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Those of you transitioning to Access 2010 or 2007 from earlier versions of the product may notice the addition of a new property on the TextBox and ComboBox controls: Display As Hyperlink. You may wonder how this new property interacts with the existing Is Hyperlink property. I asked that question myself and found that the available documentation left some of my questions unanswered. So I’m writing this blog post to hopefully fill that void.
First of all, if you’re happy with pre-Access 2007 behavior, just keep Display As Hyperlink set to its default value, “If Hyperlink”.
The key point about Display As Hyperlink is this: You’ll want to change Display As Hyperlink to “Always” if you want a combo box or text box to appear like a hyperlink even though it’s actually tied to a text field not a hyperlink field. By doing this, you can leverage your users’ familiarity with the hyperlink look and feel and encourage them to click on a field in order to trigger some action.
You’ll see examples of this technique throughout the Access templates. For instance, take a look at the ID field in the Contact List form in the Contacts template. Clicking on the ID field drills through to the Contact Details form for the specified row.
Setting Display As Hyperlink causes the text in the ComboBox or TextBox to be colored blue and underlined. (Note that the hyperlink color doesn’t have to be blue. It can be customized.) Additionally, when hovering over the control, the cursor turns from a pointer into a Hyperlink Hand.
In the past, folks might have accomplished these goals by just setting Is Hyperlink to “Yes”. But there are three subtle problems with this approach. One problem is that setting Is Hyperlink to “Yes” does not make the control’s OnClick event keyboard-accessible. But setting Display As Hyperlink to “Always” means that when the user tabs to the control and hits the Enter key, any macros tied to an OnClick event will be run.
The second problem with setting Is Hyperlink to “Yes” is that it causes the control to be editable as if it’s a hyperlink. So you can right click on the control and select “Edit Hyperlink”. This doesn’t make sense when the field is not actually the hyperlink data type, and can lead to undesirable results.
The third problem with setting Is Hyperlink to “Yes” is that it causes the text of the control to be parsed as if its datatype is "hyperlink". The hyperlink datatype in Access makes it possible for a single field to store and edit the display text, address, sub-address and tooltip for a hyperlink.This is done by storing the four values together in a single line of text with the values separated by hash signs. Specifically, the syntax is: DisplayText#Address#SubAddress#Tooltip. Putting aside the tooltip and sub address for the sake of example, when you set a hyperlink field to Microsoft’s web site, that value is stored in the database as “Microsoft’s Website#http://www.microsoft.com##”.
So if you were unfortunate enough to set Is Hyperlink to “Yes” on a field with values that have # signs in them, no text after the # sign would get displayed to the user. The user might enter “200 Main Street, Apartment # 23”. But when they looked back at the form, they would only see “200 Main Street Apartment”. Setting Display As Hyperlink to “Always” does not cause the text of the field to be interpreted as an encoded hyperlink.
One final note: There’s an additional third option for Display As Hyperlink: “Screen Only”. This is a great option to use when building the kinds of interactive reports which are now possible with Access 2007 or later. You want the field to show up as a hyperlink on the screen, but when the report is printed out, there’s no need to show the text as blue and underlined.
I hope this can help you understand a new property in that can be a bit confusing at first sight.
This is a good new feature. I have an Access 2002 database where I needed some fields to display in this manner and it was very convoluted getting it to work correctly. Access 2007 makes it much easier.