Learn Microsoft Access Advanced Programming Techniques, Tips and Tricks.

Dynamic Report

Report designing in MS-Access is very easy as we already know. Once we setup a procedure to run the macros/programs to prepare the data for a standard Report, all we need to do is to design the Report and add it to the Report List. Every time the User runs the report it is ready to Preview or Print. The Source data may change, based on the report period setting, but there will not be any change in the structure of the Report or source data or need any change on the Report design itself as all the standard labels, like main heading, Report generated for which period, prepared date, Page Numbers etc. are already taken care of as part of the initial report design task.

We are going to discuss a Report that is not so easy to plan on the above rules or based on a fixed source data structure. The structure of the source data is not predictable or shall we say field names of the source data can change every time we run this Report. If the data structure changes every time then you cannot put the field names permanently on the report design as we normally do. Adding to the difficulty the number of fields for the report also may change. Even more difficult situation is to create Report Summary figures at Group-level and Report Footer level Grand-totals.

When someone asks for something difficult we can easily say it is not possible and the user may swallow it too, provided if he/she doesn't know computer programming at all. In the Software world when someone says no to something, it simply means that he doesn't know how to do it, at least for the time being. I fall in this category too. But, then after saying that it keeps me disturbed and starts asking myself, can I write it off just like that or find a way somehow to do it. It may take a while to have a plan, get things organized, to try something on those line of ideas and finally to come up with something that works. Doesn't matter how many steps you have taken to achieve that. The final result is that matters. You can always go back and review the steps and refine them. But, there are times that we have to stick to the No answer too.

Let us get into the problem solving instead of beating around the bush. I was trying to be little philosophical. It is not that big as you are imagining by now, after listening to my bragging.

Before getting into the Report preparation part, first I will show you some sample lines of data and the Report Format that we need to deal with. The sample data is taken from two familiar Tables from the Northwind.mdb sample database; Employees and Orders, which we have already used in earlier examples.

In the above table, the Shipped Date range is from July 10, 1996 to May 6, 1998. Our task is to prepare a Report from the following Employee-wise, Year-wise, Month-wise formatted data shown below:

sample data table view

When a sample Report is designed using the above data as source, it will look like the image given below.

The Report contents should be for a period of 12 months and data selection criterion is set for the period Between 199607 (July 1996) and 199706 (June 1997) in the data selection Query of the Report. In the Details Section, the report fields are inserted. Report Footer controls are set with the Summary formula taking month-wise Totals. Field Heading Controls are defined with month-Year labels. So far so good, we can open the report in Preview or Print, no issues.

But, when the data selection criteria changes for a different period the Report will not run. It will show error on the first field that do not match with the fields already placed on the Report and refuses to open to Preview or Print.

An alternative method is to create a Report Table with Field Names like M1, M2 to M12 for holding January to December Data and use an Append Query to add the report data into this table and design Report using this permanent field Names. We must find a way to define the field header labels with some formula taking the values from the report period parameter. The user can create report data for full 12 months or lesser period for a particular year. Then we are putting conditions on the user asking him to select data for a particular year only, not to cross from one year to the other when entering criteria.

If he/she goes for a trial run with cross over period then the data for earlier period comes at the right end of the Report and later period at the beginning. The field headings are another issue to take care. Finally we cannot call it a good report or let us put it this way, is not a user-friendly report.

We found a remedy for this issue by introducing a small program on the Report VB Module to take care of the final stage designing task based on the source data structure, every time we open it to preview or print.

  1. To get prepared for the Program, Import the Tables Employees and Orders from the Northwind.mdb sample database, if you don't have them. If you don't know the location of the sample database visit the Page Saving Data on Forms not in table for location references.
  2. Copy and paste the following SQL String into new Query's SQL Window and save it with the Names as indicated below:
    Query Name: FreightValueQ0
    
    SELECT [FirstName] & " " & [LastName] AS EmpName,
     Val(Format([ShippedDate],"yyyymm")) AS yyyymm,
     Orders.Freight
    FROM Orders INNER JOIN Employees ON Orders.EmployeeID = Employees.EmployeeID
    WHERE (((Val(Format([ShippedDate],"yyyymm"))) Between 199607 And 199706));
    
    Query Name : FreightV_CrossQ
    

    TRANSFORM Sum(FreightValueQ0.Freight) AS SumOfFreight SELECT FreightValueQ0.EmpName FROM FreightValueQ0 WHERE (((FreightValueQ0.yyyymm)<>"")) GROUP BY FreightValueQ0.EmpName PIVOT FreightValueQ0.yyyymm;

  3. After creating the above Queries one after the other design a Report as shown below using FreightV_CrossQ Query as Data Source.

