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The first AI Add-In for Access

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

The cover image is from my latest Access News video, where I featured the topic. To my surprise, there were very few reactions to it. Summer slump? Commercial tool? Anyway, I want to point out here again that AI means a paradigm shift also for the work with Access, whether we like it or not.

Unregulated competition, copyright, use of personal data, misuse and liability, lack of impact assessments, extreme energy consumption – just some of the open issues with the current developments in artificial intelligence. That's why I signed the Open Letter for the 6-month pause and hope for legal frameworks like the EU AI Act soon.

At the same time, I realize that AI cannot be stopped for the most part. Microsoft is integrating it into all of its software products. Access, as a desktop-only product, is again at the back of the queue. Principal Engineering Manager Dale Rector, said at our April 2023 DevCon that they are watching the topic, but nothing concrete is foreseeable for Access yet.

So, it's a third-party vendor that's delivering. Austrian Alexander Denz and his company SD Win have released the first comprehensive AI tool for Access, the SDOpenAI Access Add-In, which consists of 2 main parts.

1) A ribbon for the end user's UI with these AI components:

So, it offers a couple of text functions and opening the OpenAI chat client, aka ChatGPT.

Alexander has been using a special version in his ERP software for a few months and says that his customers use it mainly for faster communication, have business emails written, etc. However, the ribbon design and functions can be largely adapted to the needs of the developer's own applications.

2) Integration into the Visual Basic Editor as command bar. Here, the tool currently provides these AI functions:

The AI explains VBA code, completes (essentially creates) it, or provides suggestions for improvements. The developer can again customize this integration by changing the prompts that are sent to OpenAI's Web API in the underlying text files.

Demos, pricing and details can be found here:

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