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, 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 the user interface. They provide the mechanisms that translate what it is that 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 set up properly should just work with little maintenance. Forms handle all the grunt work of capturing user intent and moving it through the system. They help guide users through all of the available options. Now, I've gone ahead and open up the Exercise File that we'll finish this course with. This is the 1-1 TwoTreesCompleted Access database. Now, you might have noticed at the beginning the splash screen has started up, that helps tell our end-users that what's about to happen, that is loading the Two Trees Olive Oil Company database. Once that's on the screen for a few seconds, it disappears and the Main Menu appears.
Now, I have a bunch of available options. I can choose for instance to view the employee directory. I'll click this. I can look through my employees, when I'm done reviewing this I can return to the Main Menu. I can also do things like enter a product review or perhaps I want to add a new customer, I'll click that. My Add a New Customer form is open, I can enter in the information and save the customer or I can cancel that entry. I'll press Cancel. I can even do things like Email Orders. I'm going to e-mail this report to somebody. I'll click on the button, Access package set up as a PDF file, it even opens up Outlook and addresses the e-mail and attaches it right here, ready for me to send.
I'll go ahead and close Outlook. So, as an end-user that has never even seen this database before, we can accomplish some very specific tasks without even digging into any say Navigation Pane here on the left or any of the buttons that might appear on the Ribbon. If you think about Word as a tool for creating documents then Access is a tool for creating more tools. Now, I know that's a little abstract, 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 or access the program doesn't really even matter anymore. You've created a custom tool that operates within Access but is 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 your organization. Your job as the 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