Microsoft Access Forms

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About

Like many desktop database application development tools, Microsoft Access has very robust facilities for creating forms. For reporting applications you will use yourself you may not need many forms. But if you are setting up a database for someone else to use you will want to create a set of forms for data entry, report selection, etc.

The purpose of this article is not to present a tutorial on how to design a form. There are many good sources of information on that. Rather, I want to focus on the effect that table relationships and queries have on the basic structure of the forms. Along the way we'll see just how much of the legwork can be done for you by the Access form wizard, especially if you have properly designed your tables, queries and relationships. So let's cover a few basics first.

You can download the Access starter database, factory2000-tables, at box.net.

Background

Bound vs Unbound Forms

Access can create two types of forms: bound and unbound. A bound form is connected to a table or query via a record source property. An unbound form has no record source. It can be used to collect criteria, such as a date range, for reports, searches, etc. This article focuses on bound forms.

Data Sources

Each form has one (and only one) record source. This is an important point since it would seemingly imply that a form can be used to update only one table. But this is not so. A query which draws from more than one table can also be used. If it is updatable then you can update multiple tables via one form (more about this later). In the example below we are using a work_orders table. It could just as easily have been a query.

Another way to update multiple tables is through subforms.

Subforms

Access has the ability to create subforms. These are similar to regular forms and have their own record source. Once created they can be embedded in or linked to a main form and Access will automatically maintain the relationship between the data in the two forms.

The remainder of this article will discuss form creation in light of existing tables, relationships and queries. We'll start with tables and then delve into using queries.

Simple Data Entry Forms

You did do a thorough job of setting your field properties, didn't you? If not go back and finish this job now. The Form Wizard will use the caption property to generate the field labels. If you've set these already then you will automatically get meaningful labels on your forms with no further work.

A simple data entry form is all that's needed to update many of the tables in your database. For example customers, suppliers, vendors, parts, locations, etc. You should have a data entry form for each of these. It won't handle your transactions or fancier displays but we'll get to that later. Here's a real simple form for updating employee information for a sample database.

Notice the record source. This form was created simply by running the Form Wizard, selecting the employees table as the record source and using the columnar format. Of course I added a few things and moved a field or two, but basically the wizard did all the work. Do note that you should also set the caption property for the form.

Name your form with a prefix of frm. For example: frmEmployees.

Continue to one-to-many forms.


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