Chapter 6. Entering, Editing, and Displaying Data
You can enter data directly into Access tables. That includes unassuming values such as names and dates, as well as more exotic items such as photos, sound files, and PowerPoint presentations.
But most of the time, you'll prefer to enter data in a formeven if it's just a plain old vanilla AutoForm, which you can create in a few seconds. With its powerful graphical features, forms are the best way to enter, edit, and view data on your computer screen.
When you type data into a table, you can easily enter a value in the wrong column or row. Furthermore, if the value is a long text string, much of it will remain out of sight in those tiny datasheet cells. Forms might not offer unlimited real estate, but they do give you a roomier venue for data entry and display. Indeed, values that were partially hidden in the table either are completely visible or can be easily scrolled. And forms do pictures justice: In a table, a photo of the Grand Canyon at dawn is reduced to a two-word description, such as Bitmap Image; in a form, it shines in full glory.
Because forms are often much more elaborate than datasheets and you work in them far more than in tables, there's some tendency to think of forms as the core of your database. But your data is stored in tables; the form is merely a medium to display it. If you recall the story of Cyrano DeBergerac, it was gifted-but-ugly Cyrano who wrote all the beautifully poetic letters that handsome-but-dumb Christian got to read to pretty Roxanne. In database terms, Cyrano is a table, and Christian is a form.
Actually, that hardly does justice to forms. The use of forms isn't simply a matter of aesthetics. Well-designed forms greatly improve the efficiency of data input. You can also combine fields from several tables in a form, which enables you to create documents that are much more comparable to their real-world counterparts than those based on a single table.
In this chapter, we look at data entry and editing, primarily in forms, but also in datasheets. You'll learn about tools and functions that help you display data more effectively. The chapter also lays the groundwork for Chapter 11, "Forms/Subforms," which covers key tools of form creation.