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 video, Adam displays 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.
- [Narrator] 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's uniquely tailored to your specific needs. Where this really becomes apparent is when we start digging in to 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 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 currently in the database that we're going to have created by the end of this course. The main starting point for the system is this Main Menu form. Users can use it to open up an Employee Directory. We can see a form here, where they can scroll through the different employees that we have in the database.
When they're done reviewing this information, they can return to the Main Menu. Then, they can even use this form to enter in a new customer and here we have a Data Entry form. Once they've entered in some customer details, they can either save the form and close it, or they can cancel out and delete these records or remove it from the table. When they're done working here they can also return to the Main Menu. They can even run a report from this Main Menu. Let's go ahead and select some options from this report. I'll choose that I want to see the month of January and I want to see the western region of the company. I'll press the View Profit Summary button and that'll bring up the report here that's customized to those inputs.
We can see that it's just for January and it's just the western region states. When I'm done, I'll close the Print Preview window and that'll take me right back to the Main Menu again. So, as an end user that's never seen this database before we can accomplish some specific tasks without having to dig in to the navigation pane. Also, notice that the navigation pane isn't even on the screen. For most users, there should be little need to go in there. If the database is well designed, everything that you need should be available through these types of forms and interfaces. As the database administrator though, if you ever need to you can always press the F11 keyboard shortcut key to reveal the navigation pane.
This way you can make changes to the structure of the system if you need to. Now, if we think about Microsoft Word as a tool for creating documents, then we can say that Access is the 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. 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.
Access is kind of a unique program in that it provides a framework for creating customized applications. Unlike say Microsoft Word, where you need to be somewhat familiar with the program to write a Word Document, Access provides an environment where novice users can get work done without having to know much at all about Access. 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 in to and information out of the database.
Your job as the database designer is to create these tools.
- Creating forms with the Form Wizard
- Formatting and aligning form objects
- Combining text boxes
- Adding a form header
- Organizing screen space with tabs
- Controlling input
- Adding images
- Linking form controls
- Creating menus and data entry forms for the database
- Building reports
- Creating calculation fields
- Linking forms and reports