The philosophy of many technical folks that I talk to is “Lock it down and save the user from themselves”. While this may seem great from a helpdesk or risk perspective, in reality it means that your users will have to ask you to make the change everytime, or even worse – they don’t use the system at all. There is a lot of information written on how to disable sharepoint designer and the like, which may be useful for fairly restricted Web Content management sites, using this on a collaboration site seems a little heavy handed.It is one thing to have a recommended template, but another to make sure every site is the same boring layout with no room for differentiation. A good SharePoint philosophy will maintain some standard sites, provide some good starting points, but also allow high performing teams to customise their collaboration tools to meet their requirements (without having to call IT).
Your users don’t call the helpdesk when they want to change a font in Word – make sure you are managing the infrastructure, not playing the role of the Content Police.
So, assuming that you are one of those civilised, modern, sensible (and probably ruggedly handsome) IT guys, or you are lucky enough to work somewhere that employs them, you can start to have some fun with InfoPath and SharePoint.
While InfoPath is traditionally used for forms that are a little more complicated than this, you will be happy to know that it can scale down to a 1 field form as well. I have made this form multiline and added a button that will submit to a SharePoint forms library as well as change the view to display a “thanks for your submission” message. When publishing the form, we can also promote that lonely field into a list column.
Then, I show a webpart with a customised view, showing the field and some of the metadata that SharePoint will capture automatically. I have called my shameless twitter clone SharePoint Social Networking Innovation Crikey, a common Australian expression of amazement.
Finally, I use that veritable workhorse of the gluecoder – the <iframe> to display that form in a Content Editor Webpart on my collaboration page.
If I was doing this properly, I could use the XMLFormView ASP.Net control to frame in the infopath form properly. However, with a form this complicated it wouldn’t really be worthwhile – and probably quicker to hardcode it in ASP.Net proper.