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MS Access

Posted Jul 15, 2005

Product Review: AccessUI

By Danny Lesandrini

Simplifying Microsoft Access Development

"It looks great, but can you change it so that it doesn't look so much like an Access database?"

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that in the last year, from both readers and clients alike. Let's face it, we love Access, but its "look" hasn't changed significantly in a decade. If you want to do anything really clever, you have to purchase 3rd party controls, learn how to use them, work out the bugs and possibly pay the distribution royalties. That has been such a big enough impediment for me that I have never used a third party control in nearly 10 years of developing applications with Microsoft Access. Suddenly, all that has changed, now that AccessUI is on the market.

What is AccessUI?

Its web site describes theinterface product as follows:

The AccessUI tool gives you a rich and professional-feeling user interface for any Microsoft Office application that is based on Microsoft Access database technology. There are three major components to the interface:

  • An Outlook-style menu bar that remembers users' favorite items
  • A command bar that can be configured with up to 4 levels
  • A dynamic treeview that can have Access forms/reports for each level

Recently, I was asked to create acustomer relationship management (CRM) tool for one of my clients. The client was looking for something fresh andsnazzy, something they would be proud to pull out and show to their clients. I converted their existing data from Excel spreadsheets to Access tables and used AccessUI as my menu system. In less thanfour hours I had a professional looking application consisting of the following:

  • The primary data table named tblOpportunity
  • One data entry form for managing opportunity records
  • AccessUI menu system (as shown below)

Four hours was all it took to produce a prototype good enough to show the client. They were blown away and quickly awarded me the contract. It was just what they wanted and was much more than I could ever have created, even if I had a hundred hours to devote to the project. Moreover, what they saw was just the beginning. As I learned more about how to use the tool, I became aware of its great power.

How AccessUI Works

While I do not want to bore you with all the minute details of every option and feature, you need to understand how the UI is implemented and what is required of you. What follows is a brief outline of the steps I followed to create my four-hour miracle:

  1. Purchase AccessUI from www.accessui.com Introductory cost: $399
  2. Register the developer admin tool online, which enables you to begin using the add-in (end users require no registration and they cannot edit developer settings)

  1. Unpack AccessUI files and register the OCX files that are used by AccessUI
  2. Import your tables, queries, forms, etc into the AccessUI shell mdb (UIForms2000 for Access 2000 apps or UIForms2002 for newer versions)
  3. Install the Administration Add-In and begin creating menus and tree views, setting system colors and icons, and a host of other cool features.

  1. Begin creating your own application masterpiece!

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