So, there's a bit of a shouting match over at Brent's place, which got me thinking not how Access
sucks is lacking, or how to use it as a piñata (which is admittedly fun!) but instead why DBAs have such hosility toward it. Why the crazy twitch? Why the lashing out? The answer, for me at least, is only half related to Access itself.
Many emergency room nurses do not like motorcycles. Is it because motorcycles are "evil?" Or because they are poor quality, inferior products? No, it's mainly because if you spend your time stitching people back together who have fallen off of motorcycles, and that is your only contact with motorcycles, it changes your viewpoint.
Many DBAs have been called in to rescue people, or teams, or projects who have mission critical Access applications gone horribly wrong. It's very unpleasant, especially the typical discussion we have to have with the Access afficionado -- who probably authored the thing, and is at that moment feeling quite defensive and more than a little worried -- that explains why it's important when you outgrow Access to ditch their entire app, move the data to an RDBMS and rewrite the UI from scratch. A new UI, incidentally, that they can't write because it won't be VBA. It's no fun. I think this experience, oft repeated, is the source of most of the hostility.
I will go out on a limb here, and even though I suffer the same twitch from rescuing people in that very scenario, I will say that there is a place for a simple desktop, or small workgroup, all-in-one database app where no coding is required. Further out on this limb, I will admit that when people ask me which one they should use, my answer is always FileMaker Pro, not Access (Stop laughing! I'm serious!). Why? Because it has a much better user interface, and it genuinely meets the need: a fairly technical person not capable of or interested in coding, with no "IT Department" can make a small scale, decent little database and do useful things. If you outgrow it, you throw it away - without also throwing out thousands of lines of custom VBA code. There's less expectation that you can run a big team or a huge database on FileMaker. And yes, SQL Server Express is awesome, but I am talking here about having a full, authoring UI for a non-coder to make useful forms and data and get immediate value from his PC.
So, for me the real issue with Access is its hole-digging tendency. Someone starts down the Access road and only later, after a huge investment of time, learning and resources, realizes they've dug a hole and jumped in. When it doesn't work any longer or won't scale, it's just so painful. There's no real upgrade path (only the illusion of an upgrade path, which makes this even more bitter) and the "SQL Server integration" options are terrible. Ultimately, they have to call in the Emergency Room DBA. That's where the twitch comes from.