Exploring the Access 2010 Interface
December 16, 2010
This excerpt, extracted from Microsoft Access 2010 Inside Out packs hundreds of time-saving solutions, troubleshooting tips, and workarounds, all in concise, fast-answer format.
Exploring the Access 2010 Interface Table of Contents
Before you explore the many features of Microsoft Access 2010, it's worth spending a little time looking it over and "kicking the tires." Like a new model of a favorite car, this latest version of Access has changes to the body (user interface) as well as new functionality under the hood. In this chapter and the next, we'll explore the changes to the user interface, show you how to navigate through Microsoft's new replacement for the File menu called the Microsoft Office Backstage view, and discuss the various components of an Access database and how they interact.
Opening Access for the First Time
The first time you open Access 2010, you are presented with the Privacy Options dialog box shown in Figure 2-1. This dialog box lists three radio buttons, which are not selected by default. Note that you must have an active connection to the Internet to use the first two options. The Use Recommended Settings radio button, when selected, turns on several features of your Microsoft Office 2010 installation. Your computer will periodically check Microsoft's website for any product and security updates to your Office, Windows, or other Microsoft software. If any updates are detected, your computer will install these updates automatically for you. Selecting this radio button also allows Access to search Office.com's vast resources for content relevant to your search. Access downloads this information to your local computer for faster searching when you search for items in the Help section. Selecting this option means you will have the latest Help information at your disposal. When you choose Use Recommend Settings, Office downloads a special diagnostic tool that interfaces with the Office 2010 system. You can use this tool to help identify problems with your Office installation. Although not required to run the Office 2010 release or Access 2010, this tool might assist you with locating the cause of any unforeseen system crashes. Selecting Use Recommend Settings also allows you to sign up for Microsoft's Customer Experience Improvement Program. This utility tracks various statistics while you use Access 2010 and the Office 2010 release and sends that information to Microsoft. By tracking how customers are using their products, Microsoft can improve its Office line of products for future releases. Note that this option does not send any personal information to Microsoft. Click the Read Our Privacy Statement link in the lower-left corner to read Microsoft's privacy statement.
The second radio button in the Privacy Options dialog box, Install Updates Only, performs a subset of the features for Use Recommend Settings. When you select this option, your computer will check Microsoft's website only periodically for any product and security updates to your Office, Windows, or other Microsoft software and install them. The last radio button, Don't Make Changes, makes no changes to your Office 2010 installation. Selecting this option could leave your computer at risk, however, because your computer will not download and install product or security updates. After you make your selection in the Privacy dialog box, click OK to start using Access 2010.
After selecting your options in the Privacy Options dialog box, you can always alter these settings later. For more information on changing these settings, see Modifying Global Settings via the Access Options Dialog Box.
Getting Started with Access 2010
If you are a seasoned developer with the 2007 version of Access, the user interface of Access 2010 should be familiar to what you've been working with. If however, you have been working only in Access versions before 2007, be prepared for quite a shock when you first open Access 2010. Microsoft revamped the entire look and feel of the user interface in Access 2007 and made additional changes in Access 2010 and the other products in the Office 2010 release. To some degree, users of versions before Access 2007 will have a challenging task adjusting to all the changes the development team has incorporated into Access 2007 and Access 2010. If you are one of these users, you might even experience a short-term decrease in productivity as you become accustomed to where commands and tools are located on the new user interface elements called the Backstage view and the ribbon. (See Exploring the Microsoft Office Backstage View, for details about the Backstage view, and Understanding the Office Fluent Ribbon, for details about the ribbon.) For first-time users of Access, Microsoft continues to spend a great deal of development effort trying to make the "Access experience" easier and more intuitive in this version. With a new Getting Started screen, a host of ready-to-use client and web database applications available, and a context-driven, rich graphical ribbon and Backstage view, users will have an easier and quicker time creating professional-looking database applications.
On first starting Access, you see a new Getting Started screen on the New tab of the Backstage view, as shown in Figure 2-2. We will discuss all the elements of this New tab and the Backstage view in great detail in Exploring the Microsoft Office Backstage View.
Opening an Existing Database
To showcase the user interface, let's take one of the template databases out for a test drive. Using the TasksSample.accdb database on the companion CD, based on the Microsoft Tasks template, we will highlight some specific areas of Access 2010. First, follow the instructions at the beginning of this book for installing the sample files on your hard drive. Click the Open button on the left side of the Backstage view to see the Open dialog box shown in Figure 2-3.
In the Open dialog box, select the TasksSample.accdb file from the folder in which you installed the sample databases, and then click OK. You can also double-click the file name to open the database. (If you haven't set options in Windows Explorer to show file name extensions for registered applications, you won't see the .accdb extension for your database files.) The Tasks sample application will start, and you'll see the startup form for the Tasks Sample database along with all the various database objects listed on the left side, as shown in Figure 2-4.
We will discuss each of the Access 2010 user interface elements in greater detail in the following sections, but for now, here is a brief overview of the different elements. The upper-left corner of the screen contains a tab called File. This tab, called the Backstage view, replaces the Microsoft Office Button from Access 2007. Above this tab are a few smaller buttons on what is called the Quick Access Toolbar. This toolbar holds frequently used commands within Access 2010. Beneath the Quick Access Toolbar is a series of four tabs (Home, Create, External Data, and Database Tools) that contain many commands, options, and drop-down list boxes. These tabs are on what Microsoft refers to as the Office Fluent Ribbon and it replaces menu bars and toolbars from versions of Access before 2007. You will interact heavily with the ribbon when developing and using Access 2010 databases because most of the commands you need are contained on it.
Beneath the ribbon is a small message that says "Security Warning." This Message Bar informs you if Access has disabled potentially harmful content in this database. See Understanding Content Security, to learn what this message means and what you can do to avoid it.
On the left side of the screen is the Navigation pane, which replaces the Database window from versions of Access before 2007. In the Navigation pane, you can find all the various database objects for this database (tables, queries, forms, and so on).
To the right of the Navigation pane is where your database objects open. In Figure 2-4, you see that the Task List form is open. All possible views of your database objects appear in this area. Just beneath the Navigation pane and main object window is the status bar. The status bar displays text descriptions from field controls, various keyboard settings (Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock), and object view buttons.