written by: Alan Jones•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 10/4/2011
Whether you're an Access beginner, or looking for some advanced hints and tips, this Access guide will take you through all the stages of creating a database.
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First Steps With Access
Before you even begin to construct your MS Access database, it's important to understand some of the basics of database design, as well as how your database is going to be used and what security and network considerations you need to make. You can usually make these decisions based on how many people are likely to be using your database and where those people are located. These articles provide some essential reading, so you can make sure your MS Access database is set up correctly, right from the start.
Tables are the key to an efficient database, as they will be used to store all your data. Learning how to correctly store your data is the next stage in creating an efficient database. From how to create a table, to learning how to best create indexes and primary keys, to setting relationships between your tables, all these factors are important in designing a streamlined database that will still be able to cope with new data added to it. These articles will show you the best way to store your data in your MS Access database.
Once you've got your data storage in place, you'll need to make use of Access queries to take control of that data. You can use Access queries to edit and delete your data, and also to add new data. Most important though, is the way you can use queries to display your data, by joining multiple tables together, or creating Excel-style Pivot tables, so that you can present your data in a format that makes more sense to your users. These articles will tell you everything you need to know about using Queries in MS Access.
Presenting Your Data to the User With Access Forms
In order to allow your users to interact with your database, you're going to need to use Access forms. They can be used to display or edit the data already in your database, or used as a way of allowing your users to enter new data. They can even be used to allow the user to navigate around your database. Throw in subforms and tabbed forms, and the possiblities are virtually endless, and these articles will tell you everything you need to know about designing a friendly, efficient user interface for your database.
Getting More Out of Access With the Help of Excel and VBA
As you might expect, Access works very nicely in combination with Excel, and it's very common that you will have Excel spreadsheet data to import into your database, or that you will want to export data to a spreadsheet format. You can even share data with Excel, so when a spreadsheet is updated, those changes will be immediately reflected in your database. If you make use of VBA, then you can greatly increase the control you have over importing and exporting data from Excel, as well as other parts of your MS Access database.
By now you should be able to create a fairly complex yet user-friendly Access database and be confident that you've designed it as efficiently as possible. However, there are still other sections to cover, so this final section of articles details how to connect external files to your database through the use of hyperlinks, what sort of changes you can expect to see when upgrading to Access 2010, MS Access database maintenance, and a few more general hints and tips designed to help keep your database running as smoothly as possible.