Microsoft Access users don’t have to settle for blah datasheets and boring tables. With a little bit of effort, you can use your creativity to turn ordinary datasheets into stunning data-entry forms. Similarly, you can turn your Access tables into reports that will captivate your audience.
Why should you take the time to enhance the data-entry forms on your company’s Access screens?
First, you can create forms that will enhance the accuracy of the data that you enter into your Access system. Use colors and fonts to emphasize the complex parts of the form that require complete accuracy and attention to detail. By giving people visual aids, you reinforce the importance of entering data properly.
Second, a well-designed form looks much more professional than a simple datasheet. If your company’s customers see your datasheets or your tables, then you can present a more positive image by turning them into attractive forms and reports. Even if the only person who will see your data-entry screen is your boss, it can’t hurt to impress her.
Third, a fancy form can enhance productivity. People who enter data into computer systems can lull themselves to sleep if they’re working with the same plain-vanilla datasheet every hour of every day. By contrast, data-entry technicians who have attractive, custom forms are going to be more stimulated and more alert. That will enhance their productivity and output.
Microsoft Access gives us two tools to help us create attractive forms and reports: macros and code.
– Macros are usually small programs that you create and store in your Access database. Macros can be little utilities that perform housekeeping functions. Macros can also be larger programs that format data, create complex data-entry forms, or craft beautiful reports.
– Code, by contrast, refers to programs that are created in the Visual BASIC (VB) language. Microsoft created VB in 1991 and has offered it as both a programming language and an application enhancement tool for many of its programs, including Access. While programmers think of VB as a simple programming language, it’s still a programming language.
Beginning Access users should start by learning to create macros. Only when your need to customize Access exceeds the power of the Access macro regimen should you graduate to VB code.
A macro is a series of instructions or, as they’re known in Access, a series of actions. To create your first macro, click Create, click Macros & Code, and click Macro.
Next, use the Add New Action list to start building your list of macro actions. Most Access actions have intuitive names like GoToRecord, OpenForm, and PrintObject. Be prepared to make a lot of mistakes, and don’t become discouraged.
Another approach to learning to create Access macros is to look at other people’s macros. Ask colleagues and friends to show you the macros that they’ve created. And don’t be shy about asking them why they made some of the strange design decisions that they’ve included in their macros.
The third approach to learning to write macros is to read the manual.
There are dozens of books available that include instructions for writing Access macros.
Choose the method of learning about macros that best fits with your skills and personality. Always back up your Access database before you run a macro for the first time. And always have the DataNumen Access Repair application available to repair Access files that have been damaged.
Alan Chen is President and Chairman of DataNumen, Inc., whose data recovery technologies include Access repair, SQL recovery software products, and more than 20 other software recovery applications. For more information about the DataNumen line of data repair and recovery applications, visit www.datanumen.com