Another way to populate a database is with the use of forms. An Access 2007 form helps you know exactly what data to enter. In this lesson, we’ll address the benefits of using forms with a database, and we’ll show you how to setup a basic form for your Access 2007 database, as well as how to use the form to populate or edit data in the database. You’ll also learn how to enhance a basic form with a drop-down list.
Creating and using forms
In real life, a form is piece of paper you fill out so someone can collect and keep track of specific information about you. Only one record—your record—is captured with any given paper form.
Access 2007 forms work in a similar way.
In previous lessons, you saw that you can populate a database by entering records into the tables themselves. If the database has hundreds of records and many fields to populate for any given record, a table can be overwhelming to a user entering data. An Access form lets you enter data onerecord at a time, without having to see the entire table.
An Access 2007 form also lets you know exactly what information to enter and can even tell you what that information should look like. Adding certain control components to a form—like a drop-down menu—can dramatically increase the integrityof the data that is held in a database.
A database owner wants to control the levels of access other database users have to the data; the fewer the amount of people who are interacting with the data, the lower the chances are of the data becoming compromised. Forms are one more way a database owner can limit the actions of other users. Form properties can be set so users can only enter records or just view records.
Creating a form
Access 2007 has several automatic tools for creating forms. These tools are located in the Forms group on the Create tab in the Ribbon, as seen below:
Access 2007 forms tools include:
- The Form command makes a basic form, showing a single record at a time.
- The Split Form command creates a form showing one record on top and includes the Datasheet view of the entire source table on the bottom.
- The Multiple Items command creates a form that shows all records at once, which looks similar to the source table in Datasheet view.
- The Form Wizard is hidden under the More Forms command. It walks you through the process of creating more customized forms.
To create a form using the Form command:
The basic Form command is the one we suggest because it allows you to see just one record at a time. It also includes all of the fields in your source table for you, and you can modify the layout of the basic form to hide fields or add controls:
- Begin by highlighting the table you want to use as a source table.
- With the source table highlighted, select the Form command from the Forms command group in the Create tab on the Ribbon.
- The new form is created and opens in the object pane.
The newly created form has the same name as the source table by default. You can give the form a new name by saving the form. You will be prompted to give the form a name.
Using forms to enter data
Populating a database is easy once you have a basic form in place. Record navigation works the same way for forms as it does for tables. The navigation bar is located in the bottom-left of the object pane. The navigation buttons work the same way as they do for tables. The picture below shows the navigation buttons for a form.
To add a record using a form:
- Navigate to a new record, either by using the New Record navigation button or by using the New command in the Records group on the Ribbon.
- Add the new data.
- Save the record.
Your data must be entered using an acceptable format. The acceptable formats were established when the field properties were set.
Save by using either the Save command on the Ribbon or by progressing to another record using the New (Blank) Record navigation button. Moving to a new record saves the most recently entered record. However, it may be necessary to refresh the table in Datasheet view to see the newest record.
To edit records using a form:
Just like in a table, database users can edit records from a form using the Find and Replace command. This command works exactly the same way in a form as it does in a table.
Creating a drop-down list
Using a drop-down list on a form can increase the integrity of the data in the database because drop-down lists force form users to select one of the preset options in the list to populate the field. These types of form controls are relatively easy to set up using the Combo Box.
To create a drop-down list using a Combo Box control:
- With the form opened in Design view, select the Combo Box command in the Controls group on the Designtab in the Ribbon.
- Drag and drop the combo box sizing tool to create the combo box where you want it to be on the form.
- The Combo Box Wizard appears.
- Choose the desired option from the wizard, and click Next.
- Because the middle option was selected in the example above, the wizard progresses to the next step, which asks for the values to be typed into a small table.
- Next, the wizard asks what to do with the entered values. Access can either remember the values for later use, or it can populate a field with the entered values. Use the drop-down list to select which field Access should use to store the values.
- Once the desired option has been selected, click Next.
- Finally, the wizard gives the combo box a generic name, which can be meaningful to you later if there’s ever a need to adjust the properties of this or another combo box. If you want, give the combo box a name, then click Finish.
Whatever name is entered will appear as a label on the form. This label can be deleted if you want.
Switch to Form view to see how the combo box works. The Category drop-down list appears on the Books form, as seen in the image below.