  4. In the Detail Section of the Report create 13 Text Box Controls; make the leftmost one slightly bigger for the Employee's Name and others for month-1 to month-12. Change the Name Property of the Text Boxes as M00, M01 to M12 from left to right (write two digit numbers in the Name Property as 01, 02 etc. along with prefix M). Leave the Control Source property empty.
  5. In the Report Footer Section create 13 Text Box controls and Name them from T00, T01 to T12. Leave the Control Source Property empty.
  6. In Page Header Section create 13 Label Controls and name them as L00, L01 to L12 and leave the Caption Property empty.
  7. Create a Label at the Top and set the Caption property value to EMPLOYEE-WISE FREIGHT VALUE LISTING.
  8. While the Report is still in design view select Save from File menu and save the Report with the name FreightVal_Rpt.
  9. Select Code from View menu to display the VB Module of the Report.
  10. Copy and Paste the following Code into the VB Module:

    Private Sub Report_Open(Cancel As Integer)
    Dim db As Database, Qrydef As QueryDef, fldcount As Integer
    Dim rpt As Report, j As Integer, k As Integer
    Dim fldname As String, ctrl As Control, dtsrl As Date
    Dim strlbl As String, fsort() As String
    
    On Error GoTo Report_Open_Err
    
    Set db = CurrentDb
    Set Qrydef = db.QueryDefs("FreightV_CrossQ")
    fldcount = Qrydef.Fields.Count - 1
    
    If fldcount > 12 Then
       MsgBox "Report Period exceeding 12 months will not appear on the Report."
       fldcount = 12
    End If
    
    Set rpt = Me
    
    ReDim fsort(0 To fldcount) As String
    For j = 0 To fldcount
        fldname = Qrydef.Fields(j).Name
        fsort(j) = fldname
    Next
    
    'Sort Field names in Ascending Order
    For j = 1 To fldcount - 1
        For k = j + 1 To fldcount
            If fsort(k) < fsort(j) Then
                fsort(j) = fsort(k)
            End If
        Next
    Next
    
    For j = 0 To fldcount
    'Monthwise Data    
    Set ctrl = rpt.Controls("M" & Format(j, "00"))
        ctrl.ControlSource = fsort(j)
        Set ctrl = rpt.Controls("T" & Format(j, "00"))
        If j = 0 Then
            ctrl.ControlSource = "=" & Chr$(34) & " TOTAL = " & Chr$(34)
        Else
            ctrl.ControlSource = "=SUM([" & fsort(j) & "])"
        End If
    
    'Header labels
    If j = 0 Then
        Me("L" & Format(j, "00")).Caption = "Employee Name"
    Else
        dtsrl = DateSerial(Mid(fsort(j), 1, 4), Right(fsort(j), 2), 1)
        strlbl = Format(dtsrl, "mmm-yy")
        Me("L" & Format(j, "00")).Caption = strlbl
    End If
    Next
    
    Report_Open_Exit:
    Exit Sub
    
    Report_Open_Err:
    MsgBox Err.Description, , "Report_0pen()"
    Resume Report_Open_Exit
    End Sub

  11. After copying the code minimize the VB Window, display the Property Sheet of the Report and check whether the On Open property is marked with the [Event Procedure] Value. If it is not, then the code we have pasted is not correctly loaded into this event. Select [Event Procedure] from the drop down list and open the Code module, cut the Code (except the top and bottom lines that we have pasted from the Web page) and paste the Code within the newly opened Empty Report_Open() . . . End Sub lines, remove the orphaned lines, and save the Report.
  12. Open the Report in Print Preview. Your Report must be loaded with the Values from the Source Query with correct heading Labels and the Report Footer Summary.
  13. Open the First Query in design view and change the Criteria values in different ranges, taking care that the Range of values are not exceeding 12 months (it can be less than 12), and try out the Report.

If the selected period exceeds 12 months the Report will open with the data that fits into the maximum number of fields, after showing a message indicating that the selected period exceeds 12 months.

If the selected period is less than 12 months then the rightmost controls will be empty. In either case the Report will open and we can view the contents.



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MS-Access and Mail Merge-3

Continued from previous Post MS-Access and Mail Merge-2.

