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> In A Bind - Need To Make Better Ui, Access 2016    
post Feb 7 2019, 03:05 PM

Posts: 5
Joined: 12-May 16

Hi guys,

I has been quite some time since I was last on here and I am glad to see the site is still up and running stronger than ever. I have taken on a client who would like me to update the look and feel of his Access application. He has various programs some web based, some iPad apps, but all tie back or interface to the bread and butter which is his program written in Access. It has been going strong about 15 years and now he would like it to look more modern and by that he means more like his iPad and web based apps. I am pretty good at html and have built some nice sites but when it comes to UI with Access I have always struggled with scalability between screen sizes. I can make it look great on one computer but then the next screen may be completely different. I would like to add some background images and a menu bar similar to what you would see in the afore mentioned more modern apps, but I get the suspicion that I am better off shying away from maximized pop-ups that would get rid of the "hey this is running in Access" look and feel. With that being said does anyone have suggestions on how to approach this project? I am looking for do's and don'ts maybe summarized somewhere and/or good examples of what clean and effective forms/UI should look like for Access. I am assuming there is so much cumulative knowledge in this forum that some of you must have slugged it out in trial and error and can save me from repeating the same pitfalls. I come humbly seeking your sage advice. I do know more specific questions are more likely to be answered, but in this case I don't have one specific issue (other than how do you write forms that scale on most pc's).

Thanks folks

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post Feb 7 2019, 03:20 PM

UtterAccess VIP
Posts: 1,413
Joined: 4-June 18
From: Somerset, UK

There are many things that others may respond to in your question.
I will just focus on form resizing.
You can do some adjustments using the Access layout guides & anchoring but I don't find it very satisfactory

Various commercial solutions exist to handle form resizing e.g. Shrinker Stretcher by Peter's Software.
I've looked at the evaluation version but never purchased it.

However I have used free open source form resizing code by Jamie Czernak for many years and it works very well.
I use it in all my commercial apps and in many example apps as well e.g. Control the Application Interface

Suggest you study that in conjunction with the following comments ....

To use in your own apps:
1. Import the entire module modResize

2. Design all forms with dimensions that would fill your screen in a low resolution such as 800*600 or similar
Typically I use approx. 20cm * 12.5cm .
All objects will then scale up when used in higher resolutions and on larger monitors
You will also need to use smaller for sizes in design view e.g. 7pt which will scale up to about 11pt when resized

3. Add the line ResizeForm Me to the Form_Load event

That's it. Very easy once you've tried it.
This post has been edited by isladogs: Feb 7 2019, 03:23 PM

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post Feb 7 2019, 07:41 PM

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Posts: 6,642
Joined: 30-June 11

Regarding different screen resolutions, refer to http://www.devhut.net/2017/09/08/access-fo...een-resolution/

As for look and feel, this is extremely subjective! You can create web based buttons images and use them in forms to replace the more tried looking Access buttons. I've never understood people wanting to use Access, but not feel like it's Access, or hide the Application itself.

Replace the dull grey background. Add a little 'controlled' color. Use nice icons rather than the 1980's icon supplied by Microsoft, eliminate command bars and switchboards and instead build your own Ribbon (hide the default one).

Check this very forum for some screenshot of what others have done, some are quite impressive and great inspiration.

Daniel Pineault (2010-2018 Microsoft MVP)
Professional Help: http://www.cardaconsultants.com
Free MS Access Code, Tips, Tricks and Samples: http://www.devhut.net

* Design should never say "Look at me". It should always say "Look at this". -- David Craib
* A user interface is like a joke, if you have to explain it, it's not that good! -- Martin LeBlanc

All code samples, demonstration databases, links,... are provided 'AS IS' and are to be used at your own risk! Take the necessary steps to check, validate ...(you are responsible for your choices and actions)
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tina t
post Feb 7 2019, 08:22 PM

Posts: 5,956
Joined: 11-November 10
From: SoCal, USA

I've never understood people wanting to use Access, but not feel like it's Access, or hide the Application itself.

i agree, Daniel! as someone who writes Access applications for my co-workers, and for myself, to use daily in our jobs, i can say that we're focused on how easy the interface is to use and how well it meshes with and supports our work flow, and how stable it is - no crashes, no unhandled errors, no lost data. in 20 years of writing end-user apps in Access, i've never ever had a daily user say they wished the app was prettier, etc. the focus has always been on how well, or poorly, it helps us get our work finished quickly, efficiently, and accurately.

my guess, with no hard data to back it up, is that folks who care about how modern/pretty an app looks, are folks who don't use it seriously, and frequently. ;)


"the wheel never stops turning"
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post Feb 8 2019, 08:20 AM

Posts: 147
Joined: 5-March 14

Following up on Tina t's point: Please ensure the UI has a "flow". The fields and actions should be placed in a type of path, so the user doesn't have to hunt for the next step. (An exception would be placing related objects in a group. For example, you would place an image-editing button next to an image). It is very frustrating to work with a UI flow that zigzags back and forth across the window.

This discussion reminds me of a TED talk from 2008 where Microsoft software engineers discussed how they redesigned the Office interface. They defined the following software design tenets:
-- A person's focus should be on their content, not the UI. Help people work without interference.
-- Reduce the number of choices presented at any given time.
-- Increase efficiency
-- Embrace consistency, but not homogeneity.
-- Give features a permanent home. Prefer a consistent-location UI over a "smart" UI.
-- Straightforward is better than clever.

I try to keep these in mind when designing UI's, but ultimately, honest user feedback is the most helpful.

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Jeff B.
post Feb 8 2019, 11:52 AM

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Posts: 10,254
Joined: 30-April 10
From: Pacific NorthWet

… and one more chime-in …

When I create/work on a system, I try to eliminate the need for either a 'user manual' and/or 'training'. Ideally, the person who needs to get his/her job done will be able to use the app without having to resort to code tables or sitting through training. As has been mentioned, a big part of making that happen is spending time with the user(s) to ensure that I understand the job they are trying to get done. That isn't to say that it's necessary to blindly follow/implement what the users are NOW doing … the user is … the user. S/he may be doing something that they learned from someone who is no longer there and didn't fully understand the job, and/or the job may have changed, and/or the managers may have new requirements/processes in place, and/or … I try to not only see what/how the job gets done now, but also look for ways to 'break' it. I'd rather incorporate fixes before there's an issue than have to explain why their shiny new application doesn't handle the new situation...


Jeff Boyce
Microsoft Access MVP (2002-2015)

Mention of hardware or software is, in no way, an endorsement thereof. The FTC of the USA made this disclaimer necessary/possible.
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