Splash Screens

By Jennifer Neighbors, Senior Consultant

If you’ve spent considerable time creating an attractive and powerful database for your business or organization, think about adding a splash screen to welcome your users. Not only can it make a striking visual statement about the database’s subject, but also it can serve as a “Main Menu” to direct users where to go within the database. It can even serve as the navigational home base for your project.

Users, especially new users, can become confused about where to go and what they will find when they select one of the many tables they see on the menu. Simplify by creating a splash screen that offers a few clearly defined choices. Here’s how to get started:

In a table where you store images and information that will be used throughout your database, insert an image of your logo using an image field and name it “Logo”. In my sample database this hidden table is named Utilities. Next, create another image field and name it “Blank”. Don’t store anything in the field. If you have any navigation icons, create an image type of field for each and store the images there, naming them appropriately.

Now create a new table named “Splash screen”, “Gateway”, “Main Menu”, or something similar. Place a tab element on the form and give it a color that would make a light background on your form and that will look nice with the colors in your logo. Use the insert formula tool to make your first screen object. The formula should be:

					select Utilities.Blank				

Size this field to create a blank space on your form in the upper left corner. Name the field “Blank 1” and hide the field label. You may wonder why we aren’t using spaces to organize the screen. It’s because when spaces are placed next to image fields, the image field is always granted the left-most place. And when formulas contain image fields, they act like them in this way. Formula fields that show images can be placed anywhere, even to the left of another image.

Next, insert another formula field. The formula should be:

					select Utilities.Logo				

This second object will appear next to the blank space. Name it “Logo” and hide the field label. Finally, create a third formula that contains a blank image and name it “Blank 2”. Hide its field label as well. Adjust all your screen objects so that a pleasing appearance is created. The logo art can be in the middle of the page or more to the right or left depending on what you think looks good. If you kept your artwork in the middle of the page, your splash screen should look something like this:

The next step is to open each of the three formula fields on the form and set their background colors to exactly match the color you used for the background of the entire page when you placed the Tab element on the page. Take a look at your splash page. What else would you like to add?

In the illustration above, I’ve inserted a copyright notice and database version number. This, too, is a formula field but in this instance, I’ve simply used text surrounded by double quotation marks as the formula and then styled the result using the field’s “Style” property.

Let’s assume at this point that this is all you want to do with this splash page. That is, you want to display it for a moment and then take the user inside the database to some other form for data entry or information analysis. How would you do that? Simply enter some code like this in the database’s Trigger After Open function in the database Options screen. (There are a few variations of this code that would also work well.)

					openFullscreen(record('Splash Screen',1));
do as server
openTable("Sales", "Sales Dashboard")

This code opens the splash screen in full screen mode, keeps it open for a brief moment and then opens the Sales Dashboard. You now have a nice splash screen.

What if you want to take things further and add navigation? In the illustration below, I have added a navigation icon to the form. My navigation icon in the Utilities table is named “Exit”. Again, this image is a formula field, and the formula is:

					select Utilties.Exit				

Because formula fields have “On Click” functions, they execute code when the user clicks them, making them ideal for use as navigation icons. Here is the same splash screen with a single navigation icon:

When using navigation icons on your splash screen, edit the “Trigger After Open” code to include only the lines you need to take the user to the splash screen. Then, insert icons that open forms which are key elements of the program, making your splash screen function as a simplifying and streamlining “Main Menu”.

I hope this guide will get you started making professional looking splash screens for your databases. Your users may especially appreciate their good looks when you add navigation.