MAIL MERGE IN MS-ACCESS

We have already designed and tried the Form Letter preparation procedure through the earlier article. We need all those Objects for the Mail Merge in Access and here we have less work to do. I hope you understood the intricacies of the procedure explained there and how all those objects and methods works together to prepare the Form Letter. Since, we are through with the major designing tasks already; we can concentrate on the implementation of Mail Merge method with some minor changes in two or three places.

I will give few examples below as how to insert Field Values from the Report source Query/Table and how to use Built-in Functions into the letter body text on the editing Form. The user needs only few simple rules to keep in mind to use the Mail Merge method.

I will insert the Main Program Codes at the end of this Article. You may Copy and Paste them in appropriate locations in your Project as suggested there.

Usage of Field Values to merge with the Text:

  • Data Field Names must be enclosed in square brackets [ ] and there should not be any typographical errors in Field Names.
  • Use of at least one space between field names is recommended, if they are placed next to each other, but can be used without space also.
  • Field Names must be picked from the Report Source Data Table/Query only and can be inserted anywhere in the text.
  • Data field values from other Table/Query can be inserted with the help of built-in Functions (like DLOOKUP()), see usage of built-in functions given below.
  • If Field Names are joined with & + ' * / (for character or numerical values) it will not be treated as an expression, instead the symbol will appear between the field values. (See Usage of built-in functions for expressions involving Field Values).

Usage Example -1: A Statement of Year-wise special Sales Incentive, credited to [TitleofCourtesy] [Firstname] [LastName]'s personal A/c., is given below for information. His request for transfer to his home town [City]&[Zip] has been approved.

Output : A Statement of Year-wise special Sales Incentive, credited to Dr. Andrew Fuller's personal A/c., is given below for information. His request for transfer to his home town Tacoma&9801 has been approved.

NB: The inserted text will not appear in bold as shown above, it is used here for highlighting the results only.

Usage of Built-in Functions to Merge the result with the Letter text:

  • Built-in Functions must be enclosed in { } brackets.
  • Nested Functions should have only the outermost pair of { } brackets, like in {Format(Date(),"mmm-yy")}
  • Data Field Names enclosed in [ ] can be inserted as parameter for Built-in Functions, like DLOOKUP().
  • Expressions involving Data Field Names enclosed in [ ] can be joined with + - * / symbols in numerical expressions, & in text data expressions and must be inserted as parameters to the built-in Functions.

Example: To find the 90 days credit period expiry date: {Format([InvoiceDate]+90,"dd/mm/yyyy")}

Usage Example-2: A statement of Year-wise special Sales incentive, of [TitleofCourtesy] [FirstName] [LastName], for a sum of ${DLOOKUP("TotalAmt","Yearwise_Incentive","EmployeeID = " & [EmployeeID])} is credited into his personal A/c. during {Format(DateAdd("m",-1,Date()),"mmm-yyyy")}, is given below for information. His request for transfer to his home town [City], has been approved effective {Date()+15}.

Output: A statement of Year-wise special Sales incentive of Dr. Andrew Fuller, for a sum of $8696.41 is credited into his personal A/c. during Sep-2007, is given below for information. His request for transfer to his home town Tacoma, has been approved effective 30/10/2007.

Don'ts:

[ ] and { } brackets should not be used within the letter body text anywhere other than enclosing Field Names and Built-in Functions respectively.

NB: A simple validation check is performed on the input text for matching pairs of [ ] and { } and if you leave out one closing ] in one Field and one opening [ in a different Field the validation check will not detect it and you will end up with Errors. In that case find out the errors, correct them and re-run.

Always print a trial run page of the letter and check the output thoroughly for accuracy before the final print.

We need to make few changes to the Objects as a final step, the Cross-tab Query, the Letter editing Screen and on the Report Design.

  1. Copy and paste the SQL String given below into the SQL window of Yearwise_FreightQ1 Query that we have created earlier overwriting the old SQL String and save the Query. This change is to create a new column for Total Amount of 1996, 1997 & 1998 figures.

