Designing and Using a Switchboard in MS Access 2013

Designing and Using a Switchboard in MS Access 2013
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Getting Started

The first step will be to create a new database. Since we won’t have the time to build a database from scratch, we’ll use one of the Microsoft Access sample databases and modify it to have a switchboard. Open up Microsoft Access. Under Suggested Searches, click Assets. Click on Desktop Asset Tracking and click Create after first picking a location to save the database (Figure 1).

Next, we need to add a button to the ribbon to give us access to the Switchboard Manager. Click the small down arrow next to the Undo\Redo buttons. Select More Commands. Under “Choose commands from” select “Commands Note in the Ribbon.”

Browse the left list for Switchboard Manager and click Add (Figure 2). Click OK. The button will appear on the quick access toolbar next to the Undo\Redo buttons.

Creating a Switchboard

Let’s create our switchboard. For this example we’ll add several switchboard buttons:

  • A button that opens the Asset List form in Edit mode
  • A button that opens the All Assets report
  • A button that opens the Contact Address List report
  • A button to exit the program

Here’s how we create and add items to our switchboard:

1. Click the Switchboard Manager button we added to the quick access toolbar.

2. Access will inform you that no switchboard was found – do we want to create a new one? Click Yes.

3. The Switchboard Manager will open with a new default switchboard highlighted. Click the Edit button.

4. On the Edit Switchboard page, click New.

5. In the Edit Switchboard item page, give your switchboard button a label. In this example we’ll call it “Asset List.”

6. For the Command drop down, we’ll pick Open Form in Add mode.

7. Under Form we’ll choose the Asset List.

8. Click OK (Figure 3).

9. Back at the Edit Switchboard page, click New and repeat the process to add our reports. This time for the Command, we’ll choose report. Under Report, select the report we want to display.  

10. Repeat the steps to add the second report.

11. For the Exit button we’ll add another item. This time for the Command, we’ll choose Exit Application.

12. Your switchboard page should look like Figure 4.

13. If you need to rearrange the order in which the buttons appear, you can highlight an item and use the Move Up and Move Down buttons. Once you are happy with the results, click Close.

Testing the Switchboard and Wrapping Up

Figure 5 - Access Options

Back in the main application we can test the switchboard by navigating to Forms and opening the Switchboard form. If we want Access to automatically open our switchboard when the application is opened, we can do this through a few different ways.

For a custom built application, you’ll want to go through Access options. Click File and navigate to Options. Click Current Database on the left side and under Display Form, select our switchboard (Figure 5). Click OK.

Figure 6 - AutoExec

Since we are using a template from Microsoft it uses an “AutoExec” macro to open a form on startup.

To change it, right click on AutoExec in the navigation pane under Macros and select Design. Under the OpenForm section change Form Name from Asset List to Switchboard (Figure 6).

Now when you close your application and re-open it, your switchboard will open automatically. It may need a bit of tidying up (Figure 7) to make it look nice but it’s a handy shortcut for users to find what they need in your tool.