1.Figure 1-1. When you start Access, you see this two-part
welcome page. On the left is a list of recently opened databases (if you have
any). On the right is a list of templates that you can use to create a new
already have Access open and you’ve been working with another database, just
choose File→New to create a new database. You’ll get the same list of
templates as when you first launch Access.
2.Click the “Blank
desktop database” template.
When you choose to create a blank database, that’s exactly what
you get—a new, empty database file with no tables or other database objects.
Starting from scratch is the best way to learn about Access. It’s also the
favorite choice of database experts, who prefer to create everything themselves
so it’s exactly the way they like it.
Other templates let you create databases that are preconfigured
for specific scenarios and certain types of data. The box on Templates:
One Size Fits Some has more information.
The cool-sounding “Custom web app” template is a special case.
It lets you create a web-enabled database that runs on SharePoint. You’ll explore
this new feature (and its limitations), in Chapter 20.
No matter which template you click, Access pops open a new
window that lets you choose a name and location for your new database (Figure 1-2).
TO SPEED: TEMPLATES: ONE SIZE FITS SOME
The example in this section shows you how to create a blank
database. However, if you scroll down (on the right side of the Figure 1-1), you’ll
find a long list of prebuilt databases, which are known as templates. Templates aim to save you the work of creating a new
database and let you jump straight to the fine-tuning and data-entry stage.
As you might expect, there’s a price to be paid for this
convenience. Even if you find a template that stores the type of information
you want to track, you might find that the predefined structure isn’t quite
right. For example, if you choose to use the Home Inventory template to track
all the stuff in your basement, you might find that it’s missing some
information you want to use (like the projected resale value of your stuff on
eBay) and includes other details you don’t care about (like the date you
acquired each item). To make this template work, you’ll need to change the
design of your table, which involves the same Access know-how as creating one.
book, you’ll learn how to build your own databases from the ground up and
customize every square inch of them. Once you’re an Access master, you can
spend many fun hours playing with the prebuilt templates and adapting them to
suit your needs. To give it a whirl, click one of a dozen or so templates that
are shown in the main Access window. Or, even better, hunt for more by using
the Search box at the top of the Access window, which scans through the
thousands of templates available on Microsoft’s Office website.
3.Type a file name for the
database you’re about to create.
Access stores all the information for a database in a single
file with the extension .accdb (which stands for “Access database”). Don’t
stick with the name Access picks automatically (like “Database1.accdb”).
Instead, pick something more descriptive. In this example, Bobblehead.accdb
does the trick.
As with any other file, Access files can contain a
combination of letters, spaces, numbers, parentheses, hyphens (-), and the
underscore (_). It’s generally safest to stay away from other special
characters, some of which aren’t allowed.
Figure 1-2. This database will
be named Bobblehead.accdb. As you can see by the file path below the File Name
box, it will be saved in the folder C:\Users\matthew\Documents. You can edit the
file name by typing in the File Name box, and you can browse to a different
folder by clicking the folder icon.
on your computer settings, Windows may hide file extensions. Instead of seeing
the Access database file MyScandalousWedding.accdb in file-browsing tools
like Windows Explorer, you may just see the name MyScandalousWedding (without
the .accdb part on the end). In this case, you can still tell the file type by
looking at the icon. If you see a small Access icon next to the file name,
that’s your signal that you’re looking at an Access database.
4.Choose the folder where
you want to store your database.
Like all Office programs, Access assumes you want to store every
file you create in your personal Documents folder. If this isn’t what you want,
click the folder icon to show the File New Database window, browse to the
folder you want (Figure 1-3), and then click OK.
Figure 1-3. The File New
Database window lets you choose where you’ll store a new Access database file.
It also gives you the option to create your database in the format used by
older versions of Access (.mdb), instead of the more modern format used by
Access 2007, Access 2010, and Access 2013 (.accdb). To change the format,
simply choose the corresponding Access version from the “Save as type” list, as
5.Click the big Create
button (under the File Name box).
Access creates your database file and then shows a datasheet
where you can get to work creating your first table.
USERS’ CLINIC: TELLING ACCESS WHERE TO STORE YOUR DATABASES
always assumes you want to store databases in your Documents folder. And though
you can choose a different location every time you save or open a database, if
there’s another folder you need to visit frequently, then it makes sense to
make that your standard database storage location. You can configure Access
to use this folder with just a few steps:
1.Make sure you’ve opened a database or created a new one. You
can’t make this change from the window you see when you first start Access.
2.Choose File→Options. The Access Options window appears.
3.In the list on the left, choose General.
4.In the page on the right, look for the “Creating
databases” heading. Underneath, you’ll find a “Default database folder”
text box. Type the path to the folder you want to use (like C:\MyDatabases), or click Browse to navigate to it.
you’re finished, click OK to save your changes.
create or open a database, the Access window changes quite a bit. An
impressive-looking toolbar (the ribbon) appears at the top of your screen, and a Navigation Pane shows
up on the left. You’re now in the control center where you’ll perform all your
database tasks (Figure 1-4).
