SharePoint 2010 and InfoPath forms
Here are some basic facts about InfoPath. InfoPath is a versatile data-collection tool designed to make the creation of forms within SharePoint extremely easy, efficient, and connected to out-of-the-box or custom workflows.
InfoPath 2010 is available with Office Professional Plus 2010
You can use InfoPath 2010 to customize list forms on SharePoint. Here is an example how to do this How to start customize list form (New/Edit/View) using InfoPath Designer 2010.
More interesting is how we can use InfoPath in business solutions and workflows. Here are a few examples of the types of business solutions and applications that use InfoPath forms:
- Form-driven applications start with a form that is used to gather data and add in other SharePoint functionality to process and report on the data including workflows, reporting, custom Web Pages, and external lists. Examples include a help desk Web site, a procurement center, or an employee hiring center for a human resources department.
- Document workflow applications automate document-based business processes. Adding InfoPath forms to workflows lets you gather information from the users at predefined times in the life of the workflow and let users interact with the tasks for that workflow. Examples include contract approval, technical specification review, or processing for legal documents.
- Business data applications start with data in an external system that is made available in SharePoint Server through Business Connectivity Services. Data in the external systems is accessible in SharePoint Server through external lists and can be added, viewed, updated, and deleted by using InfoPath forms. Examples include customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning.
- Ad hoc business processes can be managed by using SharePoint lists. The forms used for creating, reading, and updating items in these lists can be customized by using InfoPath 2010. Examples include simple issue tracking or tasks lists.
- Document information panels use InfoPath forms to display document metadata within the Microsoft Office system client application.
InfoPath consists of the following main components:
- InfoPath 2010 is the Office system client application that has the following two modes:
- Microsoft InfoPath Designer 2010 is used to create form templates. Form templates define the data structure, appearance, and behavior of a form. After the design process has been completed, form designers publish the form template to SharePoint Server so that users can start filling out forms based on that template.
- Microsoft InfoPath Filler 2010 is used to fill out forms that are based on form templates created in InfoPath Designer.
- InfoPath Forms Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 enables forms to be rendered in the Web browser. It is available as an Enterprise feature of SharePoint Server 2010. Farm administrators configure settings for InfoPath Forms Services on the SharePoint Central Administration Web site.
There are two main form-filling environments, the Web browser and InfoPath Filler. Any form can be filled out in InfoPath Filler. Only browser-enabled forms can be filled out in a Web browser. SharePoint list forms can be filled out offline by using SharePoint Workspace. Form library forms can be filled out offline by using InfoPath Filler.
SharePoint list form templates cannot contain managed code or repeating or nested data. If the overall solution requires managed code or complex data structures in forms, you must use a form library. Form designers can add managed code to their forms by using Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA). VSTA is an optional installation component available in Setup for InfoPath 2010.
A form library is a SharePoint document library that uses an InfoPath form as its default content type. Forms that are filled out by users are stored as XML files in the library. Form library forms should be used if your solution requires any of the following features:
- Repeating or nested data
- Digital signatures
- Managed code
- Form data stored as XML
Form designers publish form templates by using InfoPath Designer.
Here is a nice description, how to design the InfoPath form and how to use it with the workflow: InfoPath 2010 with SharePoint 2010: A Walkthrough.
Here are some other useful links on InfoPath:
- Microsoft InfoPath 2010
- InfoPath – creating basic form
- InfoPath 2010 Lesson 2 – How SharePoint and InfoPath Work Together
- Building SharePoint Applications with InfoPath 2010 (Part 1 of 2)
- InfoPath 2010 with SharePoint 2010: A Walkthrough.
- Building SharePoint Applications with InfoPath 2010, Part 1 (msdn.microsoft.com)