Templates: Access 2007


Perhaps one of the most significant improvements to Access 2007 when it comes to ramping up to using Access are templates. Unlike previous version of Access (like Access 2003), where upon starting you would be greated by a blank window, in Access 2007 you will be greeted by an assortment of templates to get you going:



This startup screen is what we call “Getting Started”. Through this functionality we will show you the templates available on the machine and through Office Online (Office’s web site). This allow us to update existing content and allow new templates we make available overtime available to our customers.


We believe that these templates will be very useful and will provide excellent examples of how to build a database. We tried to come up with really useful databases that will get you going right away, such as the Issues template. It is a complete tracking application for “issues”, items that by design can be customized/changed very easily to almost anything that can be tracked.


This is in stark contrast with the traditional idea of shipping a sample database (Northwind) with Access. Sample databases are very nice to use as standard data sets where you can try some changes and test some ideas, but very unhelpful in getting real life apps going.


Even further, templates are very useful to customers, so much so that we have had over 2 million downloads of templates in the last 12 months, and the backported version of the Issues template from Access 2007 is a big success.


Now that you can see why we’re investing all this time and effort, I’ll spend some time posting about the technical details about these templates. They are very different beasts from anything we did so far and worth understanding. That’s because Access being Access, we never keep the toys for ourselves – we like to share them with our customers. 

Comments (10)

  1. Stevbe says:

    <we never keep the toys for ourselves >

    Will be able to create our own templates?

    How about the multi-select checked listbox you use for multi-values fields … can we get that control?

    How about the property that tells you a record is locked? <– this would be huge!

    Thanks,

    Steve

  2. ThirdOfFive says:

    Hi Stevbe

    1) Yes, you will be able to create templates. That’s what I implied – I’ll talk about how in a later post so I can give the proper context and what creating templates implies;

    2) Unfortunantely, this control is only for complex data fields for now. I think Erik already spoke about this on http://blogs.msdn.com/access;

    3) That’s a great suggestion, but also unfortunantely this is not available for Access 2007;

  3. ThirdOfFive says:

    One more comment regarding point #3. Although there isn’t a property to tell if a record is locked, you can check it using VBA. You can check if the EditMode of the Recordset object is set to dbEditInProgress.

  4. Stevbe says:

    miffed about the market speak instead of development details …

    <we never keep the toys for ourselves >

    but you only off 1 of 3 (not even 3 of 5), no details (yet)  and my guess is that making templates falls further down the list of things that developers want than creating templates!

    How about the property that tells you a record is locked?

    All this would be is exposing a property that you guys are holding private, I know it must exist because you display it in the record selector bar and which looks ridiculous in single form view.

    This version of Access is eye candy only and makes it more difficult to develop real applications and removes ULS and replication … you are gutting Access. I guess Access developers have done too good of a job using it as a platform that now M$ figures it is losing SQL Server licensing. You are depricating ADPs ???

    No need to respond with the  … well sorry but the features are complete for 2007, maybe next version … right … next version my eye!

    Steve

  5. ThirdOfFive says:

    Hi Stevbe,

    Being a developer, I resent being accused of market speak 🙂

    I’m sorry that you feel this way. And no, I will not respond with a ‘maybe next version’ comment. Actually I’d like to hear specifics on why do you feel this version ‘makes it more difficult to develop real applications’.  Perhaps there is something we can do to alleviate any concerns you have or address specific issues/bugs. Feel free to use the "EMAIL" link in the top of this blog if you’d like to discuss this privately.

    Believe or not (I know it’s a cliche, but it’s the truth…), the feedback we get from customers is explored and investigated (and I’ve seen that for feedback that I relayed from customers that voiced them to me). We have already made a number of changes after Beta 2 *because* of customer feedback. And it wasn’t because they were small or easy changes.

    As for the property in question, as I mentioned above you can use VBA to figure out if the record is locked. You can check if the EditMode property of the Recordset object is set to dbEditInProgress.

    Finally, regarding you comment on the lack of development details in this post: I haven’t detailed how you will be able to create templates because I want to first delve into the technical details of templates. I want to dissect template files and show you all the details – all of this so when it comes time for you to have your templates, you will understand them from top to bottom and make the best use of it. Apologies if I wasn’t clear in this post – this is not all I have to say about templates, but only a brief introduction.

    thanks,

    3oF

  6. Stevbe says:

    <You can check if the EditMode of the Recordset object is set to dbEditInProgress. >

    Thank you, I will definately be using this … I suppose in conjunction with Timer, are there any events from ACEDAO I could hook?

    Steve

  7. Stevbe says:

    I apologize for being harsh. I was letting my passion for Access development get in the way of being reasonable, much less polite.

