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One of the areas we worked hardest at in Access 12 was in simplifying the UI and using available screen real estate. As you know in Access 2003 new objects are opened in a new window. It is not uncommon for a simple Access application session to have 8-10 windows open at a time. As new windows open the database container window (DBC) constantly gets pushed behind new objects as they open. I bet a few of you have worn out the F11 keystroke bring the DBC back into the foreground.
(click to enlarge)
We did two things to that are at the heart of streamlining the user experience. First, the DBC has been re-written as a left hand docked window. We are introducing tabs that allow you to open multiple objects and navigate between the objects much easier. Opening a new window will never open the object on top of the DBC even without tabs. It is very easy to collapse the navigation pane into a small vertical strip running down the left side. To reclaim even more vertical space the ribbon can be collapsed as well.
Objects in a database can be grouped a few ways:
Object Type (tables, forms, reports, queries, macros). This is pretty similar to the way things worked in previous versions but you can now see all objects in one window.A filtering menu allows users to view all groups or focus in on one at a time
A navigation options dialog allows you to manage all of the options in one central place.
Using the new OM for the navigation pane developers can lock it down and focus end users on what’s most important for them (this is a nice way of saying “keeping them from hosing the database”).
In conjunction with the navigation pane the new single document interface (SDI) mode further stream-lines the experience. If this new option is set, forms and reports are opened in tab windows instead of MDI windows. This has a dramatic effect of reducing the visual noise a user experiences. It allows people to take advantage of the screen real estate available in modern computers.
SDI is the default option for new databases but your old databases will still default to the MDI window style. I think many of you will want to update your applications to take advantage of this new interface.
We are finding that users really appreciate the new premium placed on utilizing screen real estate. The new features allow users to view more and more of the data with less noise. In a future blog I will tell you more about how control anchoring allows developers to build applications that make even better use of the new SDI interface.
Well, I'm a fan! :)
I have a quick question - sort of off subject. Will Access 12 (Office 12) work with Windows XP when it is released, or will we be required to use Windows Vista (assuming the two are released the same time). BTW - this stuff looks very cool! I am way excited about this new interface. I hope I can get my hands on an early beta. Will the first beta be available in Technet?
Access 12 will work with WinXP. It will not require Vista.
Regarding item #4: Custom Groups
"A custom group has a title and holds shortcuts to database objects." This sounds similar to the Favorites groupings that one could create in the DBC. In Access 2000 and 2002--and presumably 2003, although I'm not using the latest version--one could create custom groupings with shortcuts. Sometimes I like to export the results of a query to an Excel spreadsheet, by using the drag and drop technique. I found that this only works if you drag a saved querydef from the Queries view and drop it onto a spreadsheet. If one attempted to drag a shortcut from the Favorites grouping, it will not work. Has this been corrected in Access 12? Thank You.
I'm worried! I'm working with a complex Access-system with lots of Access-programs with lots of functions. I have looked down the user so that they don't have any tool bars and they don't see the DBC. Is this still possible in Access 12? I don't want the user to do anything with the program except to use it as I have designed it. How will it be to develop programs in Access 12, will we be able to extend or turn off the ribbon? I see lots of new functions for the user off Access, but what about the user of programs developed in Access? Forgive my ranting, it will be interesting to see the new version, but I'm not sure that we will upgrade. Markus
The system you describe will still be possible, and you can extend the ribbon. More about that is on Jensen Harris's Office 12 UI Blog, as well as a bit about how the ribbon handles command-bars-based customization: blogs.msdn.com/.../11280.aspx Since Access is historically much more of a developer platform than other Office applications, we've put some good thought and time into it to make sure that scenarios like the one you describe can still (at least) work. With a little bit of extra effort, you could make your app even look better with the ribbon.
I have the same concerns as Markus. Most of the apps I develop are for heavy production use and I don't want the users to even know there's a database window in behind, and especially a whole bunch of 'cool features' hidden away that they could use to get into real trouble. Most of my users don't even know the app was written in Access.
Looks good. You use the Navigation object model to tie things down, but how do you stop people from accessing your tables from elsewhere, e.g. linking from elsewhere or doing it programmatically, since you are doing away with user-level security? I've looked around for info on this, but can't find any.
For cases where you need security on tables why aren't you using SQL Express? It is free and much more secure than a file system database.
why aren't you using SQL Express? You can't have 5 GB of data in SQL Express.
If you have 5 GB of data even with Jet you would need to split the data into multiple databases. Couldn't you do the same thing with SQL Express and link servers? Aternatively, you can continue to use MDB databases with user level security if that is fitting your needs--you just wouldn't take advantage of the new complex data stuff. Regardless, 5 GB of data and the need for table level security is a pretty good indication that SQL Server is the right solution for your storage needs.
We did fix the issue about shortcuts. Dragging a new custom group shortcut into Excel will create copy the data to Excel just as dragging and dropping a query.
Hi Clint, I really do hope that Access ADPs will properly support Application roles applied to ALL of the Access connections. I would not want to have my users get access to my SQL Server objects when I give them permissions for the ADP app. As you know, there are a few hidden connections (subforms, combo/list boxes, and the DBC in particular) in Access 2002/2003 that make it difficult to properly apply app role security.