    TRANSFORM Sum(Yearwise_FreightQ0.Sales) AS SumOfSales
    SELECT Yearwise_FreightQ0.EmployeeID,
     Sum(Yearwise_FreightQ0.Sales) AS TotalAmt
    FROM Yearwise_FreightQ0
    GROUP BY Yearwise_FreightQ0.EmployeeID
    PIVOT Yearwise_FreightQ0.Year;
  2. After saving the Yearwise_FreightQ1 run the Make-table Query: Yearwise_IncentiveQ by double-clicking on it to create the output table Yearwise_incentive with the new column TotalAmt, which we have used within the DLOOKUP() Function in the usage Example-2 above.
  3. Open the letter editing Form (Letter) in design view, create a Combo Box to display the Report Source Data Field Names, which the Users can reference and type them correctly into the Body Text. See the image below:

    Turn off the Control Wizards (the Magic Want Symbol) on the Toolbox, if it is on, before clicking on the combo box control on the toolbox. Draw a Combo Box on the Form anywhere convenient on the design surface (I have placed at the left side of the body text area). Display the Property Sheet of the Combo Box and change the following property values:

    • Name = cboFields
    • Row Source Type = Field List
    • Row Source = LetterQ
    • Column Count = 1
    • Column Width = 1"
    • List Rows = 8
    • List Width = 1"
  4. Copy and Paste the following revised Code into the VB Module of the above Form (Letter) for the cmdPreview Button:

    Private Sub cmdPreview_Click()
    On Error Resume Next
    Me.Refresh
    DoCmd.OpenReport "Letter", acViewPreview
    
    If Err > 0 Then
      MsgBox "Errors in Report source Data."
      Err.clear
    End If
    
    End Sub
  5. Save the Form with the above change.
  6. Open the Report named Letter in design view. Click on Para1 text box control and remove the field name Para1 from the Control Source property. Change the Name property to Para1x.
  7. Remove the Field Name Para2 from the second Text Box's Control Source property and change its Name Property to Para2x.

    Both Controls now show as Unbound Text Boxes.

  8. Copy and paste the following VB Code into the VB Module of the above Report:

    Private Sub Report_Open(Cancel As Integer)
    Dim xPara1, xPara2, ErrFlag1 As Boolean
    Dim ErrFlag2 As Boolean, x
    
    On Error Resume Next
    
    xPara1 = DLookup("Para1", "LetterQ")
    xPara2 = DLookup("Para2", "LetterQ")
    
    'submit para1 for parsing
    ErrFlag1 = False
    x = MailMerge(xPara1)
    Me![Para1x].ControlSource = x
    
    If Err > 0 Then
        ErrFlag1 = True
        Err.Clear
    End If
    
    'submit para2 for parsing
    ErrFlag2 = False
    x = MailMerge(xPara2)
    Me![Para2x].ControlSource = x
    
    If Err > 0 Then
        ErrFlag2 = True
        Err.Clear
    End If
    
    If ErrFlag1 Or ErrFlag2 Then
       MsgOK "Errors Found, Correct them and re-try."
    End If
    
    End Sub

  9. Save the Report after the changes.
  10. Open a new Global VB Module in your Project. Copy and paste the following Main Programs and save the Module. The lines of code above the Function MailMerge() are Global Declarations and must appear at the top-most area of the Module.

Type ParaTxt
    text As Variant
    status As Boolean
End Type

Type SpecRec
    LsStart As Integer
    Lsend As Integer
    LfStart As Integer
    Lfend As Integer
    Str As String
    fun As String
End Type

Dim V As ParaTxt, DatF() As SpecRec, DatF2() As SpecRec

Public Function MailMerge(ByVal inpara) As String  
'------------------------------------------------------  
'Author : a.p.r. pillai  
'Date   : 01-10-2007  
'Remarks: Scan and Parse Text  
'------------------------------------------------------
Dim i As Integer, k As Long, L As Long
Dim i2 As Integer, xpara, ypara, yxpara
Dim j As Integer, xchar As String
Dim qot As String, size As Long
Dim curlbon As Boolean

On Error GoTo MailMerge_Err

yxpara = inpara

V.text = inpara
V.status = True

qot = Chr$(34)

strValidate 'run validation check

If V.status Then
  MailMerge = yxpara
  Exit Function
End If

'scan for Merged Fields
'ignore if embedded within built-in Function

xpara = V.text

i = 0
For j = 1 To Len(xpara)
  xchar = Mid(xpara, j, 1)
  If xchar = "{" Then
     curlbon = True
  End If
  If xchar = "[" And curlbon = False Then
     i = i + 1
  ElseIf xchar = "}" And curlbon = True Then
      curlbon = False
  End If
Next

