Access Switchboard Forms

Many people overlook the switchboard feature of Microsoft Access but it does provide a very quick and easy front-end for a simple database system. A switchboard is a form which acts as a menu to the rest of your database. It has a number of buttons, each of which leads to another form, another switchboard or to a simple command like running a report. The Access Switchboard Manager is a wizard which lets you build a simple hierarchy allowing the user to navigate between the main areas of the application.

The example illustrated here is the front-end to our enquiry-tracking database. This application records enquiries from clients and the names of the people who made these enquiries. The main switchboard lets the user go to the Client, Enquiry or People switchboards and work with those areas of the database or to go to the Reports switchboard and run various reports. The database application is much larger than this and the main body is full of VBA code providing links between forms, automating common tasks and validating data entry but the entry point to the whole system was built as a simple set of switchboards with the wizard.

Creating a switchboard

Use the Switchboard Manager to create and modify switchboards. This is in different places in different versions of Access. In Access 97 it is under Add-Ins on the Tools menu, in Access XP it is under Database Utilities on the Tools menu.

A rather worrying dialog appears the first time that you open the Switchboard Manager:

[The Switchboard Manager was unable to find a valid switchboard.]

Pay no attention to the warning icon and just click Yes. The Switchboard Manager will appear with a single default entry named "Main Switchboard. Click the Edit button and change the Switchboard Name to something more suitable to your own application. The word "(Default)" always appears in the manager window to show you which switchboard will appear first. It doesn't appear on screen in your application.

[The Switchboard Manager as it first appears.]

This switchboard only has the one entry so that has to be the default. You can use the Make Default button later if you want to make another switchboard the default.

Other pages in this series

Part 1 Getting started
Part 2 Building the structure
Part 3 Improving the appearance
Part 4 Behind the scenes

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