is still not fully SQL-compliant. Dates become a problem to filter, wildcards use %’s instead of *’s, and the syntax of LIKE needs to be changed to ALIKE.
What does all of this mean for you?
We know that we have built working code for accessing Excel and Access data sources, and our customers are actively using it. That is okay, and the code is going to remain in our codebase. So you can still use Windward to connect with data in your Access and Excel data sources.
But we cannot in good conscience say that we fully support these data sources when they are not up to SQL standards.
That is why, starting in version 14, Windward will no longer officially support existing or new features in Microsoft Access and Excel data sources. Instead, they will be peer-supported via our Windward Forums.
Moving beyond Access and Excel
A few months ago I wrote about why, if you’re storing your data in Microsoft Excel or Access, it’s a good idea to consider eventually migrating to a Microsoft SQL Server® solution.
If you are curious about how to move to this more efficient data storage medium, please check out my blog post on Data Evolution.
Author: Ryan Fligg
Ryan, Windward's Sales Engineer, has been with Windward since 2006 in many roles as a sales engineer, IT specialist and account executive. Ryan's background fuels his desire to guide Windward's product development. He now works on the future vision of Windward offerings through creating the product roadmap, responding to customer requests, and communicating what Windward is doing and where it’s headed.
Other posts by Ryan Fligg