Getting Started with Designing the Database Interface

In today's workshop, we will learn how to create a user-friendly interface for the University of the Midwest's class registration database using Access 2016's Forms and Reports tools. We have been building this database over the entire Access 2016 workshop series and now that the infrastructure of the database has been created, we will learn how to design, build, and modify customized forms and reports to create the interface we need. Toward the end of the workshop, we will learn how to clean up the database. We will also package it for our end-users to make it behave like a standalone application.

Opening the Database

We will launch Access and open the UofMW.accdb database.

Step1. Launch Access.

Step2. To begin opening an existing database, in the left pane,

Click Open Other Files

Step3. To continue,


You see the Open dialog box.

We need to specify the name and location of the file to open.

Setting the Location for Opening Your File

When the dialog box opens, it lists a default location from where the file will be opened. All of our exercise files are contained in the epclass folder, located on the desktop. We'll want to change our location to this folder.

We will start at the desktop, since our exercise file folder, epclass, is located there.

Step1. To move to the desktop,

Clickthe Desktop button

The current location is now set to the desktop. All of our exercise files are contained in the epclass folder, located on the desktop.

Step2. To open the epclass folder,

Double-Clickthe epclass folder icon

The epclass folder contents are now visible.

We will need to open the Access Designing subfolder of the epclass folder that contains all of the necessary documents.

Step3. To open the correct folder,

Double-Click the Access Designing folder

Step4. To open the database,

Double-Click UofMW.accdb

Step5. To enable the content in the database,

ClickEnable Content

NOTE: You may see a dialog box asking if you want to make this file a Trusted Document. Trusted Documents are ones that you know are secure and don't contain any malicious code. By saying Yes, you would avoid having to step through the Enable Content button when opening the file in the future. For the purposes of this workshop, you can choose whether you want to click Yes or No.

Step6. To make the file a trusted document, if necessary,


The database is now open and we are ready to start to work.

Viewing Database Relationships and Objects

The tables in the UofMW.accdb database will probably look familiar to you if you took the workshop Access 2016: Analyzing & Modifying Data with Queries. The relationships between the tables have already been defined. Let's review the structure of the database as we get started by viewing the relationships between the tables.

Step1. To activate the Database Tools tab, on the Ribbon,

Click the Database Tools tab

Step2. To view the database relationships, in the Relationships group of the Ribbon,


You see the Relationships window:

Tthe Relationships window showing thirteen related tables

There are many tables to manage the different kinds of information needed in a course registration system. Note there are two junction tables that allow us to simulate a many-to-many relationship. The Enrollments table connects students and sections, so that sections can have multiple students, and each student can take more than one class. In a similar way, tblSectionsInstructors is the junction table between instructors and sections, so that there can be more than one instructor for a class.

Step3. Close the Relationships window.

Reviewing Forms and Reports

Since the focus of this workshop is on creating forms and reports, we will begin by reviewing a form and a report created in a previous workshop.

First, we have a number of queries that were created in Access 2016: Structuring & Relating Data that we won't be using for a while, so let's hide them for now.

Step1. To hide the list of queries, in the Navigation Pane,


The query section is collapsed.

Let's start by reviewing a relational form.

Step2. To view a relational form,

Double-Click frmDepartmentsAndFaculty

When we originally created this form in Access 2016: The Basics, tblDepartments only had one relationship, with tblFaculty. With that relationship in place, we were able to create this form very simply, just by selecting the Departments table and clicking the Create Form button.

The main form shows the department information, and the subform shows the faculty in that department. From here, we could add or update records in tblDepartments or in tblFaculty.

Next, we'll look at a report.

Step3. To view a relational report listing a department and its faculty,

Double-Click rptDepartmentsWithFaculty

This report shows the same information as the form. Remember that reports are not for data entry; instead, they create a snapshot of the data at the time that it's run.

We'll close both the form and the report for now.

Step4. To close both objects,

Right-ClickrptDepartmentsWithFaculty tab, Click Close All

As we've seen, reports display information in a way that is different from forms. This is because forms are used to input data, and reports are used to share data with people who may not have access to the database.

Next, we will create a form for registering students into course sections.