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Sure, that sounds like the frustrated outburst of an overworked technical writer, but when you build Access applications for others to use, you're pretty much on the hook to write the Help for them.
Last month, we featured the “How to synchronize combo boxes" template, and commenter Shairal was interested to know how the "Click to see details" reports were done.
I think this is a pretty clever way to add Help to your Access applications.To summarize the system, the links (actually command buttons formatted to look like hyperlinks) open a simple Access report, and the report is bound to a table that contains all of your Help topics. The correct topic is determined by filtering the report so that it displays the appropriate record from the table. That filtering is done by the OpenReport action of the embedded macro in each command button. Here’s how to do it:
The first step is to create the table that contains the Help content. In the template, this is named tblExplanations, and in Design View, it looks like this:
I’ve selected the Explanation field so that you can see the Text Format property is set to Rich Text. This field contains the body of the Help topic, so you want to be able to add bolding, underlines, and so on. Once you create this table, (or better yet, just import this table’s structure into your own database), you can fill it in with your “assistance content”, as we tech writers call it:
For each row, type a unique keyword or phrase in the Source field, which you will use later to filter the report when you run it. For example, if the topic is about adding employees, type something like “Adding Employees” or “AddEmp”.
The next step is to create the report. In the template, this is called rptExplanations. You might just want to import this from the template into your own database to save yourself the trouble of recreating it, but it’s very simple to create. Here’s what it looks like in Design View:
You don’t really need the Source field to be displayed on this report, but it’s included here for your reference. As long as you have the Title and Explanation fields in the Detail section, you’re good to go. Also, be sure the Explanation text box is set to display Rich Text, so that your formatting comes through.
The final step is to sprinkle command buttons throughout your application where they are needed, so your users can click them to view the Help topics. Here’s a screenshot of the properties for one of the command buttons in the template:
The On Click event contains an embedded macro. To create an embedded macro:
Here’s one of the macros from the template:
The Where Condition argument of the OpenReport macro action is where you link the button to the correct topic. In this example, circled above, the filter is “VBA Code”. This makes the report display only the topic that contains that string in the Source field.
Note that this example might a bit confusing because of the string “VBA Code”—that’s just because the Help topic is about using VBA code, so that’s what was chosen as the key phrase for the Source field. As mentioned in an earlier example, if the topic were about adding new employees to your database, you might use a keyword such as “AddEmp”, and the Where Condition argument would look like this:
Now, as you add more features to your application, just add more rows to tblExplanations, and more command buttons at strategic locations in your application. You can even create a form based on tblExplanations to make it easier to write new topics.
Chris, what a great example for ms access power users . How about example on how to install the runtime side by side with a different versions of ms access? kindly post some techniques and tweaks implemented by Sagekey...its really a big help. Thanks,