Although the task analysis and data analysis phases of application development haven't changed much since the days of mainframes, the prototyping phase has changed. In working with mainframes or DOS-based languages, it was important to develop detailed specifications for each screen and report. I remember requiring users to sign off on every screen and report. Even a change such as moving a field on a screen required a change order and approval for additional hours. After the user signed off on the screen and report specifications, the programmers would spend days working arduously to develop each screen and report. They would return to the user after many months, only to hear that everything was wrong. This meant back to the drawing board for the developer and many additional hours before the user could once again review the application.

The process is quite different now. As soon as you have outlined the tasks and the data analysis is complete, you can design the tables and establish relationships among them. The form and report prototype process can then begin. Rather than the developer going off for weeks or months before having further interaction with the user, the developer needs only a few days, using the Access wizards to quickly develop form and report prototypes. They can then present these to the users, get users' feedback, and continue to refine the application. Application development today is an iterative process.

    Part III: Creating Your Own Database and Objects
    Part V: Advanced Topics