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Access 2010: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Building Forms with Navigation Smarts

The navigation pane is an invaluable tool for getting around your database, but it doesn’t suit everyone. People who’ve never used Access before might find it a little perplexing, and there’s nothing stopping someone from changing the navigation options (and opening objects they shouldn’t).

To get more control and to add a friendly veneer, many Access experts build navigation features into their forms (and occasionally their reports). After all, a form gives you virtually unlimited possibilities for customization. You can add a paragraph of text, throw in a hot pink background and a company logo, and reduce confusing options to a few fat, friendly buttons.

If you do decide to use forms for navigation, your first decision is what kind of form to build. Access gives you a wide range of options, and you’ll explore them in the following sections.

Custom Menu Forms

A menu form has just one purpose—to transport people to other forms (usually, when they click a button). A typical menu form doesn’t display any information—it simply provides a stack of buttons that lead to different places. It serves as both a starting place and the central hub of activity for your database.

Building a custom menu form is one of the simplest and most effective ways to provide navigation for your database. You simply create a series of buttons and configure each one to show the appropriate form (as described on Performing Actions with Command Buttons). You can even place a ...

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