If i > 0 Then
  i = i + 1
  ReDim DatF2(1 To i)
Else
  GoTo chkFunction
End If

'Parse embedded fields
L = 1: curlbon = False
For j = 1 To Len(xpara)
  If j = 1 Then
    DatF2(L).LsStart = 1
  End If

  xchar = Mid(xpara, j, 1)
  If xchar = "{" Then
     curlbon = True
  End If
  If xchar = "[" And curlbon = False Then
    DatF2(L).Lsend = j - 1
       size = DatF2(L).Lsend - DatF2(L).LsStart + 1
       DatF2(L).Str = Mid(xpara, DatF2(L).LsStart, size)
       DatF2(L).LfStart = j
  End If
  If xchar = "]" And curlbon = False Then
       DatF2(L).Lfend = j
       size = DatF2(L).Lfend - DatF2(L).LfStart + 1
       DatF2(L).fun = Mid(xpara, DatF2(L).LfStart, size)
       L = L + 1
       DatF2(L).LsStart = j + 1
  End If
  If xchar = "}" And curlbon = True Then
      curlbon = False
  End If

Next
DatF2(L).Str = Mid(xpara, DatF2(L).LsStart)
DatF2(L).fun = ""

'create output from parsed string
ypara = ""
For j = 1 To L - 1
  If j = 1 Then
    ypara = DatF2(j).Str & qot & " & " & DatF2(j).fun
  Else
    ypara = ypara & " & " & qot & DatF2(j).Str & qot & " & " & DatF2(j).fun
  End If
Next

ypara = ypara & " & " & qot & DatF2(j).Str
If Len(DatF2(j).fun) > 0 Then
   ypara = ypara & qot & " & " & DatF2(j).fun
End If

xpara = ypara

chkFunction:

'scan for embedded built-in functions
i2 = 0
For j = 1 To Len(xpara)
  If Mid(xpara, j, 1) = "{" Then
    i2 = i2 + 1
  End If
Next

If i2 > 0 Then
  i2 = i2 + 1
  ReDim DatF(1 To i2)
Else
  GoTo Finish
End If

'parse built-in functions
L = 1
For j = 1 To Len(xpara)
  If j = 1 Then
    DatF(L).LsStart = 1
  End If
  If Mid(xpara, j, 1) = "{" Then
    DatF(L).Lsend = j - 1
       size = DatF(L).Lsend - DatF(L).LsStart + 1
       DatF(L).Str = Mid(xpara, DatF(L).LsStart, size)
    DatF(L).LfStart = j + 1
  End If
  If Mid(xpara, j, 1) = "}" Then
    DatF(L).Lfend = j - 1
       size = DatF(L).Lfend - DatF(L).LfStart + 1
       DatF(L).fun = Mid(xpara, DatF(L).LfStart, size)
    L = L + 1
    DatF(L).LsStart = j + 1
  End If
Next
DatF(L).Str = Mid(xpara, DatF(L).LsStart)
DatF(L).fun = ""

'format the paragraph
ypara = ""
For j = 1 To L - 1
  If j = 1 Then
    ypara = DatF(j).Str & qot & " & " & DatF(j).fun
  Else
    ypara = ypara & " & " & qot & DatF(j).Str & qot & " & " & DatF(j).fun
  End If
Next

ypara = ypara & " & " & qot & DatF(j).StrIf
 Len(DatF(j).fun) > 0 Then
   ypara = ypara & qot & " & " & DatF(j).fun
End If

Finish:

'if there is no value for merging then
If i2 = 0 And i = 0 Then
  ypara = yxpara
End If

xpara = "=" & qot & ypara & qot

MailMerge = xpara

MailMerge_Exit:
Exit Function

MailMerge_Err:
MsgBox Err.Description, , "MailMerge()"
MailMerge = ""
Resume MailMerge_Exit
End Function

Public Function strValidate()  
'------------------------------------------------------  
'Author : a.p.r. pillai  
'Date   : 01-10-2007  
'Remarks: Pre-parsing validation check  
'Returned Valule = False, if no errors in Expressions  
'------------------------------------------------------   
Dim xpara, j As Long, xchar As String   
Dim msg As String, flag As  Boolean   
Dim SBopen As Integer, SBCIose As Integer   
Dim CBopen As Integer, CBclose As Integer   
Dim str1 As String, str2 As String

   On Error GoTo strValidate_Err

    xpara = V.text
    xpara = Trim(xpara)

    SBopen = 0: SBCIose = 0
    CBopen = 0: CBclose = 0
    str1 = "missing for built-in Function(s)."
    str2 = "missing for Fieldname(s)."

