Organizing Database Objects
As you've seen, an Access database can contain many objects. The Northwind sample database contains about 75 objects. A large database might contain hundreds or even thousands of objects. Given that many different objects, how can you keep track of the ones with which you want to work? Access provides you with two ways to do this. First, you can group objects together in the Database window. Second, you can create Windows desktop shortcuts to open particular objects. You'll see both of these techniques in the remainder of this chapter.
To get started using groups, click the Groups button at the bottom of the object section at the left side of the Database window. This opens the groups area and shows you the built-in Favorites group. Click the Tables shortcut to display the tables in the database. Now drag the Customers table from the object list and drop it on the Favorites group, as shown in Figure 3.10.
Now click the Forms shortcut and repeat the process, dragging the Customers form from the object list and dropping it on the Favorites group, which is an object group Access supplies to get you started. Switch to the list of reports and repeat the process with the Customer Labels report.
Click the Favorites group itself. The list of objects in the group will be just those objects that you dropped there:
The Customers table
The Customers form (which Access renames to Customers1, so that it has a different name from the table)
The Customer Labels report
Figure 3.10 Dragging an object to a group.
You can double-click any of these objects to open them, or you can right-click them to get a shortcut menu.
You're not limited to the built-in Favorites group. To create a new group, follow these directions:
Right-click the Favorites group and select New Group.
Access opens the New Group dialog box.
Accept the default group name (Group1), or enter a group name of your own.
When you drag an object to a group, it creates a shortcut to the object, not a copy of the object. If you change the original object, the shortcut in the group automatically opens the new version.
The new group shows up in the Groups section, below the Favorites group.
To change the name of a group, right-click the group and select Rename Group. To delete a group, right-click the group and select Delete Group. You can create as many groups as you need to keep database objects grouped together. You can also place individual objects in more than one group if you want; just drag and drop them to each group in turn.
Using Desktop Shortcuts
Groups give you a way to organize objects within a database. There's one more way to easily get to a database object: Create a desktop shortcut for the object. To see how this works, follow these steps to create a desktop shortcut to the Customers form:
Click the Restore Down button in the Access window, so that Access doesn't take up the entire desktop.
Click the Forms shortcut to see a list of forms in the database.
Drag the Customers form from the Database window, out of Access, and drop it on the Windows desktop, as shown in Figure 3.11.
Access will create a desktop shortcut where you dropped the form.
Select File, Exit within Access to close the Access window.
Double-click the shortcut you just created on the desktop. Windows launches Access and then opens the Customers form (the splash screen and Main Switchboard also open).
Figure 3.11 Creating a desktop shortcut.
You can't rename or delete the built-in Favorites group. Don't be alarmed when you see that the Rename and Delete menu items are grayed out when you right-click that group.
You can create a desktop shortcut to any object in Access by dragging the object and dropping it on the Windows desktop. This gives you an easy way to have frequently used objects close at hand without needing to launch Access first.
The Absolute Minimum
In this chapter, you got to know the Database window and the objects it contains. An Access database can contain many objects, and all these objects are stored in a single file. The Database window in Access lets you view and manipulate Access objects. You also learned the following:
Table objects hold your raw data.
Query objects provide answers to questions about the data.
Forms provide a data-entry and display interface.
Reports enable you to make attractive printed versions of your data.
Pages help you publish your data to the Web.
Macros and modules enable advanced programming operations in a database.
Groups in the Database window let you create subsets of your objects for easy reference.
Desktop shortcuts let you launch Access and open a particular object, such as a form or a report, directly from the Windows desktop.