It's Friday, and on Fridays I usually try to dig up a cool article or two from the community
1) Patrick Tisseghem wrote a beautiful walkthrough on making browser forms show up in a web part - no code required, just follow the screenshots.
2) S.Y.M. Wong-A-Ton published a very detailed paper on saving InfoPath forms to a SQL Server 2005 XML column. This is a very cool integration scenario that enables powerful data analysis using XQuery, and even crazy things like joins between your XML form data and LOB data stored in a relational system. Be sure to check it out!
Alex WeinsteinProgram Manager
There's been lots of well-deserved hype lately around Web 2.0 and the technology that's fueling it, AJAX. We're receiving lots of questions such as "do InfoPath browser forms support AJAX?". The answer is more complex than just yes :-); this article aims to clarify any ambiguities here. But first, some definitions.
What is AJAX?
What is a postback?
After a page has been loaded, a postback is defined as a subsequent browser request to the web server. Ajax is about asynchronous postbacks - those that allow the user to continue working with the page while the refresh happens.
Does InfoPath Forms Services use AJAX?
Such client-side operations work for actions such as inserting and deleting sections or table rows, conditional visibility or formatting, validation errors, calculations, firing rules to modify data, etc.
Cases where postback will occur have one thing in common: there's something that absolutely cannot be evaluated on the client, and thus has to be sent to the server for evaluation. For example:
- there is managed code in the form which needs to run (e.g. AfterChange event)
- there are complex XPath expressions used for a calculation, condition for a rule etc
When postback does need to happen it generally uses an XMLHTTP postback out-of-band; it does not involve a full page postback. The HTML can therefore be incrementally updated.
How can I tell when the postbacks will happen?
We'll only touch on this subject very briefly - expect more content on this soon. InfoPath Design Checker, in conjunction with InfoPath Forms Services, will provide you insights on the user actions that will cause a postback. It will also provide suggestions as to how to avoid these postbacks. Here's how to see these suggestions:
1. Make sure that your form template is browser-enabled by going to Tools | Form Options | Compatibility, and checking "Design a form template that can be opened in a browser or in InfoPath".
2. In the same dialog, provide a URL to a server running InfoPath Forms Services:
3. At the bottom of the Design Checker task pane, click Options, then check the "Show Browser Optimization Messages" checkbox:
4. Observe the postback optimization messages in the design checker task pane:
We'll follow-up with a separate article on ways to interpret these messages, and tips and tricks around improving form postback experience.
AJAX and forms hosted in a custom ASPX page
You can create custom ASPX pages hosting the InfoPath form control (XmlFormView; more on it here). Everything within the form still uses the above AJAX architecture. But if you need code-behind the page to communicate between the InfoPath form and other ASP.NET controls in the page, then those events will trigger a full-page postback.
Office Forms Services and ASP.NET AJAX framework
In MOSS 2007, we don't offer integration with the ASP.NET AJAX framework (also known as Atlas) to allow for partial postbacks involving communication with other ASP.NET controls in the page. Another thing to note is that InfoPath XmlFormView control will not work inside an ASP.NET AJAX UpdatePanel. At this point, there is no workaround to make it work. Integration with the ASP.NET AJAX is a frequent customer request; we're carefully considering it for future releases.
Making my Technorati rounds searching for InfoPath community content, I came across two very cool articles:
1) InfoPath 2007, Forms Server, MOSS 2007 by Sahil Malik: start from a Word form, publish it to be filled out in the browser, play with the content type and configure the document library. Fun read, and lots of screenshots.
2) InfoPath Forms for Mobile Web Browsers by David Gerhardt: good starting point if you're exploring your way around the mobile forms arena. (UPDATE: Fixed link)
I found two more cool InfoPath resources.
Shoutout to Christopher White, who has a couple code-intensive InfoPath-SharePoint articles in his blog. Particularly interesting:
1) Walkthrough on setting up a pretty complex workflow using InfoPath and Office Server 2007.
2) Post on manipulating file attachments in С#.
Kudos to S.Y.M. Wong-A-Ton, who wrote a number of walkthroughs, mainly for the InfoPath client. Highlight: article on using custom XSLT with secondary data sources.
I've been on a hunt for cool InfoPath-related blogs; well, I just found a gem. Shoutout to Liam Cleary whose blog talks about SharePoint, VSTO, Groove, and, of course, lots and lots of InfoPath. I loved all the screenshots and detailed walkthroughs. Some highlights:
1) Article on Word import - a walkthrough of a new feature in InfoPath 2007 that allows converting Word documents into InfoPath form templates.
2) Very interesting article on picking the right technology for your project: Word + VSTO or InfoPath.
In InfoPath 2003, forms were equipped to merge in a simple manner: repeating sections and tables would merge to form one, as would the contents of lists or rich text controls. The remainder of the form was not merged. This functionality proved useful for many scenarios, but there was much more that could be done. Unfortunately, the only way to do it was to write your own merge XSL. So, in InfoPath 2007, we’ve enabled options that allow you to customize a form’s merging behavior.
