What's new in Access 2013

What’s new in Access 2013? In a word, apps. An Access web app is a new type of database that you build in Access, then use and share with others as a SharePoint app in a web browser. To build an app, you just select the type of data you want to track (contacts, tasks, projects, and so on). Access creates the database structure, complete with views that let you add and edit data. Navigation and basic commands are built-in, so you can start using your app right away.

 Tip    To learn how you can get started creating an Access 2013 app or desktop database quickly, see Basic tasks for an Access app or Basic tasks for an Access 2013 desktop database.

To find out more about Microsoft Office, see What’s new in Office 2013.

Getting started with apps

Building an app

Using your SharePoint server or Office 365 site as a host, you’ll be able to build a polished, browser-based database app. Under the hood, Access apps use SQL Server to provide the best performance and data integrity. On the startup screen, click Custom web app.

The Access welcome screen, showing the template search box and the Custom web app and Blank desktop database buttons

 Note    With Access 2013, you can still create traditional desktop databases from scratch. Or, try out a template to create an app, a desktop database, or an Access 2010-style web database.

Table templates

Quickly add tables to your app using pre-designed table templates. If you’re tracking tasks, search for the Tasks template and click it.

The table template search box on the Access Welcome screen.

If you see the multiple-table indicator next to a template, that means Access will add commonly used related tables for you so you can get started with a truly relational database (relational database: A type of database that stores information in tables. Uses matching values from two tables to relate data in one table to data in the other table. In a relational database, you typically store a specific type of data just once.). Access creates views for each table that display data from related tables.

For more information, see Create an Access app, Create an Access app from a template, and Basic tasks for an Access app.

External data

Import data from Access desktop databases, Microsoft Excel files, ODBC data sources (ODBC data source: Data and the information needed to access that data from programs and databases that support the Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) protocol.), text files, and SharePoint lists.

Data source selections: Access; Excel; SQL Server/ODBC Data; Text/CSV; SharePoint List.

For more information, see Import data into an Access database.

Opening in a browser

When you’re done designing, don’t look for a compatibility checker or a Publish button. Your app is already live—just click Launch App.

The Launch App button on the Home tab.

UI created automatically

Navigation included

Access apps save you the trouble of building views, switchboards and other user interface (UI) elements. Table names show up on the left edge of the window, and the views for each table appear across the top:

An Access app showing tables down the left side and the View Selector across the top.

All apps have a similar navigation structure, making it easier for people to learn and switch between apps. You can always add more custom views besides the ones provided by the app.

For more information, see Find data in an Access app.

The Action Bar

The built-in views each have an Action Bar with buttons for adding, editing, saving, and deleting items. You can add more buttons to this bar to run any custom macros you build, or you can remove buttons you don’t want people to use.

The Action Bar showing Add, Delete, Edit, Save, and Cancel buttons.

For more information, see Customize a view by creating a user interface macro and Add custom actions to the Action Bar.

Views easier to modify

Apps let you put controls where you want them without making adjustments to the layout first. Just drag and drop—the other controls move out of the way to make room.

When moving a control on a view, other controls adjust automatically.

Callouts for setting properties

Instead of searching through a property sheet for a particular setting, settings are available via callouts located conveniently next to each section or control.

A view in Edit mode, showing the Formatting settings for a text box.

New controls for working with related data

Related Items control

The Related Items control provides a quick way to list and summarize data from a related table or query. Click an item to open a detail view for that item.

A view in an Access app with tasks displayed in a Related Items Control.

AutoComplete control

The AutoComplete control looks up data from a related table. Think of a combo box that works more like an instant search box.

An AutoComplete Control partially filled out, showing the suggested value underneath.

Drill-through links

Drill-through links let you quickly view details about a related item. Access apps handle the behind-the-scenes logic to make sure the right data is displayed.

Clicking a drill-down button in a view to open a detail view.

For more information, see Find data by adding a popup form.

New deployment options

Permissions improvements

Get more control over who can modify your app. SharePoint now comes with three default permissions levels–Designer, Author, and Reader. Only Designers can make design changes to views and tables. Authors can change data but not the design, and Readers (you guessed it) can only read existing data.

Package and distribute apps

Access apps can be saved as package files and then added to your Corporate Catalog or the Office Store. At the Office Store, you can distribute your app for free, or you can charge a fee and make some spending money.

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Access 2013