Figure 1-4. The navigation pane
on the left lets you see different items (or objects) in your database. You can
use the navigation pane to jump from a list of products to a list of customers
and back again. The ribbon along the top groups together every Access command.
This ribbon is the mission control that lets you perform various tasks with
your database. The document window in the middle takes up the rest of the
window. This window is where you’ll do your work, such as designing tables and
If you haven’t
used the ribbon before (either in Access or in another Office program), the
Introduction covers the basics of how the ribbon works. Otherwise, carry
on to the next section, where you’ll learn how to add a table to your
brand-new, empty database.
Your First Table
Tables are information containers. Every database needs at least
one table—without it, you can’t store any data. In a simple database, like the
Bobblehead database, a single table (which we’ll call Dolls) is enough. But if
you find yourself wanting to store several lists of related information, you
need more than one table. In the database BigBudgetWedding.accdb, you may want
to keep track of the guests that you invited to your wedding, the gifts that
you requested, and the loot that you actually received. In Chapter 5, you’ll see plenty of examples of databases
that use multiple tables.
Figure 1-5 shows a sample table.
Figure 1-5. In a table, each
record occupies a separate row. Each field is represented by a separate column.
In this table, it’s clear that you’ve added five bobblehead dolls. You’re
storing information for each doll in five fields (ID, Character, Manufacturer,
PurchasePrice, and DateAcquired).
start designing this table, you need to know some very basic rules:
oA table is a group ofrecords. A record
is a collection of information about a single thing. In the Dolls table, for
example, each record represents a single bobblehead doll. In a Family table,
each record would represent a single relative. In a Products table, each record
would represent an item that’s for sale. You get the idea. When you create a
new database, Access starts you out with a new table named Table1, although
you can choose a more distinctive name when you decide to save it.
oEach record is
Each field stores a distinct piece of information. For example, in the Dolls
table, one field stores the person on whom the doll is based, another field
stores the price, another field stores the date you bought it, and so on.
oTables have a rigid
structure. In other words, you can’t bend the rules. If you create four
fields, every record
must have four fields (although it’s acceptable to leave some fields blank if
they don’t apply).
oNewly created tables
get an ID field for free. The ID field stores a unique number for each
record. (Think of it as a reference number that will let you find a specific
record later on.) The best part about the ID field is that you can ignore it
when you’re entering a new record. Access chooses a new ID number for you and
inserts it in the record automatically. You’ll learn much more about ID fields
TO SPEED: DATABASE PLANNING FOR BEGINNERS
database gurus suggest that before you fire up Access, you should decide
exactly what information you want to store by brainstorming. Here’s how it
works. First, determine the type of list you want by finishing this sentence “I
need a list of.…” (One example: “I need a list of all the bobblehead dolls in
down all your must-have pieces of information on a piece of paper. Some details
are obvious. For example, for the bobblehead doll collection, you’ll probably
want to keep track of the doll’s name, price, and date you bought it. Other
details, like the year it was produced, the company that created it, and a
short description of its appearance or condition may require more thought.
you’ve completed this process and identified all the important bits of data you
need, you’re ready to create the corresponding table in Access. The bobblehead
doll example demonstrates an important theme of database design: First you plan
the database, and then you create it using Access. In Chapter 5, you’ll
learn a lot more about planning more complex databases.
first create a database, it’s almost empty. But to get you started, Access
creates your first database object—a table named Table1. The problem is, this
table begins life completely blank, with no defined fields (and no data).
followed the steps in the previous section to create a new database, you’re
already at the Datasheet
view (Figure 1-5), which is where you enter data
into a table. All you need to do is customize this table so that it meets your
customize a table in two ways:
oDesign view lets
you precisely define all aspects of a table before you start using it. Almost
all database pros prefer Design view, and you’ll start using it in Chapter 2.
oDatasheet view is
where you enter data into a table. Datasheet view also lets you build a table
on the fly as you insert new information. You’ll use this approach in this
following steps show you how to turn a blank new table (like Table1) into the
Dolls table by using the Datasheet view:
1.To define your table,
simply add your first record.
In this case, that means choosing a bobblehead doll to add to
the list. For this example, you’ll use a nifty Homer Simpson replica.
matter which doll you enter first. Access tables are unsorted, which means they have no underlying order. However, you can
sort them any way you want when you need to retrieve information later on.
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Figure 1-1. When you start Access, you see this two-part welcome page
To give it a whirl, click one of a dozen or so templates that are shown in the main
Choose the folder where you want to store your database
Make sure you’ve opened a database or created a new one
If you haven’t used the ribbon before (either in
Family table, each record would represent a single relative
If you followed the steps in the previous section to create a new database, you’re already at the