If you have any experience with Access in the past then when you start Access 2007 up for the first time you might be in for a bit of a learning stretch. At its core, 2007 is very similar to prior versions. However, the interface has been completely revamped. You will see this change immediately upon startup. The new startup screen can be seen below.
This first screen, as is stated above, is referred to as the Getting Started with Microsoft Office Access Screen. The purpose of this screen is to guide you in the creation of a new database or open prior documents. On the left is your navigation pane. On this first screen, the navigation pane is used mainly to choose a template for a new database. This includes featured templates, most of which must be downloaded before use, as well as other templates organized by categories such as Business, Personal, and Education. The center of the screen is devoted to template samples and the option to create a new blank database. If you want to open a previous database, you need to select it from the Recent Documents pane on the right. If it isn't there, then you need to open it by selecting the button on the top left (this is the Office Button and will be introduced in the next section) and find it either in recent documents or select Open and navigate to it.
For this Tutorial, we will be starting a blank database; this is to introduce base elements. To begin, select Blank Database and name your database on the right. Something to note here is that Access requires you to save the database to start. Once you have named it, select Create. A new screen should appear that looks something like this...
The New Interface
Whether you have past experience with older versions of Access or this is your first time with the program, this screen should look completely new to you. All Office 2007 applications use a new interface. On the surface, this can be intimidating but with time and experience you will hopefully come to appreciate the new design or at the very least understand it.
The main layout of Access 2007 is the same as all Office 2007 programs. The first thing to note is the button at the top left of the screen. This button is called the Office Button. If you are familiar with older Office applications, the Office Button essentially takes the place of File. If you are completely new to Office applications, the Office Button contains commands to start new databases, open old ones, save your current database, or publish it in some manner (i.e. printing). The Office Button menu is organized into roughly three parts. The left part contains all the instructions, mentioned earlier. The right part is a list of all recently altered or created documents. The very bottom of the menu is an options button and an exit Access button. The most important feature of the options menu, opened by clicking on the options button, is the default file format and folder. The default file format stipulates how all new databases will be saved. This is important if you work with people who have yet to upgrade to Access 2007, as you will need to save your documents in an older format. The default database folder decides where databases are saved by default.
The next new feature of Access 2007 is the Quick Access Toolbar. The Quick Access Toolbar is found directly to the right of the Office Button. It contains commands that you will commonly use. By default it will contain the commands for saving, undoing, and redoing something. The Quick Access Toolbar can also be customized to contain any command that you use on a regular basis. An example of something you might want to add is your Print Command. To add this command to your Quick Access Toolbar, open your Office Button and scroll down to the print command. Right click on the command and in the pop up menu select Add to Quick Access Toolbar. You will now notice that there is a small icon of a printer on your Quick Access Toolbar. If you later decide you no longer want it there, you can remove it in the same fashion by clicking on the icon on the bar and selecting remove.
The most important new feature to the interface of Access is the Ribbon. The Ribbon has taken the place of the entire toolbar from prior versions. The Ribbon consists of Tabs, Groups, and Commands. Tabs are self-explanatory, they are the buttons that run along the top of the ribbon and organize into various categories of actions. These Tabs include Home (all the most common commands), Create (essentially insert, all commands related to adding new objects), External Data (mainly deals with importing data from other word applications), and Database Tools (deals with creating macros and building relationships). Within these tabs are groups, which organize the commands into even more specific categories. The Font group, found on the Home tab, contains all commands related to font including color, size, and orientation.
The last portion of the interface of Access is not completely new, but has been reworked for 2007. This is the Navigation Pane. The Navigation Pane is where all content related to your database will be displayed. Over the course of this tutorial, we will create tables, forms and reports; each of these objects can be seen and navigated between on the Navigation Pane. This pane can also be organized by clicking on the small down pointing arrow at the top and choosing one of the multiple options. You can hide the Navigation Pane by hitting the F11 key and it can be brought back in the same fashion.
The last point to make about the interface is that it has numerous keyboard shortcuts that can help you. The shortcuts will not be discussed individually but if you are curious about them you can see each one of them by holding down the alt key. When you hold down the alt key you will see a few letters and and numbers appear over the tabs on the Office Button, the Quick Access Toolbar buttons, and the Ribbon Tabs. If you hold down the alt key and hit any of these buttons, you will open their respective menus or actions.
Before we get started with actually creating our database, let's familiarize ourselves with the different views. To switch between views you need to click on the view command in the Home tab. Simply clicking on this will toggle between the following two views. There are two other views that can be reached by clicking on the down arrow on the bottom portion of the button.
If you have followed the instructions from earlier, then you should be in Database view to start off. The main use of this view is to input formatting options for data and for purely data driven users to input data. The basic layout of this view is that the top row is the fields. By default, you should have one called ID. While it is possible to customize and add fields from this view, it is not the easiest or the best way.
The Design View is the best way to input new fields and edit the type of records that can be entered for them.