In a well designed Access database, Forms streamline the interface so that data entry work can be done by other users without knowledge of the inner workings of Access. In this movie, Adam displays the the finished database that will have been created by the end of the course, and shows how a clear navigation system is beneficial to the end user.
- [Voiceover] 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 your ability to create a fully-customized application that's 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 data table, or a query, or a relationship screen.
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 the grunt work of capturing user intent and moving it through the system; they help guide users through the available options. 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 this this main menu form that I've got on the screen right now. Here, we can do things like view the employee directory, you can see that opens up right here. When I'm done taking a look through these different records, I can press return to main menu and get back right back to where I started.
I can enter data into the database using this enter a new customer dialogue box; that will allow me to type in the values that I want and either save and close, or cancel and exit. If I want to get out of here, just press return to main menu and we'll get back to the start. I can even view a product listing if I wanted to or return to the main menu. We can even interact with the items that get returned. Here I have a profit summary report, where we can select some parameters. From a drop-down list I can choose which month I want to see. For instance, I'll choose February. I can also choose a region. Let's take a look at the Midwest in February.
I'll press the view report button and I get a report that is custom-tailored to just the selections that I just made. Let's go ahead and close this down and that'll return us to the main menu. I can also choose an employee from our list. I can even view some employee documents by choosing an employee from the list, and either taking a look at their I9 form, or taking a look at an employment verification form letter, here. Let's go ahead and close this down. Finally, we can even use this main menu to export documents out of our database. Here we have a section for the orders by state report, I can email it directly to the CEO by clicking on this button, here.
When I do that, Access packages up the file, opens up Outlook on my computer, attaches the file, addresses it to the CEO, puts in the subject line, and even gives it some body text, here. Let's go ahead and close this out and return back to Access. So, as an end-user that may have never seen this database before, we can accomplish some very specific tasks without digging into the navigation pane that normally appears on the left-hand side of our screen. Also, notice that the navigation pane isn't even on the screen; for most users there should be little need to even go in there. If the database is well-designed, everything that you need will be available through these types of forms and interfaces.
As a database administrator though, if you ever need to, you can always press the F11 shortcut key to bring that navigation back onto the screen. So, 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's kind of an abstract idea, so, let me explain it a little. 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 in forms and reports on top of that data, you start creating something more.
It becomes a custom application where Access, the program itself, really doesn't matter. Access is kind of a unique program in that it provides a framework for creating custom applications. Unlike say Microsoft Word, where you need to be somewhat familiar with the program in order 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 sometimes out of the database.
Your job as the database designer is to create this kind of tool.
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 and print your results, and introduces unique ways to save time filling out paperwork and generating form letters.
- Creating forms with the Form Wizard
- Formatting and aligning form objects
- Combining text boxes
- Adding a header and labels
- Controlling input
- Adding attachments and images
- Linking form controls
- Creating menus and data entry forms for the database
- Building reports
- Creating calculation fields
- Linking forms and reports
- Printing and exporting reports
- Creating a form letter