One of the things that I really like about Access is that it's not just a place to store data. Yeah, we talk a lot about data and records and relationships and queries, but where Access truly shines is in its ability to create a fully customized application that is uniquely tailored to your specific needs. Where this really becomes apparent is when we start to 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 data table, 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. I'm going to go ahead and open up the completed file from this course. This 1-1 TwoTreesCompleted. I will double-click on it to open it in Access and we will see a couple of things happen. First, we have a splash screen that tells the end-user what's going on, that we're loading the Two Trees Olive Oil Company database.
The next thing I see is a Main Menu screen, and here it presents me with a lot of options that I can do within the database. For instance, I can View the Employee Directory. If I click on this button here, it takes me to the Employee Directory for the company. I can scroll through the list to see all of our employees, or I can return to the Main Menu using this button here. Going down the list I can enter a Product Review. If I click this button, I get a window showing me reviews for the products. I can return to the Main Menu and Add a new customer to my database by clicking this button.
The Add a new customer form opens, allows me to type in the values and Save that Customer, or decide I don't want to do this and Cancel out. I will go ahead and say Cancel Entry. I can also Export Customers to an Excel file or email a report to an employee. I also have options to Exit this Database, here. So knowing nothing about this database going into it, we can accomplish some very specific tasks without even digging into the navigation system. If you think about Word as a tool for creating documents, then Access is really a tool for creating more specific tools.
I know 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 Forms and Reports on top of that data, you start creating something more. It becomes a custom application where Access, the program, doesn't really matter anymore. You have created a custom tool that operates within Access, but it's tailored to your specific needs, because in the end, unlike with Word, the database file really isn't the end goal.
The end goal is to have a place to store data, to retrieve records easily, and to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. Your job as a database designer is to create the tool.
- Designing for the end user
- Organizing form elements
- Formatting a form
- Adding headers
- Linking to external content
- Entering and selecting data
- Adding charts
- Creating a main menu
- Creating a customer form
- Understanding report structure
- Building reports from wizards and queries
- Printing reports