New Access 2007 Form and Report Design Features
Access 2007 has some new features that are specific to form and report objects. As a programmer and Access database designer, much of my work focuses on Access forms, because this is where we want the typical user to focus his attention. This is especially true of the novice Access user, whose goal is to use the database for its inherent productivity, not to spend time designing or even understanding Access objects. Because of this, any improvement to designing forms and reports is constructive and productive to the Access developer. I want to share some of the most interesting ones with you now.
First, there is a new embedded macro feature for database designers and more advanced users. As many of you know, macros have always resided in their own object group in prior versions of Access. This made using generic macros convenient, but less so for form- or report-specific macros. Now, like VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) code, the macro resides in the form or report, but it is easier to create and work with for most users than VBA is, and it is precluded from performing certain unsafe operations. Even though I am comfortable with VBA, I have always enjoyed working with the straightforward Access macro code. It is uncomplicated, and as a software trainer, fairly easy to clarify for most users.
In addition, there are some new functions with macros. The first are two error-handling macro actions, that provide functionality previously only available in VBA. Also, to make macros more ‘VBA-like’, you can use three new macro actions that allow you to create and use temporary variables.
Finally, two new features, one for forms and one for reports might be of good use for some users. The first is the new split form, which automatically creates a form, with the customary columnar form layout in the upper half of the screen and a datasheet view of the data in the lower half. What is notable is that when a record in the lower datasheet view is selected, it appears at the same time in the ‘standard’ form in the upper half. The other feature, which affects report design is not new, but completely changed. I am speaking of the grouping and sorting feature in report design and in the new report layout view. In prior versions this was controlled in a small but powerful dialog box. However, it’s features were not always intuitive or evident. The new sorting and grouping is easier and more convenient to use and customize. It uses easy-to-understand drop-down menus offering preferences in plain language to select from. An added bonus is that your changes are displayed in real time as you make them.
George Kuck - Access Training instructor