do you think my initial idea was a good one?
Indeed I do!
If I re-state the obvious in the following, please pardon me. But the obvious is often forgotten and IMO deserves restatement ad naseum
After turning pages, perusing your book in the viewer at that link (assuming here that the page-turning viewer itself is not part of your project) I can say unequivocally: yes you can use Access to reproduce the book as either an interactive user interface for a person to take the exam with, or as a published document (that is, on paper), or any other output you conceive. The beauty of Access is that it is ONE tool that can do all of what you need
, efficiently.But understanding what you need is crucial.
If I input all the elements of the book into Access: questions, answers, solutions, diagrams...as tables and all that, can I then create a report which would look like the sample that is shown on our website?
The design, implementation, and distribution of the book
is a relatively trivial task. Step back a bit from the presentation
of the book itself (though obviously that is your end-product) and observe that the book (design/layout, publishing channel, what-have-you) is not the real asset, but only derivative from the real asset.
Instead, as you apparently already understand, the book (however it is distributed: print or electronic) is actually just one view (of many possible views) into a "sea" of data. That data is the texts, the rules, the diagrams, the organization, the answers, the formatting, etc. This data is your asset, not the printed book.
All processes and systems associated with collecting, maintaining, and expressing this mass of data are costs. Your goal should be to minimize these costs while at the same time leveraging the asset (the question data) into future opportunities.
What you need are routine tools and processes for collecting, managing, editing, connecting, presenting this data. Address these tasks first
, then you can slice and dice the data into a book (or books), as a website, as executable tests, as anything your little heart desires.
An application (or applications) for managing the data behind your book (oh and incidentally, preparing the book itself
) sounds like a fun, straight-forward, Access project. Access supports solutions that could run on a single disconnected workstation of minimal spec, to a full-blown groupware environment with shared data on a server... or both at the same time. No other tools or expertise (beyond Access and VBA) needed. Very cost effective and, might I add, future-proof, because you can always migrate the data, process, and gui to some other system, either all at once, or piece-meal.A caveat is that such applications and data structures need to be properly designed to work as effectively as I describe.
But that is a requirement of any
solution environment, not just Access. The systematic structures of data and tasks are independent of the tools you use to instance a solution.
Who is your user?