Microsoft Access Applications
March 9, 2005 1:15 PM   Subscribe

How do I implement a more custom look for a Microsoft Access database?

I have built a Microsoft Access database, and need to roll it out to multiple people. It is a local only database, but it utilizes three seperate MDB files, one of which is an interface file.

Is there any way I can make it so the interface file looks more like an application than an Access database? ie. Can I remove the background window, and only show form windows? What can be done to make it look better than what it does?
posted by benjh to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
Look under Tools/Startup in the menus.

There you can designate a form to open at launch, which you separately (in the form's own definition) set to maximize upon opening. This will fill the window the opening form. Make sure all your forms maximize to maintain consistency. This is done with your choice of VB code or with macros.

You can also turn off various tool bars with that startup menu to keep people from breaking things. It's not significant security, but it reduces the chances of malice-free accidents happening and simplifies the interface that your users see.

After making changes like these, to open your app in the more familiar development view you must hold down the shift key during the entire process of opening the file, such as when double-clicking your database file in Windows Explorer or on your desktop.
posted by NortonDC at 5:41 PM on March 9, 2005

My tone is not intended to be snarky, but there is a wealth of information on this just a googleclick away. It's not a question that can be adequately answered in a thread comment, although NortonDC gave it a fair go.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:59 PM on March 9, 2005

The expensive, official and (for me) untested solution is Microsoft's packaging and deployment wizard, which comes with Office Developer. This is how you distribute runtime (stand alone) applications - YourDB.exe, regardless of whether the user has Access installed. Honestly, it scared the hell out of me, and I haven't taken this on.

Let me just say, in general, rolling out a db is a nightmarish pain in the ass, because you really have to make sure that everyone has the same edition/updates of Access, Windows etc. to really guarantee that it will work consistently. Also, distributing updates is tricky as well, as is consolidating data between users (front-end/back-end vs. replication vs. email me your copy this weekend and I'll send it to you on Monday and please don't do any work on it in between then)

But the one biggie, to make it seem more standalone, is to create a shortcut to your db(s) that uses the command-line switch "/runtime." This takes away menus, denies access to the underlying tables/queries etc (meaning everything the user needs to do has to be able to be accessed via forms). Plus, you can change the icons for your shortcut to something else, making it seem official.

Runtime mode is designed for testing an application before it is officially distributed as a genuine runtime application. It also means any VBA error they encounter becomes a 'runtime error' and the whole damn thing grinds to a halt.

On preview: 'nightmarish' is a bit strong, but there are way more things to consider than seem initially obvious.

posted by BleachBypass at 1:49 PM on March 10, 2005

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