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Search-as-You-Type in a Microsoft Access Form

Search-as-You-Type has become a pervasive feature of any modern user interface.  As you begin entering characters, Google now instantly returns search results.  As you type, Bing will begin predicting what you are searching for in the search box.  Access even helps with this when you type into a dropdown box by navigating to the row that begins with the characters you are entering.  Good Access form design includes keeping up with modern UI conventions.  This page and Access sample download can help you add search-as-you-type capability to your own Access forms.

Searching Access List Boxes

msaccess search as you type
The first area where you can implement search-as-you-type is the Access listbox control.  Listboxes are commonly used when you want to give users a more extensive visual representation of a list.  It requires more space than a combobox, but it also helps users see a partial list without any action to pull down the list.  Listboxes don't have the same nice search-as-you-type you find in a combobox where the cursor is relocated as you type in the box.  You can accomplish it with a few lines of VB code in your forms and a module we have created that you can import to your own project.

1 Download the sample Access database.
2  Import the module "modSearch" into your own database.
3 Add a new textbox above your listbox.  We'll call this the search box.  Make the Default Value property:
"(type to search)"
4 Add a textbox to the right of the search box.  Make the control source  ="x" We'll call this the clear button.
5 Add a label you want to display the count of rows displayed in the list box.  We'll call this the count box.
6 Add this line to the top of your form's VB below the "Option" statements:
Private blnSpace As Boolean
7 Create a new event for your search box for the Key Press event.  Note that our search box is called "txtSearch." Change any occurrences to your own search box control name.
Private Sub txtSearch_KeyPress(KeyAscii As Integer)
'NECESSARY TO IDENTIFY IF THE USER IS HITTING THE SPACEBAR
'IN WHICH CASE WE WANT TO IGNORE THE INPUT

10 On Error GoTo err_handle

20 If KeyAscii = 32 Then
30 blnSpace = True
40 Else
50 blnSpace = False
60 End If


70 Exit Sub
err_handle:
80 Select Case Err.Number
Case Else
90 MsgBox "An unexpected error has occurred: " & vbCrLf & Err.Description & _
vbCrLf & "Error " & Err.Number & "(" & Erl & ")"
100 End Select
End Sub
8 Create a new event for your clear button for the Click event.  Note that our clear button is called "btnClearFilter." Change any occurrences to your own control name.
Private Sub btnClearFilter_Click()
'CODE FOR THE RED "X" BUTTON TO CLEAR THE FILTER AND SHOW ALL
On Error Resume Next
   10 Me.txtSearch.Value = ""
   20 txtSearch_Change
End Sub
9 Create events for your search box GotFocus and LostFocus events.  These will control when the user enters or leaves the box what is displayed.
Private Sub txtSearch_GotFocus()
' USED TO REMOVE THE PROMPT IF THE CONTROL GETS FOCUS
10 On Error Resume Next
20 If Me.txtSearch.Value = "(type to search)" Then
30 Me.txtSearch.Value = ""
40 End If
End Sub

Private Sub txtSearch_LostFocus()
' USED TO ADD THE PROMPT BACK IN IF THE CONTROL LOSES FOCUS
10 On Error Resume Next
20 If Me.txtSearch.Value = "" Then
30 Me.txtSearch.Value = "(type to search)"
40 End If

End Sub
10 Create a new event for your search box for the Change event. This is the event that really drives the search.
Private Sub txtSearch_Change()
'CODE THAT HANDLES WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE USER TYPES IN THE SEARCH BOX
Dim strFullList As String
Dim strFilteredList As String


10 If blnSpace = False Then
20 Me.Refresh 'refresh to make sure the text box changes are actually available to use

'specify the default/full rowsource for the control
30 strFullList = "SELECT RecordID, First, Last FROM tblNames ORDER BY First;"

'specify the way you want the rowsource to be filtered based on the user's entry
40 strFilteredList = "SELECT RecordID, First, Last FROM tblNames WHERE [First] LIKE ""*" & Me.txtSearch.Value & _
"*"" OR [Last] LIKE ""*" & Me.txtSearch.Value & "*"" ORDER BY [First]"

'run the search
50 fLiveSearch Me.txtSearch, Me.lstItems, strFullList, strFilteredList, Me.txtCount
60 End If

End Sub

In the above, the key changes are lines 30 and 40. You should set the yellow text in line 30 to represent the full listbox rowsource. You should set line 40 to be the filtered rowsource after the user enters in their search text. For line 50, replace the highlighted yellow items with your control names.  The parameters for the function fLiveSearch(), part of the module "modSearch" you imported, are listed here:
Function fLiveSearch(ctlSearchBox As TextBox, ctlFilter As Control, _
strFullSQL As String, strFilteredSQL As String, Optional ctlCountLabel As Control)
'==================================================================================
' THIS FUNCTION ALLOWS YOU TO FILTER A COMBO BOX OR LIST BOX AS THE USER TYPES
' ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS PASS IN THE CONTROL REFERENCE TO THE SEARCH BOX ON YOUR
' FORM, THE LISTBOX/COMBO BOX YOU WANT TO FILTER, AND WHAT THE FULL AND FILTERED
' SQL (ROWSOURCE) SHOULD BE.
'
' ctlSearchBox THE TEXTBOX THE USER TYPES IN TO SEARCH
'
' ctlFilter THE LISTBOX OR COMBOBOX ON THE FORM YOU WANT TO FILTER
'
' strFullSQL THE FULL ROWSOURCE YOU WANT TO DISPLAY AS A DEFAULT IF NO
' RESULTS ARE RETURNED
'
' strFilteredSQL THE FILTERED ROWSOURCE FOR THE LISTBOX/COMBOBOX; FOR EXAMPLE
' YOU WOULD WANT TO USE '...like ""*" & me.txtsearch.value & "*"""
' TO FILTER THE RESULTS BASED ON THE USER'S SEARCH INPUT
'
' ctlCountLabel (OPTIONAL) THE LABEL ON YOUR FORM WHERE YOU WANT TO DISPLAY THE
' COUNT OF ROWS DISPLAYED IN THE LISTBOX/COMBOBOX AS THEY SEARCH
'=====================================================================================
11 Test it out!  If you run into any issues, most commonly it will be with step 10.  Just make sure you've updated all the highlighted yellow areas.
You can also apply this same technique to a form instead of just a listbox with some minor tweaks.  All you would need to change is the function fLiveSearch to change references from RowSource to RecordSource, and ListCount with RecordSetClone.RecordCount.

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