Merge settings are now available in most fields’ and controls’ Properties dialogs. For fields, you’ll find Merge Settings under the Rules and Merge tab. For controls, under the Advanced tab. The available options will differ based on the settings that are available for each type of field. Here’s an example of options available for repeating fields and groups:
Notice that you can select the order of the merged items as well as whether to combine entries based on a matching value.
Merge settings for rich text fields vary somewhat from the repeating group ones shown above:
One of the most useful options is being able to prefix each merged item with some value. For example, if you’re merging status reports from different members of your team, you may want to prefix each entry with the name of the person submitting the report. This’ll ensure that you can keep track of who said what. You can even add fancy formatting for your visual pleasure.
Changes to the OM
In the new InfoPath OM, you will see some changes with regards to merging: there is now only one merge event, called – surprise, surprise – Merge. In InfoPath 2003, there were two events: OnMergeRequest and OnAfterImport. The new Merge event has taken the place of the old OnMergeRequest event. We have chosen to deprecate OnAfterImport because there’s no real need for it: InfoPath code executes sequentially, so any code that would have been included in the OnAfterImport event can be placed directly after the XmlForm.Merge() call that actually performs the merge.
Using InfoPath 2007 to set merging on your InfoPath 2003 forms
Because InfoPath strives to achieve backwards compatibility, any form template you design in the InfoPath 2007 designer can be saved as an InfoPath 2003 form template. This will allow users that don’t have the newer version of InfoPath to fill out your form.
Even though the ability to specify how your form will merge is a new feature in InfoPath 2007, InfoPath 2003 already had the infrastructure in place to make it work. In fact, if you knew how to write the appropriate XSL stylesheet, you could have created all the specific merge functionality that is now permitted through the UI.
So, bottom line, all the fancy merging work that you do while designing your form in InfoPath 2007 will be respected when you save your form template as InfoPath 2003 and have users with InfoPath 2003 fill it out.
- BojanaProgram Manager
Take a look new InfoPath-related resources that were recently published to MSDN and Office Online:
1) The official "What's new in InfoPath 2007" review - excellent way to get to know new stuff that's coming with Office 2007.
2) A series of video walkthroughs on InfoPath 2007:
3) InfoPath Glossary - InfoPath comes with quite a few special terms; clarify any ambuguities with this tool.
It was brought to our attention that external e-mails that were sent to firstname.lastname@example.org were not getting through. This issue has now been resolved.
If you have a “cool” form that you would like to share with us, please send an e-mail with the following details to email@example.com -
The most popular submissions will be featured on our blog in future posts.
Check out other Cool Forms here.
If you want to learn more about InfoPath and SharePoint 2010 directly from the Microsoft product team, then sign up for the InfoPath 2010 Academy Live Series.
There are 2 remaining sessions in the series. The next session “Form-Driven Mashups using InfoPath and SharePoint 2010", presented by Nick Dallett, an InfoPath program manager lead, will take place on Wednesday, April 7th from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM (PST).
If you missed our first 2 sessions, “An introduction to SharePoint applications using InfoPath 2010” and "Building SharePoint Applications with InfoPath 2010", you can view them on demand here. Just click the “Register Now” button.
This is a great opportunity to learn all about our new features and scenarios directly from the product team, so sign up now!
The InfoPath Solution Video Contest is over! We assembled the team last Friday, and screened the final submissions, debated, re-watched, debated, re-screened again, and finally voted to determine the winners.
Before we announce the winners, let’s review the contestants. At final count at the close of the contest (midnight on March 1st ), we had received three submissions:
Author: Clayton Cobb
Company: Planet Technologies
Clay’s solution allows members of his “company” (including his 3 year old son!) to submit a request for time off. Employee information, including vacation balances, are stored in a SQL server database, which is modelled in Business Connectivity Services and exposed on SharePoint as an External List. Clay used an InfoPath Form Library form, which queries data from the external list using a SharePoint List data connection. A SharePoint workflow routes approval and other notifications via e-mail, and then updates the External list with a new vacation balance once the request is approved.
Click the image to view Clay’s submission
Author: Eric Raarup
Elle is a knowledge management solution which uses a cool Silverlight interface to knit together a complex solution involving projects in Dynamics CRM and employees in Dynamics GP, exposed in SharePoint using Business Connectivity Services, with InfoPath forms for data input.
Click to view the Inetium submission:
Author: Estyn Edwards
Company: Iomer Internet Solutions
Estyn’s submission is a prototype created for a client of the Edmonton-based Iomer solutions. The grant proposal system features a multi-view InfoPath form, and a Word document which uses content controls to populate a custom XML document in an OpenXML file. The Word document allows users to author large amounts of rich content, including ad-hoc commenting and change tracking. At the end of the process, custom code in SharePoint shreds the XML out of the Word document and injects the content into the InfoPath form for final verification and printing.
