Earlier this quarter, Microsoft made the bold move of retiring all live instances of their online database system, Access Web Apps (AWAs, for short). This left thousands stranded when the service was taken off the air, leading several disgruntled users to criticize the fickle decision.

Nevertheless, users still had multiple options to choose from in their search for viable alternatives to online database management. They could:

  • Revert to using desktop-based versions of Microsoft Access. However,¬†Large teams spanning multiple locations cannot efficiently work together on desktop-based database systems.
  • Rely on online SharePoint lists as a stand-in for Access Web Apps.¬†However,¬†They possess severely limited functionality compared to Access Web Apps, let alone competing cloud-based databases.
  • Set up SharePoint server environments and run database ecosystems on them.¬†However,¬†They are relatively more expensive to set up, difficult to customize, and lack a mobile component entirely.

OR…

Switch to cloud-based low-code database management systems.

The fourth option is clearly the most practical one. After all, low-code databases have been all the rage in recent years, empowering businesses to rapidly build customized database applications for themselves, without having to rely on the expertise of IT service providers.

Apparently, Microsoft thought so too. Their long-term vision was to gently nudge existing users towards the adoption of their latest no-code offering, PowerApps. Unfortunately, the nudge came out as more of a didactic shove, but it got the idea across clearly enough.

The flaw in the plan.

There’s a catch. While PowerApps does appear to be a promising new venture, it also:

  • Is brand new, and does not have a consistent track record with customers.
  • Is a new service that’s continuously undergoing development, and hence, cannot fully reproduce the functionality of an¬†AWA.
  • Is a risky proposition migration-wise, being addled with issues such as data loss, and a slow, kludgy process with multiple steps.
  • Is not self-sufficient. It relies on integrations with other Microsoft services for certain tasks,¬†like workflows and reporting.
  • Is a no-code platform, as opposed to a low-code¬†platform. In other words, you don’t have to code to build an app, but giving an app advanced logic would require you to have prior experience writing code.

Is PowerApps ready for the big stage yet?¬†We’ll let you be the judge of that.

On that note, we’d like to suggest a better solution.

Zoho Creator: The next big thing in low-code development.

If you’re in the market for a fully-featured web database application, Zoho Creator is one product you should really be considering. It’s got all the functionality AWAs had to offer, and that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what it’s truly capable of. It’s been around for a decade, but of course, we have other reasons for recommending it:

  • Almost every aspect of the platform relies on a simple drag-and-drop interface that focuses on minimizing coding.
  • It’s completely mobile-ready. Apps built on the web are automatically available as native apps on mobile platforms.
  • You can automate workflows and add logic to your application with the easy-to-use script builder.
  • Gathering information is as intuitive as it is convenient. Zoho Creator’s forms support several different field types, ranging from Rich Text to multimedia.
  • Data analytics gets a whole lot easier. From your basic pivot charts to advanced styles like Kanban boards, calendar reports, and even maps, all it takes to generate a report is one click.
  • You can build¬†exhaustive dashboards without writing a single line of code. That’s right, what usually takes weeks to build can be assembled in¬†less than a couple of hours.
  • The platform integrates seamlessly with a number of external services via built-in integrations, APIs, and/or Zapier.

Change is good.

Migrating your Web App (or Access Database, for that matter) to Zoho Creator is quick, easy, and comprehensive. We’ve even got a handy tool for it. The best part? If you purchase our annual Premium plan, we’ll throw in two extra months with your subscription, completely on the house.

Still with us? Migrate your Web App or database to Zoho Creator, now!