on 20 December 2007
An excellently written book with very user friendly practice files that walk you through creating forms, reports and some query functions.
However, once read I was still left with questions that I hoped the book would answer. How do you format a ribbon? Only 3 query types are covered and not enough attention is given to reports and forms.
For me, brushing up on access skills after 7 years, it got me back into Access but where is the sequel to finish the course?
I Had high hopes for this book but am disappointed.
This Step-by-Step guide sets itself a pretty daunting task - to reduce something with the complexity of Microsoft Access 2007 and provide a practical, hands-on and informative introduction for a beginner. Under the circumstances it gets most of this right, with a few frustrations along the way. In 10 well-sized chapters Joan Lambert covers most of the basics that an Access novice will need to be able to get a good understanding of this product, doing so with plenty of examples that are always pretty clear. To put that into context, I've used it as a primer for Access 2013 and managed just fine, largely due to the clarity of examples given. However, there are a few issues, chief of these being related to the otherwise excellent examples.
The tutorials embedded in this book are of the "go-here-and-click-this" variety. If you do decide to work your way through the book, you will find yourself lapsing into a robotic execution of these steps, unable to appreciate what is happening because of the complete lack of useful descriptions as to why a particular click is useful, or what the options are. This is a hard challenge to make of the book, because, of course, it's intended as an introduction to the beginner, but even with the material presented, there is a complete and utter lack of *why* being explained. The author will tell you that Access has a feature, then guide you through a point-and-click demonstration that you can follow, but in almost every case fails to provide the context to help you adapt or extend what is provided.
If you're familiar with databases and just need a primer for Access 2007, this should not be a hardship, but there is the risk that someone looking for a good introduction will come away wishing for more.
1. Nice style, well written, with logically sequenced chapters and good selection of content
2. Functional examples [I found just one error]
3. A few useful tips and insights to some of the less obvious aspects of Access
1. Very poor explanatory notes covering the examples, to the point that you may be inclined to try each experiment multiple times, exploring different options for yourself, hoping for the best...
2. For a beginner's guide, a couple of missing items for me would include, for example, the value of "backing up" data. Yes, this is beyond the scope of "Access basics", but as a beginner's guide this should hopefully think about getting the basics right, and that was missing.
3. Pointers to extensions - it would have been nice, in places where additional options and capavbilities existed, to have pointed them out rather than simply ignoring them completely... For example, in a section concerning queries, the author mentions that it is possible with Access to write them directly using the Access version of SQL - Structured Query Language. This is one of the very few examples of the author pointing out extensions for the reader to research should they want to.
Sum-up: a very competent "basics" book, that could have earned 4 Stars if it had come with better and more descriptive explanations of the examples, and 5 Stars if it had put a little more effort into pointing out "further reading" areas to help the reader be aware that Access does in fact have far more capability than even a book as thorough as this could hope to cover. ~300 pages of good, solid introduction.
on 12 March 2015
I was looking to become well-versed in the basics in Access having used Word and Excel extensively for many years. Although I didn't quite manage that with this book, I'd say it serves a purpose and may well be a top choice for some.
The bulk of the content is comprised by button-by-button instructions for the reader to perform a range of basic tasks, using the files on the companion CD (which are also downloadable). It's well written, structured and presented, and you can read it front to back or dip in as you please. If you're new to Access you'll probably find this book a worthwhile purchase. Not only is it an ideal means to familiarize yourself with the program, you quickly learn a considerable deal from scratch which you can put to use right away.
That said, while it imparts a set of essential skills, don't expect to leave with a working knowledge. In spite of precious introductions, tips and sidebars, this book is more of an instruction manual than a comprehensive course. It's too thin on the theory side for my liking and a simple expansion to cover more of the program's tools and features could have been easily implemented - it's rather abbreviated. (For a comprehensive but heftier beginner's reference take a look at "Access 2007: The Missing Manual".)
On balance, this book doesn't cater for everyone but some will find plenty to praise. Just getting to grips with Access can be a daunting task and the hands-on approach certainly works well enough here to enable the newcomer to yield practical results as quickly and easily as possible. Somewhat unambitious in scope but solid as far as it goes - ideal if you want to get cracking with minimal fuss.
(I could be totally in the dark here but I haven't heard of any major differences between Access 2007 and the latest 2013 version so I would hazard a guess that this book should suffice for those with later versions. Just food for thought.)