A form is a database object that offers an alternative interface to a table beyond the Datasheet view of the table. Forms can improve data entry proficiency by rearranging the order and tab sequence of fields within a table. Forms can also be designed to hide certain fields from appearing. For example, a credit limit or credit card number field might only be accessible from the table Datasheet view to limit the access to sensitive data from users who do not have rights to view or edit tables. In Access, users have the option of creating a blank form from scratch, using the Form Wizard, or having Access automatically create a form from a table or query.
A basic form can be easily created by using the Form tool. Simply select the table (or query) in the Navigation Pane that the form should be based off of, and then click Create > Form (from the Forms group). all the fields from the underlying data source are placed on the form. If Access finds a single table that has a one-to-many relationship with the table or query that you used to create the form, Access adds a datasheet to the form that is based on the related table or query.
A split form can be created by clicking More Forms from Create tab, and then choosing Split Form. A split form displays two views of the data simultaneously — a Form view and a Datasheet view. Working with split forms provides the benefits of both kinds of forms in a single form. For example, a user can use the datasheet portion of the form to quickly locate a record, and then use the form portion to view or edit the record.
To be more selective about what fields appear on your form, use the Form Wizard. This multi-step process allows the user to define how the data is grouped and sorted, and in some instances, fields from multiple tables/queries can be added to the same form. Once a form is created, use the different views to modify the forms design or populate the forms with data. Forms have three views:
- Form view – shows the data in the form. This is the view to use to enter or change data. Record controls at the bottom of the form are used to display specific records and add a new record (the right arrow with the yellow star). The form’s design properties cannot be changed in this view.
- Layout view – shows the form and the data in a visual layout. This is the view that opens when a form is initially created. Some of the form design properties, such as field fonts and column widths, can be changed in this view. However, the data cannot be changed in this view. Notice the Form Layout Tools contextual tabs!
- Design view – shows the form design, but not the data. Any aspect of the form’s design can be changed in this view, but the data cannot be changed. The Design, Arrange and Format contextual tabs appear for this view too. The Design tab allows the user to modify the color, fonts or theme of the form. A logo, title and/or date/time field can also be added to the form. Form controls (buttons, text boxes, combo boxes, etc) can also be added. The Arrange tab is used for modifying the order and position of the fields on the form. The Format tab allows the user to modify the style of the form including the fonts and a background image can be added.
A user can switch between views as often as desired while customizing the form. Switching views can be done by using the View button on the Ribbon, or the three icons at the bottom right of the Access window.
If a field in a table has been modified after the form is created, the existing form does not automatically update. The form can be modified, but sometimes it is easier to delete the existing form and recreate it based off of the new table settings.