    For j = 1 To Len(xpara)
        xchar = Mid(xpara, j, 1)
       Select Case xchar
            Case "["
                SBopen = SBopen + 1
            Case "]"
               SBCIose = SBCIose + 1
            Case "{"
                CBopen = CBopen + 1
            Case "}"
                CBclose = CBclose + 1
        End Select
    Next
    msg = ""
    If SBopen = SBCIose Then
       GoTo nextstep
   Else
       If SBopen > SBCIose Then
         msg = "1. Closing ] " & str2
         flag = True
       Else
         msg = "1. Opening [ " & str2
         flag = True
      End If
   End If
nextstep:
    If CBopen = CBclose Then
       GoTo FinalStep
    Else
       If CBopen > CBclose Then
         If flag Then
          msg = msg & vbCr & "2. Closing } " & str1
         Else
           msg = "1. Closing } " & str1
         flag = True
         End If
       Else
        If flag Then
            msg = msg & vbCr & "2. Opening { " & str1
        Else
            msg = "1. Opening { " & str1
           flag = True
         End If
       End If
   End If

FinalStep:
   If flag Then
      msg = "Errors found in field/function definitions." & vbCr & vbCr & msg & vbCr & vbCr & "Program Aborted. " & vbCr & "Correct the errors and re-try."
      MsgBox msg
      V.status = True
    Exit Function
   End If

  V.status = False

strValidate_Exit:
Exit Function

strValidate_Err:
MsgBox Err.Description, , "strValidateQ"
strValidate = True
Resume strValidate_Exit
End Function

If you end up with errors when you Compile/Run the Programs for the first time try linking the essential Library Files to your Project and try again. Visit the Page Command Button Animation for a list of Library Files and for help on linking those files to your Project.

The Validation Program performs a simple validation check on the input data and gives out warnings if something found not in order.

Open the Text editing screen: Letter and try out examples explained above by inserting Field Names, Built-in Functions and Functions that uses Field Values as parameters and click the Preview Command Button to open the Report with merged values and check whether the output is coming correctly as expected.

Even though the program is very simple in its implementation it is very effective within controlled environment, User friendly and will be a powerful Tool in your Projects.

Any suggestions for improvement of the program are welcome.

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MS-Access and Mail Merge-2

Form Letters

A Form Letter can be anything like an Invitation to the Members of a Club or a Notice to the Share Holders of the Company or a Circular to the Head of the Departments of the Organization or a forwarding memo of Departmental Telephone Expenses Statement and so on. In all these cases the body text of the letter will be standard but the addressee information will change on every page of the document.

When we plan for a Form Letter in Microsoft Access we must carefully organize five different elements of this task.

  1. Design a Table and add a single record to hold the main letter contents like Memo Reference, Date, Subject, Body Text and Letter Footer Information like Department Head who will sign the document etc.
  2. Design a Form for the above Table for editing the Letter Body Text, for changing contents as and when it becomes necessary.
  3. Processing of data and designing a sub-report (like a statement on department-wise telephone expenses) if needed to insert into the body of the main letter. If this is not required then this step can be omitted.
  4. To select the required fields for the document contents, join the Address Book Table with the Letter table (created in step-1).
  5. Design the Main Form Letter.

    A sample image of the completed Form Letter, that we are going to prepare, is given below. Take a look at it so that you will have a general idea, as how we are progressing through the steps to create it:

We need two sample tables, Employees and Orders from the Northwind.mdb Database. (Refer my earlier post Saving Data on Forms not in Table for the exact location reference of the sample file). Import the above Tables from Northwind.mdb database.

If you check the above letter the Addressee information is picked from the Employees Table and the statement appearing in the middle is prepared from the Orders Table. In both tables EmployeeID is a common field and used here to link the embedded statement with the EmployeeID of the Employees Table, so that the correct statement related to the Employee will appear in the letter. All other information; Memo Reference, Date, Subject, letter body text and others; are inserted from the Letter Table that I have mentioned above.

  1. Design a Table with the following Field Structure and save it with the name Letter:
  2. Open the Table in datasheet view and enter HRD/ABCD/001 in the FRefNo Field to introduce a record in the Table and close it.
  3. Click on the Letter Table and select Form from Insert Menu and select Design View from the displayed list.
  4. Design the Form like the sample image given below.

    Write a Macro to close the form Letter. Select the Close Button, display the property sheet, change the Name Property to cmdClose and set the macro to the On Click Event of the Close Button. Click on the Preview button, display the Property sheet and change the Name Property to cmdPreview. We will write a small Sub-Routine later for the Preview button. Display the Property Sheet of the Subject Text Box and set the Scroll Bars Property= Vertical. Make the same change for Para1 and Para2 Text Boxes as well. Save the Form with the name Letter.

