It’s been a few years since Access has received a major feature set update. For the 2019 version, there are a number of items worth taking a look at.
Visualize your data with new charts
Choose from 11 new charts and make it easier to understand the data stored in forms and reports. Match fields to chart dimensions and preview your changes instantly.
Large Number (bigint) support
The Large Number data type stores a non-monetary, numeric value and is compatible with the SQL_BIGINT data type in ODBC. This data type efficiently calculates large numbers.
You can add Large Number as a field to an Access table. You can also link to or import from databases with a corresponding data type, such as the SQL Server bigint data type.
Support for dBASE is back
Microsoft has re-introduced dBASE file support (.dbf) in Access. You can once again import or link to data stored in dBASE files in Access as well as export data to dBASE files.
Property Sheet sorting
Having trouble finding the specific property you want on the Property Sheet among the dozens of properties available? Sorting on the Property Sheet for forms and reports is here! It’s never been easier to find a specific property on the Property Sheet. Forms and reports contain dozens of properties spread among several tabs which sometimes means it’s hard to find the one you want. If you know the specific name of the property you want, sorting the list makes it easier to find.
Open the Property Sheet when you’re in design mode for forms and reports and you’ll see a sort toggle button in the upper right corner. The default setting, unsorted, lists the properties in the original order you’re used to seeing in Access.
Click Sort and Access sorts the list of properties alphabetically.
New Label Name property for controls
Microsoft has added a new property to controls called Label Name so you can associate a label control with another control. Previously, you had to “cut” a label control and then “paste” it on another control to associate it. Now with the new Label Name property, you can easily type in the name of a label control to associate it.
Associating a label name with a control promotes accessibility because assistive technologies can now detect and indicate the association.
ODBC connection retry logic
When Access loses the ODBC connection to an external data source, users have to close and re-open their Access databases in order to continue working with objects that use data from those external data sources. Access doesn’t attempt to re-establish the dropped connection even if the connection is valid again and there is nothing that users can do to make Access try and reconnect to the external data source.
Microsoft has improved this experience so that now if Access loses the ODBC connection to an external data source, Access tries to reconnect to the data source automatically. In this scenario, you’ll now see the following experience:
- If Access loses the ODBC connection to an external data source you’re trying to use, you’ll see an error message describing the failure.
- Access now attempts to reconnect to the data source automatically when performing operations that require a connection to an external data source. If the retry is successful, you can continue working with the data and database objects without having to close and re-open Access.
- If the retry fails, you won’t be able to work with objects that use the dropped external data sources but you can continue working with other areas of your database that aren’t dependent upon the unreachable data sources.
- If you attempt to use data or other objects again that rely on the external data connections, Access tries again to reconnect to the external data source.
Microsoft is continuing efforts to improve the accessibility of Access for all customers. In Access 2019, you’ll see many new improvements across the Access landscape.
Here are some improvements you’ll see when using Windows Narrator and other assistive technology:
- The state of Lookup fields and combo boxes (whether collapsed or expanded) can now be recognized and read.
- The entire Lookup or combo box row when there are multiple columns can now be recognized and read.
- An options group name along with the state of an option (whether selected or cleared) in a dialog box can now be recognized and read.
- The filter menu arrow icon for a datasheet column can now be recognized and read.
- In the Windows Narrator scan mode, you can now press Left Arrow or Right Arrow to navigate to a radio button, and press Space or Enter to toggle it.
- Narrator and other assistive technology can now hear more control elements being called out when they use attachments, tab controls, and check box controls in forms, reports, and datasheets.
- Narrator and other assistive technology now have an easier time reading out the column names displayed in table, query, and form datasheets.
- Improved narration and other assistive technology when a control in a form section receives focus.
Here are some improvements you’ll see when using Windows high contrast mode:
- The filter button in the record navigation bar at the bottom of a form or datasheet is now visible.
- The Saved Importstab in the Manage Data Tasks dialog box display correctly and are now visible when you edit text.
- Forms and reports displayed in High Contrast mode such as datasheet column headers, themed command button controls, and focus cell text color in datasheets.
Other accessibility improvements in Access
- To create a table, you can now press Alt+H. To open the filter menu of a table column, you can now press Q. To open the Find and Replace dialog box, you can now press FD.
- Using F6 and Shift+F6 keyboard shortcuts now cycles through all sections in popup forms.
Editing a new value list item is easier
Microsoft introduced a new keyboard shortcut that makes it easier to open the Edit List Items dialog box when working with value list combo boxes on your Access forms.
If your combo box uses a value list as its data source and you’ve set the Allow Value List Edits property to Yes, you can use this new keyboard shortcut. When you have focus on the combo box in Form view, press Ctrl+E to open the Edit List Items dialog box.
Objects in design windows easier to resize
Resizing table objects in the Query Design and Relationship windows can be difficult. Microsoft has made the clickable area of the borders easier for your mouse to grab. You’ll now have an easier time grabbing and resizing the border of the tables with your mouse within these windows.
Grabbing and moving popup forms using your mouse was difficult. Similarly, Microsoft made the clickable area of the borders easier for your mouse to grab in these scenarios. You’ll now have an easier time grabbing and resizing the border of the tables with your mouse and moving popup forms.
Navigation Pane scrolling improvements
Scrolling through the list of objects in the Navigation Pane in high DPI display mode resulted in unexpected behavior. Microsoft improved this area now which means you shouldn’t see scrolling “bumps” when using the Navigation Pane in higher DPI display modes.