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  1. #1
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    Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    Someone over on the Access L list suggested that I cross post this question on this list also, so here goes:

    The state tax dept. tells me the databases I have built for my customers
    using Microsoft Access (all versions) do not qualify as "customized
    software" because, although each is designed to meet the specific data
    processing needs of a customer, they use a commercial or "canned" database
    engine. So, what do you think: are databases designed and run with Access
    actually "custom software" or are just an extension of a commercial product?

    I would certainly welcome the opinion of those of you who've been developing
    custom databases with Access.

    Thanks,
    Garnette

  2. #2
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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    I'm sure opinions on this one will vary widely, but I thought I would chime in first.
    Does a customized software application require a custom-written database engine? If that's the case then applications written to make use of Access, SQL Server, Oracle, and any other commercial database server/platform will fail to meet this standard.

    I believe Access is completely a custom software application. Granted, it has quite a few more built-in features than most programming interfaces, but it is still a "build-from-the-ground-up" application.

    In my mind, an application that would NOT qualify as a customized application would be anything that is already written for a specific (give or take) purpose - already having a data structure, interface, and reports. An example of this would be Quicken or MS Money. There is quite a bit of customizing you can do with those applications, but the basic application is "canned" when you open the box.

    HTH <img src=/S/2cents.gif border=0 alt=2cents width=15 height=15>

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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    I'm with Mark on this for sure. The applications we build don't look anything like a simple database built with the Wizards. And there is lots of code to do functions that should surely count as "customized" for both the accountants and the state tax department. In all large development jobs, the accountants are capitalizing new development work we do. If their logic held true, then anything you do with Oracle or SQL Server or DB2 or . . . . . wouldn't count as customized software either. I guess this confirms my opinion of the tax folks.
    Wendell

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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    I vote with the majority here. My employer markets commercial applications built in Access 97 to the drilling industry. You couldn't get much more customized than this. Sounds like somebody in the tax department has been listening to the VB afficianados who insist that Access isn't a "real" programming environment. <img src=/S/crazy.gif border=0 alt=crazy width=15 height=15>
    Charlotte

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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    i also vote with the opinion expressed thus far. In fact, I would go so far as to say, lay one line of code and it's a custom app.

    If you're fond of analogies: If you buy a cake mix, add an egg & milk, and bake - whose cake is it, Duncan Hines, or yours? Interestingly enough, DH says its YOUR cake.

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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    I wouldn't go that far, Peter. To me that would make it a "customized" app, not quite the same thing as a custom app.
    Charlotte

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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    How about making the application an Access runtime?

    This way the user would not need Access to run the application.

    Surely that would satisfy the tax people.

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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    This may not be applicable but, depending how far and how deep the litigation may go

    Visual/Access Basic Is Both a Compiler and an Interpreter (Q109382)

    http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?...b;EN-US;q109382

  9. #9
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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    Hi Garnette

    I'm with the rest of the pack.

    Out of the box Access is a just a tool and does very little.

    You are the customizer that turns it into a solution.

    Give them the tool and have them show you your solution.

    John

    PS: I do customize software for municipalities in NY, to avoid having my clien't going out to bid, I use NY's own interpertation to avoid cpmpetition.

    You should check this out wity your state

    HTH

    Please note that each opinion reflects the status of the law at the time it was rendered and, therefore, may not represent the current view of the State Comptroller's Office.
    Opns St Comp, No. 88-35

    PUBLIC CONTRACTS -- Professional Services (computer software or programming services); (combination of purchase of commodity and professional services) -- Sole Source (acquisition of unique computer software) -- Contracts Requiring Bidding (purchase of canned or prepackaged computer software)

    GENERAL MUNICIPAL LAW, 103:

    (1) The purchase of prepackaged or canned computer software constitutes the purchase of a commodity for competitive bidding purposes and does not fall within the professional services exception.

    (2) The services of a programmer to develop computer software which is customized to meet the particular needs of a municipality may be acquired without competitive bidding under the professional services exception.

    (3) Whether the purchase of prepackaged or canned software which is modified falls within the professional services exceptions depends on whether the professional service component of the contract is the primary or predominant part of the acquisition and whether there is an inextricable integration of professional services and the physical component.

    (4) When a contract falls within the professional service exception to competitive bidding, it is generally advisable to seek competition through the use of requests for proposals or, where appropriate, a less formal method, to assure an award is made in the best interest of the municipality and not in an arbitrary or capricious manner.

    (5) In appropriate circumstances, pre-packaged or canned software whose performance or functions are unique in the marketplace may be acquired without competitive bidding under the sole source exception if the software uniquely serves the public interest and is available from only one source.

    Prior opinions superseded to the extent inconsistent.

  10. #10
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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    Just for the record, I'm with everyone else.

    If what the tax department say is the case, then anything I build with VB6 or VB.NET (or any other language) would not be a custom app either! Does that mean anything I build that is custom, has to be done in binary ? or machine code ? Hmmmmph?

    I guess at the end of the day, it comes down to how the 'law' (and I guess it must be tax law) defines a custom app...so maybe you need to find that out.

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    A test

    Here's a test. Open Access. Open New Database. See what a customer can do with what is there without any development work on their part.

    Obviously they can't do anything, because there is nothing there.

    Saying a developed Access application is not custom because the database engine is commercially available is like saying a cabinetmakers cabinets are not custom because the wood, screws, nails, glue, and tools to make them are all commercially available.

    In other words, that tax person is stupid.

  12. #12
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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    I would have to strongly agree with the opinion that access apps qualify as "customized software" with one exception. That is if you were to use one of the built in wizard apps and try to pass it off as "custom" but I don't think any developer worth their weight in bits would do that.

  13. #13
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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    Maybe my lines are more potent than yours? <img src=/S/rofl.gif border=0 alt=rofl width=15 height=15>

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    Re: A test

    There are rules for some (eg. the Tax people, no matter what Country, they always please themselves) and there are rules for the rest of us.

    Sad but true.

  15. #15
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    Re: Are these databases 'software'? (All versions)

    Never happen! <img src=/S/evilgrin.gif border=0 alt=evilgrin width=15 height=15>
    Charlotte

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