Access User Interface Design

Many developers find themselves creating the user interface for their applications without any training. Peter discusses how you can use Access’s features to deliver an excellent user interface.

For many years, the user interfaces (UIs) that I delivered with my applications were accidents: They were what fell out of the process of writing the code. Fortunately for me, the companies that I’d been working with had been delivering bad UIs to their employees for so long that our users had been pretty much beaten into submission. They accepted what we inflicted on them. Continue reading

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Access Interfaces: User Configuration

This month, Rebecca Riordan discusses the importance of giving your users control over fundamental UI elements such as fonts and colors. It’s simple to do, and your users will love you for it.

One of the fundamental principles of user interface design, and perhaps the most important, is “Put the user in control.” Get it right, and users will be amazingly tolerant of the occasional infelicities in your design. Get it wrong, and it doesn’t matter how beautiful your color schemes or elegant your graphic elements are–your system will be regarded as fundamentally broken. Continue reading

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Access Interfaces: Handling Price Ranges

This month Rebecca Riordan looks at implementing a common business rule. In fact, she provides two methods for handling the common case of multiple prices for a given product, depending on the quantity ordered–the customer pays $1.79 each for buying up to nine items, but only $1.69 each when buying 10-14 items, and so on.

I’ve always been impressed with the Northwind sample database. Yes, it’s true that it’s slightly artificial, and perhaps not all of the code is as efficient as it might be. But as a sample database bundled with a commercial product, it’s as close to a production application as you’re likely to get. I truly wish I had a dollar for every person who’s learned the fundamentals of database design by adapting Northwind to their needs. Continue reading

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Access Database Performance

With a combination of abstract rules and real-world stories, editor Peter Vogel provides you with the rules that you need to create Access applications that run as fast as possible. And he throws in some advice on advancing your career.

The slowest thing that you can do is read from or write to your hard disk. This is an ironic fact of life for Access developers (or any database developer): Your goal is to access and update your database, and that very activity is what slows down your application more than anything else. Life’s like that. This is reality; adjust! Continue reading

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Access Application Development Documentation

When it comes time to make a change to your program (and you’ll have to change your program), good documentation can direct you to the areas to change and alert you to potential problems. If you have a bug to fix, effective documentation can help you solve the problem (without introducing new problems). Dennis Schumaker discusses the secrets behind creating useful documentation efficiently based on his company’s real-world experience in delivering Access applications.

One of the tasks that every programmer gets involved with, but hates doing, is writing documentation. Part of the problem is that many programmers view documentation as a one-time task, done at the end of a development project. A better attitude is to think of documentation as a series of smaller tasks, done throughout the project. Not only is it easier to develop documentation in small pieces throughout a development project, but it’s also easier to manage the project using this documentation. This article discusses the approach that we use at our company in creating documentation “as we go” on Access projects. The result is a documentation set that’s actually useful while being created as efficiently as possible. Continue reading

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