Join Adam Wilbert for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating task-specific help dialog boxes, part of Access 2013: Tips & Tricks.
When working on Access databases I like looking for inspiration in unexpected places, such as early in the course when I talked briefly about borrowing ideas regarding graphics from web design. I also like exploring other programs and finding ideas that will enhance my database project. If we open up the Options menu by going to File and then Options, we'll see one of the things that has recently given me ideas for a new database enhancement. Here and there throughout the options screen, we'll see these little eye icons and when you hover over them, it gives you a tool tip with some additional information.
I'd like to borrow this idea and incorporate it into the KinetEco database itself. Let's go ahead and cancel out of the Access options. Now I would like to go ahead and add this type of element to my Edit Products form. I'm going to go ahead and click this button here to switch into the form. And then I'll right-click and switch it into Design View. Now in order to add this, what I want to do is go up here to the Design tab and choose the Label Control. I'll click it, and I'll come down here, and I'll type in a box. For the text I'm just going to type in the letter I. Now what I want to do is press enter to get out of that box and I want to change the font to the best use.
I can do that on the Format Tab and I'm going to change the font here to Webdings. Let me scroll down to the bottom and we'll find the font called Webdings. In the Webdings font the letter I character is actually an eye inside of a circle. Now, this label isn't currently connected to any controls. So if I get this little warning flag here, I can just click on the downward arrow and say ignore this error. Now let's go ahead and modify this design a little bit. I'm going to click on the bold icon here to make it a bold text. And I'll click on this A color here and change it to this blue down here on the bottom.
Now in order to keep this I character in the bottom left hand corner of my form, I'm going to go up to the Arranged tab, and choose Anchoring and say, Bottom Left. Now, it'll stay attached to the bottom left hand corner. Go ahead, and use my arrow keys to just nudge it into the corner a little bit more, and there's the design. Now what I need to do is control what happens when the user clicks on this. For that, I'm going to go over to the Event tab, and on the On Click event, I'm going to add a new macro by clicking the build button, choosing the Macro Builder, and saying okay. Here, I'm going to use a macro that shows a message box.
So my macro action is going to be message box. The message is going to be the bottom portion of this form is for display only. To edit a product, select it from the list, and modify the fields above. I'm going to change the beep property from yes to no, use the drop down list and chose no. For type I'm going to choose information, so it has a nice icon that matches the eye character that we're using the click on, and for the title, we're going to choose editing products. Okay, lets go ahead and test out our macro. I'll close it and save the changes, and I'll take my form, I'll save it and switch it into Form View.
Now I've got this little I character here, if I click on it, we'll get the Editing Products dialogue box with same kind of I icon right here. And it says The bottom of this form is for displays only. To edit the product select it from the list and modify the field above. So now my users know how to interact with this particular form. And they wont be confused if they try and edit a product down here in the bottom. Now there's a couple of different fonts that we can use for generating icons. Let me show you a couple of others. I'm going to press the windows key to jump out to the start screen for a second and I'm just going to start typing character map. The Character Map will allow you to explore the different fonts that you have installed on your system, and see the various symbols that are contained within.
Let's take a look at this drop-down list to see all the different fonts I have on my computer. Now when you're displaying this form on a different computer, you want to make sure they have the same symbol fonts that you're using in your development. Now for most people, they can be pretty confident that the Webdings here, and the Wingdings fonts, Wingdings 1, 2, and 3 will most likely be installed on every Windows computer you come across. And each of these contain lots of different symbols that we can make use of in our database designs. And if you know that you end users will also be on a Windows 8 machine, you can take a look at a font called Seigo UI Emoji or Seigo UI Symbol.
These fonts will also contain lots of new symbols that we can make use of in our database. So there's the Emoji font, and if I take a look at the symbol font here, we'll see that we have lots of other symbols that we could make use of throughout this font. In order to use one of these symbols, basically you just select the symbol you want to use, say select, and then copy, and that'll copy it to your clipboard. Then it's just a matter of going back into your database and pasting in a position. So there's two points that I want to make with this video. One is the practical application of providing help to your users, by scattering small informational message boxes throughout your interface, you create an easy way to help your users right where and when they might need it.
But the second, and maybe the more important point that I like to make with this, is inspiration for the types of things that you can include in your database project can come from anywhere. There is nothing really special about the control we just built. It's just a simple text label, a creative use of an icon font, and a very basic macro, but being inspired by seeing that kind of device elsewhere, and incorporating that idea into the database, is a great lesson to think about as you develop your own projects.
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