  5. Letter Image given below with the sample data filled-in:

  6. We will make use of three columns of data, EmployeeID, OrderDate and Freight, from Orders Table to prepare a statement to insert into the Form Letter as shown in the first image above. We will pretend the Freight Value is Sales Figure of each employee and will extract the Year from the OrderDate Field taking it as Sales Year. We need three Queries to prepare a Report Table. Copy and paste the SQL String given below one by one into the SQL Window of new Queries and save it with the Query Names as indicated:
    • Query Name: Yearwise_FreightQ0

      SELECT Orders.EmployeeID,
       Val(Format([OrderDate],"yyyy")) AS [Year],
       Sum(Orders.Freight) AS Sales
      FROM Orders
      GROUP BY Orders.EmployeeID, Val(Format([OrderDate],"yyyy"));
    • Query Name: Yearwise_FreightQ1
      TRANSFORM Sum(Yearwise_FreightQ0.Sales) AS SumOfSales
      SELECT Yearwise_FreightQ0.EmployeeID
      FROM Yearwise_FreightQ0
      GROUP BY Yearwise_FreightQ0.EmployeeID
      PIVOT Yearwise_FreightQ0.Year;
    • Query Name: Yearwise_IncentiveQ
    SELECT YearWise_FreightQ1.* INTO Yearwise_Incentive
    FROM YearWise_FreightQ1;

    NB: You must be careful how you specify the Target Table name for a Make-Table Query and the name of the Query itself. Both should not be same, otherwise you will run into trouble when you run the Query. I have added the letter Q at the end of the Query name Yearwise_IncentiveQ, you can use any name you prefer.

    With the first Query we are selecting the data from Orders Table and creates year-wise summary of Freight Value and changing its name to Sales. Second one is a Crosstab Query which transposes the data, year-wise. Since, we cannot directly use Crosstab Query for Report we are creating a table Yearwise_Incentive with a Make-table query.

  7. After creating and saving the third Query, double-click on it to run and create the output table Yearwise_Incentive (Click OK to warning messages).
  8. Design a Report using the Yearwise_Incentive Table as shown below. The size of the Report is approximately 6.5" wide. Do not use Page Header/Footer Sections of the Report. Put the Field Heading Labels on the Report Header Section. Save the Report with the name Yearwise_Incntv.

  9. We need one more Query to join both Employees Table and the Letter Table that we have created at the beginning. Copy and Paste the following SQL string into the SQL Window of a new Query and save it with the name LetterQ.
    SELECT Letter.*,
     Employees.EmployeeID,
     Employees.TitleOfCourtesy,
     Employees.FirstName,
     Employees.LastName,
     Employees.Title,
     Employees.Address,
     Employees.City,
     Employees.Region,
     Employees.PostalCode,
     Employees.Country
    FROM Employees, Letter;
  10. After saving the Query open it in design view and check how both tables are placed on the Query design surface. Remember, we have created only one record in the Letter Table but there are 9 records in the Employees Table. On the Query design area we have placed both queries without joining them together with a common field and placed fields from both tables on the columns. When you open the Query in Datasheet view you can see the Letter Table's single record is repeating for each record in the Employees table.

    NB: If there are more records in the Letter Table then those records will repeat for each record in the Employees Table, which will result in printing more than one letter for each employee.

  11. Design the Main letter using the LetterQ Query as shown below.

    Look carefully at the image. The Report Header/Footer Sections as well as Page Header/Footer Sections of the Report are not used on the Report; instead the header part of the Memo is designed within the FirstName Header Section. To create the FirstName Header/Footer Sections, Click on the Sorting and Grouping Toolbar Button or select the same option from View Menu. On the Displayed Control select FirstName in the Field/Expression Column and in the Group Properties below select Yes in the Group Header and Group Footer properties. When the FirstName Header Section appears, point the mouse over the Detail Section horizontal bar to change the mouse into a cross, click and drag the detail section down to get enough space to design our Letter header Section.

