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Old 12-04-2018, 04:06 AM   #1
Tieval
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Switchboard - Odd Request

Is it possible to make the standard switchboard multi-column?

This may sound a strange question but I find using a switchboard as an entry page for a database for too space-taking.

As the switchboard takes the full width of the form, is it possible to split it into two columns to reduce how far down the page it goes (this would buy me space below it) or alternatively is it possible to reduce the width of it to free up space down the side of it (presumably by using it as a sub-form)?

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Old 12-04-2018, 04:28 AM   #2
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

No.
The standard switchboard has many limitations and most developers makes their own to suit their own needs.

For example the screenshots attached show a main 'form' with 3 columns
The main (centre) column has up to 20 options. The right column also has 20 options which change according the centre option chosen
The left column has a further 6 options giving a theoretical total of 6+ (20*20) = 406.
In the app shown, there are actually about 260 choices
It sounds likely you need nothing as complex as that!
Attached Images
File Type: gif MainMenu.gif (40.8 KB, 36 views)
File Type: gif MainMenuGrades.gif (51.5 KB, 25 views)
File Type: gif MainMenuStaffTimetable.gif (49.2 KB, 25 views)
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Old 12-04-2018, 06:07 AM   #3
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

The switchboard is one of the most advanced features of MS Access.

However the user interface, the interface for the programmer to add forms, reports and the like, is abysmal!

This has led to many ms-access developers dismissing it out of hand, and develop their own systems.

The latest version of the switchboard has been converted to macros. The earlier version, which consisted of VBA programming is a fantastic example of data-driven design. if you intend hacking the switchboard to your own use then I would suggest acquiring the VBA version.

Basically the switchboard form is a single form with just eight command buttons on it.

The separate, abysmal user-interface I referred to, collects information from the programmer as to where s/he would like individual menu items to appear, and stores that information in a table.

The VBA code, and of course the macro version, extract the information from the table and create the switchboard form programmatically. In other words the data in the table drives the look, feel and function of the form.

It would be possible to create a three-column display, you would need to add fields to the table to provide the information as to which column the item(s) should go in.

You would also need to alter the VBA code to suit.

I am currently working on (as a rainy day project) a new programming interface for the switchboard which I hope will be more intuitive than the abysmal original version.

With regard to the dismissive attitude of some programmers to the switchboard, to some extent their negativity is justified because of its poor user/developer interface. However as a tool, it is very useful and if you get to understand how it works you can learn some very clever programming techniques.

Some extra functionality I would like to add (or already have added) to the switchboard.

Ability to call a function and pass parameters through that function.

Use "user permissions" to only display items available to a particular user.

Allow the user to create their own menu system with drag and drop so that they can put the items they like on pages that suit them.

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Old 12-04-2018, 06:19 AM   #4
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

Have you looked at Navigation forms? Instead of buttons you have a choice of horizontal tabs, vertical or both.
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Old 12-04-2018, 08:28 AM   #5
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

@AB
I agree that navigation forms can look really good.
However, in my experience, the built in navigation forms are difficult to work with if you want to modify them in any significant way.
Similar to split forms in that respect.

Do you have a more positive experience with them?
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Old 12-04-2018, 08:55 AM   #6
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

I'm with Colin about the inbuilt navigation forms. Highly confusing if you don't understand they are loading and unloading subforms. But they do look pretty.

I like Tony, actually like the old inbuilt switchboard and the simplicity of how it works.
I've modified it for to add more buttons, and a few extra options, but would probably also add columns and an access level constituent to make it properly useful.

Colin's hand rolled example is also something I've used on many an occasion. I think it depends on what you need and the level of complexity.
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Old 12-04-2018, 11:21 AM   #7
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

Quote:
Originally Posted by isladogs View Post
@AB
I agree that navigation forms can look really good.
However, in my experience, the built in navigation forms are difficult to work with if you want to modify them in any significant way.
Similar to split forms in that respect.

Do you have a more positive experience with them?
Yes, each tab represents an open form. Unlike a button. Once the control is formatted to your preference you simply drop forms / subforms onto the tabs. You can have 11-12 open forms horizontally within one control. This makes opening forms instant without any memory issues.

The only downside is the setup of the control itself, also the amount of space needed horizontally / vertically makes it a poor choice for smaller screens like laptops.

This would be best suited for individuals who need to jump between related forms for data inputting.

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Old 12-04-2018, 12:12 PM   #8
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

Hi AB
Sorry if I wasn't clear.

I know what they are and how they work
However I've found them extremely unsatisfactory in cases where I've made any significant modifications to the basic design.
For example using nested subforms or tabbed subforms on a navigation form
Plus, I find referencing controls can be to put it mildly unintuitive.
As a result I NEVER use the MS navigation form

By contrast, I use 'standard' tabbed forms on a regular basis and find them extremely useful e.g. where I want to
Quote:
jump between related forms for data inputting
I have similar issues with MS split forms - fine as long as you don't want to modify them! Total PITA if you do so (so I NEVER use them either)
That was the original reason for the emulated split form 'project' last year.
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Old 12-04-2018, 01:28 PM   #9
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

Yeah I hear ya, its not for everyone. It's kinda like a down and dirty shortcut, similar to the original switchboard that everybody hated. Although I do see the original switchboard still making an appearance every now and then.
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Old 12-04-2018, 01:50 PM   #10
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

Quote:
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I do see the original switchboard still making an appearance every now and then.
It's available for MS Access 2016, but it's a hidden option.
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Old 12-04-2018, 05:18 PM   #11
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

Just out of interest, where exactly is it hidden these days?
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Old 12-04-2018, 06:24 PM   #12
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

Type switchboard in the access search / help box.
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Old 12-04-2018, 06:31 PM   #13
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

Thanks
It really was hidden ....Couldn't find it in 2010 though

It looks just the same as I remember from the 'good old days' of 2005 or so.
I remember making them several pages deep and finding ways somehow of getting more than 8 items on a page. No idea how I did that now
Ahhh ... progress!
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Old 12-07-2018, 12:43 AM   #14
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Re: Switchboard - Odd Request

Thanks for all the comments and advice, pretty much what I thought, just hoping for one of those hallelujah moments when somebody said 'just do this', I did suspect it wouldn't happen though.

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