Apr 24

Top Five Tips for Using Combo Boxes on Microsoft Access Forms

Country ListMicrosoft Access combo boxes let you display data for users to select values from predefined lists. Using them effectively simplifies data entry and accuracy.

Brush up on the ComboBox Basics from Microsoft, and check out our Top Five Tips for using Combo Boxes on Microsoft Access forms. Each of them has articles describing them in more detail.

1. Set Important ComboBox Properties

To use combo boxes effectively, learn about the following properties:

* LimitToList: Set this property to Yes to prevent values that are not in your list.
* AutoExpand: Set this property to Yes to automatically select a matching value in the list as you type.
* ListRows: Set this value to a high value so that the drop down shows as many list items as space allows.

2. Properly Validate a ComboBox

Use the ListIndexproperty instead IsNull to properly validate that a valid ComboBox list item is selected.

3. Select the First Item in a ComboBox on a Microsoft Access Form

Use the following syntax to automatically select the first item in a ComboBox when the form loads, or when the value of another control on the form changes:

Me.ControlName = Me.ControlName.ItemData(0)

4. Create Cascading ComboBoxes on Microsoft Access Forms

On a form with multiple ComboBoxes, you may want to make the selection in one ComboBox limit the choices in another ComboBox. To do this, add code to the “AfterUpdate” event of the first control that updates the RowSource property of the second control.

Microsoft Access Cascading Combo Boxes

5. Enter a Zip Code and Auto-Fill the City and State Names

Use Total ZipCode Database from FMS to automatically fill a ComboBox with a list of valid City / State combinations when the user types a zip code.

Microsoft Access Cascading Combo Boxes

Apr 24

Preserve Your Free 25GB Microsoft SkyDrive Account before it Becomes 7GB

Microsoft’s SkyDrive service has offered everyone a free 25GB hard disk in the cloud. This lets you store your files, backups, and even share files with others. It’s an amazing free offer that we’ve mentioned in the past.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has just reduced the free amount to 7 GB. That’s still generous, is more than Apple’s iCloud, and is what’s offered to new customers. For a limited time, any registered SkyDrive user *who has uploaded files to SkyDrive* as of April 22nd can opt in to keep 25GB of free storage while still getting all of the benefits of the new service

So, if you already have a SkyDrive account, they are letting you keep your 25GB disk but you need to claim it.
Simply log into your SkyDrive account at skydrive.com with your Microsoft’s Windows Live credentials. On the bottom left of your account page, and click on the “Manage Storage” link. You’ll see a listing of storage plans, and under “SkyDrive Free” a button that says “Free upgrade!”

Just click it and you should see this:

Additional Resources

Note: After losing a court case in the UK, Microsoft has renamed SkyDrive to OneDrive.

Apr 23

Microsoft Access versus Microsoft Excel for Data Analysis and Reporting

Microsoft ExcelMicrosoft AccessChoosing Between
Spreadsheets and Databases

We are often asked by Microsoft Office power users whether, why, and when they should use Microsoft Access versus Microsoft Excel. Especially when they are very comfortable using MS Excel and don’t understand the reasons why anyone would use MS Access or databases. We’ve written a new paper that describes the issues in detail:

  • How Microsoft Access and Excel Empower Information Workers
  • Advantages of Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets
  • Disadvantages of Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets
  • Advantages of Microsoft Access and Databases
  • Disadvantages of Microsoft Access
  • How they Should Work Together

Paper: Microsoft Access versus Microsoft Excel for Data Analysis and Reporting (Spreadsheets vs. Databases)

Apr 02

Impact Aid Survey Form Software for Federal Education Funding

Software System to Manage Impact Aid Suvey Forms for Department of Education Funding

See how our Microsoft Access database application is helping the Washington DC Public System (DCPS) more efficiently and accurately secure their Impact Aid funding from the US Department of Education.

US Department of EducationWhat is Federal Impact Aid for Primary and Secondary Education?

Many local school districts across the United States include within their boundaries parcels of land that are owned by the Federal Government or that have been removed from the local tax rolls by the Federal Government, including Indian lands. These school districts face special challenges — they must provide a quality education to the children living on the Indian and other Federal lands and meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, while sometimes operating with less local revenue than is available to other school districts, because the Federal property is exempt from local property taxes.

The Impact Aid law (now Title VIII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) has been amended numerous times since its inception in 1950. The program continues, however, to support local school districts with concentrations of children who reside on Indian lands, military bases, low-rent housing properties, and other Federal properties, or who have parents in the uniformed services or employed on eligible Federal properties. The law refers to local school districts as local educational agencies, or LEAs.

To secure this funding, school districts send survey forms to their students' parents, collect the results, and submit the claim to the Department of Education.


Helping the Washington DC Public School System Process their Federal Impact Aid Survey Forms and Secure Funding

As you can imagine, the federal government has a lot of workers and property in Washington, DC that don't pay local property taxes to fund education.

The Washington DC Public Schools (DCPS) consists of over 100 public elementary and secondary schools and learning centers. Each year DCPS sends out survey forms to determine the residential and parental employment status of their students. This information is used to determine Impact Aid funding for students who live or have parents who work on federal property.

Database Software Solution

By automating a process that was previously performed manually, FMS helped DCPS achieve increased efficiency and accuracy with an easy-to-use, easy-to-deploy, and easy-to-support, multiuser Microsoft Access application.

Professionally designed and deployed, FMS created reports and processes to help DCPS identify a larger number of federally connected families, and file the forms to obtain federal funding.

Results

The application increased funding which more than paid for our services and allows DCPS to devote more resources to their classrooms. The payoff will continue year after year.

Let us know if your school systems could benefit from claiming these Impact Aid funds with our database application.

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