The last time I bought a suit, I went to the local men's clothes shop,
got a suit off the rack, had the local tailor make some adjustments, and
my suit was ready to wear. The time before that, I did pretty much the
same thing. As a matter fact, with every suit I have ever bought I have
gone through the same drill.
But there is a different way to buy a suit, it's called a bespoke suit.
For a bespoke suit, you select your fabric, a talented tailor takes your
measurements, asks your preference of styles, and creates a suit
specifically designed to your tastes and for your body. The advantages
and disadvantages of both of these approaches are fairly clear. The
off-the-rack suit is fast, easy, and relatively inexpensive. The bespoke
suit takes a lot more time and a lot more money, but it is exactly the
suit that you want tailored to be an exact fit for you.
With Access 2007/2010, we have a ribbon instead of the menu. The ribbon
is the equivalent of the off-the-rack suit. You can make some changes and
they are not terribly difficult to make, but after you have completed
your adjustments, the ribbon may not be exactly what you want, nor may it
be the best fit for your needs. However, it is relatively painless to
make these changes and it doesn't take a whole lot of time and energy. If
you want to build a customized menu in Access 2007 or 2010, the
equivalent of a bespoke suit, you have to build from the ground up using
a language known as Extensible Markup Language (XML) and use callback
functions to empower code.
This month we will begin a series of Ribbon customizations. We’ll
begin simply with the equivalent of off the rack and eventually move all
the way to a bespoke Ribbon – a Ribbon we will build from the ground up.
A note before we start on Ribbon
customizations: The approach I am going to show you for adjusting the
built-in ribbon is available only for Access 2010 and beyond.
Unfortunately, in Access 2007 the ability to easily customize a Ribbon is
not available and you must use XML.
As an overview of the framework, ribbons are arranged in tabs. Each tab
consists of groups. In each group, you have individual commands,
controls, and menus that provide you with further commands.
Before you can begin customizing your ribbon, you have to understand the
terminology that Office uses for its intereface. The Ribbon itself is the
overall structure of all the options appearing at the top of the screen.
For this month’s Wizard,
we will only be looking at the main Ribbon, but you should be aware that
you can have as many ribbons as you would like for your application, as
long as you are willing to build from scratch.
To get to the customization window, take the following steps:
Click on the File Tab.
Select Customize Ribbon.
You will end up
with the following window:
For our demo purposes, we will do something very simple: Add a group to
the home screen and, in that group, add a command that allows us to go to
the design view of the current form or report.
To start, click on the + to the left of the Home tab on the right-hand
side of the menu above. This will expand the Home tab, and you will see
lines for views, clipboard etc. Since we want to add a new group, you
want to click on the new group button at the bottom right hand side on
your screen. At this point, your screen should look like this:
When you click the New Group Button, you will get the following screen:
This dialog allows you to name your group whatever you would like and to
associate a picture with the group. The dialog box will list a predefined
set of pictures that are consistent with the Office commands. Be aware
that if you want to add your own custom pictures you can; however, that
is considerably more complicated and something that we will cover at a
We will call our new Group “My Custom Group” and choose the happy face to
go along with it by clicking on the icon as you see below. Once you have
selected it, click OK.
The next step is to add a command to our new group. First, make sure that
the new group is highlighted on the right side then, on the left-hand
side of the screen, click on the design view icon. You will see that the
design view has jumped over below My Custom Tab. At this point, click OK
and your changes will be saved. You will also be notified that you must
close and reopen the current database for the specified option to take
effect. This is misleading in that only some customizations require you
to close and reopen the database; this type of change to an existing menu
is not one of those.
After you have done this, you should now see that you have a new group on
your home tab called My Custom Group and, in that group, you have the
option to go directly to a design view when appropriate.
and a Look Ahead
example, although trivial, can immediately make your life easier by
putting commands you use frequently front and center. This does little
more than scratch the surface of the types of things you are able to do.
You can take any of the existing commands and put them onto any existing
group on an existing tab, or even on a tab of your own making.
In the next Wizard,
we’ll see how to create your own commands rather than choosing from
existing items. With this technique, you will be able to get into much
deeper customizations because you will be able to have your ribbon
display commands that are unique to your needs, rather than the generic
needs of other Access users.