I often receive emails from general users who are using different software applications typically Excel, Word and bespoke management systems asking for help when wanting to use Microsoft Access to store their data. The challenge for me is not knowing anything about the enquirer or what level of knowledge they have and having to make an assumption that they have some experience of Microsoft Access.
In their request for help, users want to replicate similar functionality of other systems, which means using front-end GUI objects namely Forms and Reports supported with either Macros or VBA code procedures. However, there is a clear distinction and set roles for different objects when using Microsoft Access.
In this article, I want to quickly show you 5 ways to utilise (or uses) of Microsoft Access Forms.
- The Data Entry UI (user interface) – Simple and basic and quick to build using templates or wizard tools allowing you to control data functionality and data management (add, edit and delete) with optional data validations.
- The Enquiry Screen UI – Again simple to build using templates and the wizard tool but requires some manual property changes to lock and protect data values making it a read only screen.
- The Menu UI – In Microsoft Access, you have various approaches depending on which version you use but this is normally one of the starting screens to help navigate users to other UI screens, reports and other processes keeping a handle on workflows protecting the data integrity of your Access database. You can use the conventional Switchboard Manager, build it manually or use the newer tool (Access 2010) known as the Navigation Form.
- The Splash Screen UI – This happens when opening your application advertising the product; a welcome screen that leads to the Main Menu UI. It can be a simply displayed for a few seconds while background processing continues during a laboured start-up. It could be a progress bar, banner or simply an option to interact to other areas of restricted use (via an optional password).
- The Dialog Box UI – This screen is used to communicate to and from an Access database system hence the word ‘Dialogue’. It is normally two-way; the system will prompt the user and the user will respond. Think of an Open Dialog Box to retrieve a file. It waits for you to choose the file you wish to open – you’re in a middle of a conversation with your system!
Building the above forms requires some skill, time and of course effort but to make your Microsoft Access database user-friendly, this is the only way it’s going to happen.