    While I realize I am still getting use to the new environment, in general it takes me more clicks to do just about anything that is not on a right click menu.

    Lets take a look at the query development process. I see my queries in the nav pane, but there is no "New Query" control displayed on the ribbon. OK … I can get use to having to click the create tab before clicking query designer, it is only 1 more click (lets not keep count, that only gets discouraging after a full day of development). So now I have created, saved and closed my query. I automatically get shuffled to the Home tab but I want to create another query, click the create tab … you get the idea. Now I want to chnage an existing query, the only way I have found to get it into design mode is to right click and select design because the View control is disabled until after I have selected my View mode, seems abit late to me.  I finsh, save, close, oops I want to work on another existing query but View doesn’t work again. I don’t see how this cycle makes sense.

    So, here is what I suggest. That the Design Tab include the Create  group of the specific object type I have selected in the nav pane or have opened in any view mode. If I single click on a table while I still have the query open, I would like to see the Table design/create tab because that is where my focus has shifted to and likely what I want to work with. If I close the table design I want to see the Query design/create tab, NOT be shuffled to Home, at least not until I close all object windows. Oh yes, please make the View control work for whatever object type I have selected, even before I open it.

    I will be using the report a bug thingy to provide details on the various display update issues (nav pane stutter, etc.) I have a fairly good PC and a dedicated video card and I know this is only beta but I would like to help make sure these issues don’t make it into the final release.

    Thanks for your patience and tolerance,

    Steve

  8. ThirdOfFive says:

    Hi Steve,

    Don’t worry – I get your frustration. Waiting a long time for release after release and not seeing the features you want and need for some you are passionate about is surely very irritating. Hopefully we’ll be able to address it – the key here is to keep the dialogue going. If we don’t know what’s going on your mind we likely won’t be able to make things better.

    Regarding the locked record, I think Timer is the one you want.

    I’m following up on your feedback right now with our Ribbon Interaction Expert ™ fellow. I’ll add a comment here as soon as possible with the follow up.

    Please do report as many bugs as you can – as far as we’re concerned we want to ship Access as bug-free as possible. I appreciate the zeal in getting these bugs reported 🙂 And thanks for the feedback – good feedback like this is like gold to us…

    thanks,

    3oF

  9. Clint Covington says:

    Steve,

    Thanks for you concrete feedback on the ribbon. This was very useful for me to hear about your experience and continued development.

    When we developed the navigation pane one of our goals was to keep the interface as clean and focused on navigation as possible. We talked about putting create new options on the group headers but decided against it because we wanted to encourage people to use the Create ribbon where we could provide them with a richer set of new options in the galleries. We didn’t have the option to host the galleries from the nav pane headers which would have been cool.

    At one point we had an option in the nav pane to open an object directly into design view—it was probably a mistake that it was removed. We had feedback that the navigation pane was getting too busy.

    One of the challenges in UI development is keeping it clean and simple. The more times you provide different ways to perform an operation the more visual clutter that compete for attention. Another challenge is to keep designs familiar with the other Office applications. Users coming from the other apps should be able to leverage their knowledge in the Access domain. It isn’t an explicit goal to be exactly like the other apps but to follow the general user model.  

    WRT your specific scenario—we have so many different users that use the product in such different ways. Some people create lots of reports while others create many queries. We have also found different databases that have different requirements. For example, a user that is constantly importing data and scrubbing queries might focus on import from Excel and new query, while a user that is building a database for end users is creating many forms.

    The quick access tool bar (QAT) should help remove extraneous ribbon switching. You can right-click on either a command or group in the ribbon and add it to the QAT. It would be pretty easy to right click on all the New Object in Design view icons and have them readily available at any time.

    I agree with you that the View control should allow you to flip the object into design view. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this release. However, if you think about it… Right-click on the object and select design is the fastest and shortest mouse distance to get into design view even if we did enable able the View menu.

  10. Stevbe says:

    The fact that to use the ribbon to take an object into design mode requires that you load it running first is just plain odd. Yes, I right click but how discoverable is it if there simply is no button on the ribbon to go to design mode? If this was a concious decision it must have been very painful.

    OK … try this, open a query in design, open a table in design mode the design tab is automatically selected, that is a good thing. Now switch between the table and the query, the ribbon goes back to the home tab, that is a bad thing and is not even contextually relevant. I made a consious decision to view put the object in design mode and left it like that, but when I go back to that object you disregard my original decision. While the tabbed interface makes working with multiple objects a lot easier (and yes by inference I hope you can tell I like that:-) the ribbon behavior takes those gains away by making us pay a penalty by always going home.

    Well, back to testing out more pieces 🙂

    Steve