[AccessD] Is it over for desktop apps?

Arthur Fuller fuller.artful at gmail.com
Sun Sep 11 11:17:22 CDT 2022

Recently I came across (on Quora) the following remark regarding fully
fledged desktop applications. "Personally I think those days are nearly
over and it would be best to move to the cloud straight away."

Although technically I am retired and have been so for a number of years, I
spent a good number of years developing desktop apps, primarily in Access
but also in a couple of other languages.

The term "desktop apps" includes both strictly desktop (both FE and BE on
the same machine) and apps that live on a small network, with the BE living
on a server. I have never written an app that lives in the cloud, even
though I have a license to MS 365. Mostly my experience with the cloud is
off-site backup. I tend to develop locally, so to speak, and then copy to
OneDrive frequently.

I'm curious as to your experience.

1. Do you develop apps for use on the cloud? If so, approximately what
percentage of your apps live there?
2. Assuming that the client of interest has an internet connection, is
there any reason to develop your apps *not *for the cloud?
3. Are there shortcomings (specifically with Office in mind) to
cloud-based-apps that desktops apps do not suffer? I mention Office because
many if not most of the apps I've written in the past couple of decades
have consisted of pieces written in Access, Word and Excel; a few of these
are quite elaborate, involving exports to Excel first, then creating tables
within Word documents, formatted according to standards mandated by various
provincial governments, and in Canada that may also involve translation
from English to French.

Let's stick to Access, for the moment. I have only a little experience
deploying apps to hundreds or thousands of users. Mainly I've worked with
smallish corporations or government branches with, give or take, a hundred
users in a few cities, all connected to a Windows Terminal Server. My
thoughts back then were that the FE should reside locally, on each box; and
I took the time to create a self-extracting EXE which would deposit the
latest install or update locally, with its connection to the server baked

Bear in mind that in a couple of months I'll be 75yo, and so have probably
--nay, certainly -- fallen far behind current thinking and technologies. So
I'm asking for you to help me patch and paddle this leaking canoe.

Should I be thinking exclusively in terms of the cloud? Is it essentially
over for local servers (one per office, approximately)? If so, does that
mean that the market for local servers is over? What advantage is to be
gained, if any, by having a local server, as opposed to running it all on
the cloud?

And now we return to the classic question, albeit with a cloudy twist.
Should the FE reside in the cloud, as well as the BE?

And finally, can I copyright the name McCloud? Of course, I dropped the "e"
and I know it! I am also confused by the spellings of "McX" and "MacX",
wherein "X" stands for anything from "Donald" to "Hoolihan" to "Robertson"
and any other letters I've left out -- oops, cannot omit Mathew Matthew
McConnaughey. There are names of towns in Wales easier to spell than
Matthew's surname. It's only fair: you can't be that handsome and have a
name like "Bill Smith" or even worse, "Arthur Fuller.
*Back to the Cloud*, the original subject of this admittedly incherent
message. As so accused, I plead Guilty to the charge of Incoherence. In the
past month, I have suffered two strokes, and while still able to speak and
type, walking has become an issue. As William Burroughs said, "If I'd known
I were going to live this long, I should have taken better care of myself."
(Being a fussbudget, I corrected his spelling.)
New idea for the next Olympics: Aquatic Spelling Bees. The contestants wear
waterproof earphones and listen to the words to spell, and then enunciate
them underwater -- something similar to two divers trying to communicate
distress while two hundred feet beneath the water's surface. That could be
serious fun!


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