    The design is complete when we finish the following the few more steps:

    • Insert Yearwise_incntv statement that we have designed earlier between Para1 and Para2 above and link the statement with the EmployeeID field that we have placed separately at the FirstName Header Section. To insert the Yearwise_incntv statement into the main report move the main report to the right of the Database Window and position it side-by-side (click on the Report Tab, if it is not visible) click and drag the statement and place it between Para1 and Para2 and properly place it as shown above. Re-size the report width, if it got expanded to the right.
    • Click on the Yearwise_incntv statement, display the Property sheet and insert EmployeeID in Link Child Field and Link Master Field properties.
    • Display the property sheet of the EmployeeID control in the Header section and set its Visible Property = False.
    • Display the Property Sheet of the Subject control and set the Can Grow, Can Shrink properties to Yes.
    • Change the Can Grow, Can Shrink properties of Para1 and Para2 also to Yes.
    • Click on the FirstName Footer, display the property sheet and change the Force New Page property value to After Section.
    • Save the Report with the name Letter.
  12. Open the Report in Print Preview, advance the Pages by clicking on the Page Control at the bottom. Check whether the Employee's name appearing at the Address section at the top, changes on each page and the name appearing in the statement in the middle of the paragraphs is also same as above. Close the Report.
  13. Open the Letter Form in design view.
  14. Click on the Preview button and display the Property Sheet. Select [Event Procedure] on the On Click Event property and write the following code in the Form Module and save the Report:
    Private Sub cmdPreview_Click()
       Me.Refresh
       DoCmd.OpenReport "Letter", acViewPreview
    End Sub
  15. Open the Letter Form in normal view. Make some changes in the body text. Click on the Preview button. The changes that you have made in the text should reflect in the previewed letter also.

Your Report display should match with the sample image given at the top of this page.

With this article we have set the stage for Merging of Data Field Values and Built-in Functions into the body text of the Letter and Print it, which we will try next.

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MS-Access and Mail Merge

Address Labels

When we talk about Address Labels, Form Letters, Mail Merge and so on, the name that comes into our mind is MS-Word, loaded with plenty of functions for the above tasks. It needs a database to provide source data for address labels, Form Letters etc. We can prepare a Table in Word Document and use it for Addresses or attach one from Microsoft Access or other database sources.

Here, we are not going to use MS-Word for Address Labels, Form Letters and Mail Merge operations, we will do it in MS-Access. Yes, we will try Mail Merge too.

We may not be able to do fancy paragraph formatting as we do in Word but preparing Form Letters in Access is important in situations like reporting of Agency Agreement Renewals, Bank Guarantee Renewal Reminders or Department-wise Monthly Stationery Expenses or Telephone Expenses for review etc. and needs only one or two standard paragraphs combined with the actual statement, which we can quickly put on the print within no time.

We will start with the simple task, Address Labels. MS-Access has a built-in Label Wizard, which we can use for quick designing of Address Labels of various sizes and shapes. MS-Access has plenty of predefined Label Sizes of different Manufacturers to select. This is good when hundreds or thousands of labels are needed on continuous stationery of predefined sizes.

But, ordinary people like me who would like to print on plain paper, cut and paste on envelopes can try the manual method.

A sample image of the output created from a manually designed Address Label is shown below and we will go through the procedure that needs to prepare them:

  1. Import the Employees Table from Northwind.mdb sample database, if you have not done so far for our earlier sessions. Refer my earlier post Saving Data on Forms not in Table for the exact location reference of the sample file.
  2. Select the Employees Table and select Report from Insert Menu and select Design View.
  3. Go to View menu and remove the check mark from Page Header / Footer and Report Header / Footer options to remove them from the report design, if they are visible.
  4. Draw a Text Box approximately 3.25"' wide at the top and left area of the Detail Section leaving enough space for border as shown in the design given below:
  5. Display the Property Sheet of the Text Box from View menu and set the Special Effect Property = Chiseled. If you don"t like the underlined design, stay with the Flat property setting.
  6. Write the expression as shown above in the Control Source Property. The partially visible field is [LastName]); don"t forget the closing brackets.
  7. Copy the same Text Box and Paste it four times down and write the expression as shown above.
  8. Select all the five Text Boxes together. Select Vertical Spacing - - > Decrease from Format Menu. Repeat the process till all the Text Boxes comes close together.
  9. Draw a Rectangle around the Text Boxes. If the Rectangle hides the Text Boxes then select Transparent from the Fill/Back Color Tool Bar Button. When the Label is cut from plain paper the Border will give the label a proper shape even if the cutting is not.
  10. Now, we must go for the final settings on Page Setup Control. Select Page Setup from File Menu.
  11. Select the Columns Tab.
  12. Change Number of Columns to 2.
  13. Column Spacing change to 0.15"
  14. In Column Size control put check mark in Same as Detail, if it is not already there.
  15. Column Layout: Across, then Down.
  16. Click OK and save the Report with the Name: AddressLabels.
  17. Open the Report in Print Preview, it should look like the sample given at the top of this Page.

Next we will look into setting up and Printing Form Letters.

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