Join Adam Wilbert for an in-depth discussion in this video Introducing forms, part of Access 2013: Forms and Reports in Depth.
- One of the things that I really like about Access, is that it's not just a place to store data. Yes, we talk a lot about data, and records, and relationships, and queries, but where Access truly shines is in your ability to create a fully customized application that is uniquely tailored to your specific needs. Where this really becomes apparent, is when we start digging into forms. Forms are all about user interface. They provide the mechanisms that translate what you want to get done to the inner workings of the database. In fact, in a well designed Access database, there may never be a need to actually even see a datatable, or a query, or a relationships map.
Those are all background processes that organize input and output, and once they're set up properly should just work with little maintenance. Forms handle all of the grunt work of capturing user intent and moving it through the system. They help guide users through the available options. Now I'm currently in the database that we're gonna have created by the end of this course. The main starting point for this system is the Main Menu form, which is right down here. I'll go ahead and double-click on it to open it. We can see that we're inside of the KinetEco Database Main Menu. Here this gives us access to do a lot of things with our data.
For instance, I can view the Employee Directory, I'll click on this button, and the Employee Directory opens up. Where I can scroll through my different employees to see where they work. Let's go ahead and return to the Main Menu here. I can also take a look at our Product Listing if I wanted to, I'll click on this button here, here's my Product Listing, I can click through it to see all the different things that we sell. Let's go ahead and return to our Main Menu here. I can email reports, I'll just press this button here, and notice that a report gets packaged up and in just a moment we'll get into Outlook with my report attached to an email, ready to go.
Let's go ahead and close this Outlook window. Finally, I can even run reports based on my specifications. For instance, here we can see a Profit Summary, and I can choose what Year I want to see, and even which Product Category I want to see. I'll make some choices here on the form, and I'll press this button to see the Summary Report here. Let's go ahead and close this report. And that brings us right back to our Main Menu. So as an end user, that has never seen this database before, we can accomplish some specific tasks without having to dig at all into the Navigation Pane of all the underlying Tables, Queries, Forms and Reports.
Now if we think about Microsoft Word as a tool for creating documents, then we can say that Access is a tool for creating more specific tools. Now I know that that's kind of an abstract idea, so let me explain. You can use Access and have a fully operational database with nothing more than a few tables and queries. And in fact, that's where a lot of other database programs end. But when you layer on forms and reports on top of that data, you start creating something more. It becomes a custom application where Access, the program itself, doesn't really matter anymore. Access is kind of a unique program, in that it provides a framework for creating a customized application.
Unlike say, Microsoft Word, where you need to be somewhat familiar with the program to write a Word document, Access provides an environment where a novice user can get work done without having to know much at all about Access. And that's largely what creating a well designed form is all about. Your job is to create a system that makes moving around and interacting with the database easier and more streamlined so that someone, anyone really, can open up the file and feel comfortable getting data into and information out of the database. Your job, as the database designer, is to create the tools.
Then the course dives into reports: creating efficient and readable layouts, grouping data into categories, tying reports to queries, and using conditional formatting rules to highlight key takeaways from the data. Finally, Adam demonstrates how to link forms and reports together and print your results, and introduces unique ways to save time filling out paperwork and generating form letters.
- Creating forms with the Form Wizard
- Aligning form controls
- Adding buttons, links, and attachments to forms and reports
- Building database navigation elements
- Grouping and sorting data in reports
- Building reports from queries or wizards
- Calculating fields
- Linking forms and reports
- Printing and exporting reports