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Chapter 4. Working with Access Databases... > Defining the Elements of Access Data...

Defining the Elements of Access Databases

Access databases include the following elements in a single .mdb data-base file:

  • Tables store data items in a row-column format similar to that used by spreadsheet applications. An Access database can include as many as 32,768 objects (the combination of tables, forms, reports, queries, and so on), and as many as 1,024 tables can be open at one time if you have sufficient resources available. You can import tables from other database applications (such as xBase and Paradox), client/server databases (such as Microsoft SQL Server), and spreadsheet applications (such as Micro-soft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3). You also can link to Access databases other types of database tables (such as dBASE, FoxPro, and Paradox tables), formatted files (Excel worksheet and ASCII text), and other Access databases. Chapter 7 discusses linking, importing, and exporting tables.

  • Queries display selected data contained in as many as 16 tables. With queries, you can specify how to present data by choosing the tables that comprise the query and as many as 255 specific fields (columns) of the chosen tables. You determine the records (rows) to display by specifying the criteria that the data items in the query data must meet to be included in the display. Part II, "Designing Queries," explains how to create queries.

  • Forms display data contained in tables or queries and enable you to add new data and update or delete existing data. You can incorporate pictures and graphs in your forms, and, if you have a sound card, include narration and music in your form. You learn how to create forms in Chapters 12 and 13, and you learn how to add graphics to forms in Chapter 19. Access 97 forms also can incorporate Access VBA code in class models to provide event-handling subprocedures for forms and the controls that appear on forms.

  • Reports print data from tables or queries in virtually any format that you want. Access enables you to add graphics to your reports so that you can print a complete, illustrated catalog of products from an Access database. Access's report capabilities are much more flexible than those of most other relational database management applications, including those designed for mini-and mainframe computers. Like forms, you can include Access VBA event-handling subprocedures in Access 97 reports. Chapters 14 and 15 cover creating reports.

  • Macros automate Access operations. In prior versions of Access, macros took the place of the programming code required by other database applications, such as xBase, to perform specific actions in response to user-initiated events, such as clicking a command button. Access 97 supports macros primarily for compatibility with database applications created with earlier versions of Access. Microsoft recommends that you use Access VBA program code for any automation or event-handling procedures you create in Access 97 databases; future versions of Access are likely to phase out macro support in favor of VBA programming.

  • Modules contain Access VBA code that you write to handle events such as clicking a command button in a form, to create customized functions for use in forms, reports, and queries, and to otherwise automate database operations. By judiciously adding Access VBA code to your database, you can create complete database applications with customized menus, toolbars, and other features. Access VBA code enables you to programmatically control many database options and operations you can't control with a macro. Chapter 26, "Writing Visual Basic for Applications Code," describes how to write Access VBA code in general. Chapter 28, "Responding to Events with VBA 5.0," describes the specifics of writing event-handling VBA code stored behind forms and reports.



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