Click below to view Estyn’s submission:
After several viewings and a lively discussion, 17 InfoPath team members voted on the three submissions to determine the final prizes. There were passionate proponents of each of the submitted videos. When the votes were tallied up, the standings were as follows:
Eric Raarup of Inetium takes the top prize and walks away with the Xbox 360 Elite! The slick presentation of the video, the impressive solution to the knowledge-mining problem, and the clean integration of a bewildering array of Microsoft technologies makes Inetium the clear winner here.
Clayton Cobb of Planet Technologies takes this prize for his clever integration of external lists with SharePoint workflow and InfoPath forms. Because Clay was the runner-up in two categories, he takes his choice of either an InfoPath-branded North Face jacket, or a Zune HD.
Estyn Edwards takes this prize for his attractive InfoPath forms and the innovative use of Word to enable collaborative authoring of a large volume of rich text. Estyn will have second choice of either the InfoPath-branded North Face jacket or the Zune HD.
Thanks to our three participants, and congratulations!
For those of you who did not submit a video for the contest, we’re still interested in seeing the great solutions you build using InfoPath and SharePoint 2010. Post your videos on any public video hosting site, and send a pointer to the e-mail address listed in the official contest rules. The best videos will be showcased in this blog.
Program Manager Lead
This week’s cool form is a feature request issue tracking list used by the Visio team. It’s divided into two main sections, the separate status section allows readers to jump directly to the information they care most about. It uses picture buttons to allow selection between ‘Office 14’ and ‘Office 15’ and to show which one is currently selected. This form also dynamically generates the proper direct link to the bug database based on the bug ID that is entered.
Check out the new Capacity Management Resource Center for SharePoint 2010 that went live when Office 2010 released to manufacturing last Friday, April 16th. The InfoPath capacity planning document along with a refresh of the Capacity Planning Tool Kit are now available.
The Capacity Management Resource Center contains resources to help you with capacity management in your Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 environment—map your solution design to a farm size and set of hardware that supports your business goals.
Since we posted the information about the Office 2010 technical beta a couple of weeks ago, and our "Win an XBox" contest, we've had quite a few folks sign up for the program. Welcome to all the new folks in the technical beta! There are still slots available for folks interested in InfoPath, and we'll continue to take nominations until we're full.
Please note that the Technical Beta is different from the Technical Preview program. Individuals and companies who are accepted into the Technical Beta sign a non-disclosure agreement and get access to both Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010.
The InfoPath 2010 Technical Beta Solution Contest is open only to members of the Technical Beta. In order for you to come into the program by being sponsored by the InfoPath team, you must indicate on your nomination form that you are primarily interested in InfoPath. Also, you must include a valid e-mail address so that we can contact you to invite you into the program.
Here are the official eligibility rules for the contest:
This is a skill-based Contest. The object of this Contest is to create a video demo of an application built by the entrant using Microsoft InfoPath 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. For purposes of this Contest, each video demo you create and submit in the Contest will be called an “entry.” All eligible entries received will be judged using the criteria described below to determine the winners of the prizes described below.
WHAT ARE THE START AND END DATES?
This Contest starts at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time (PT) on 8/1/2009, and ends at 11:59 p.m. PT on 10/15/2009 (“Entry Period”).
CAN I ENTER?
You are eligible to enter this Contest if you meet the following requirements at time of entry:
· You are actively enrolled in the Office 2010 Technical Beta program with a valid program ID and are a legal resident of the 50 United States and District of Columbia, or Canada; and
o If you are 18 of age or older, but are considered a minor in your place of residence, you should ask your parent’s or legal guardian’s permission prior to submitting an entry into this Contest; and
· You are NOT an immediate family (parent, sibling, spouse, child) or household member of a Microsoft employee, an employee of a Microsoft subsidiary, or a person involved in any part of the administration and execution of this Contest.
This Contest is void outside the geographic area described above and wherever else prohibited by law.
The full rules of the competition, including instructions on how to submit your video demo, are posted on the official forums that are accessible to members of the Technical Beta.
The link to nominate yourself for the program is here: http://connect.microsoft.com/InvitationUse.aspx?ProgramID=3343&SiteID=160&InvitationID=Beta-PRJM-HVCM
I'm really looking forward to seeing the great solutions you come up with using the great new features in InfoPath 2010 and SharePoint 2010. Thanks for your continued support!
Lead Program Manager, Microsoft InfoPath
The first in a series of feature demo videos created by the InfoPath Product team is available for your viewing pleasure on Youtube.
In this video, Bojana Duke, a Program Manager on the InfoPath team, covers the basics of creating forms in InfoPath 2010 using some of our great new features including Page and Section Layouts, Quick Rules, Rules Manager and the Picture Button control.
To learn more, check out the video on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKJ3A12RfE8.
Check out the InfoPath 2010 overview video created by the InfoPath Product Marketing team on http://www.microsoft.com/officebusiness/office2010/. Click on the Videos tab and then click the InfoPath link.
This week, Channel 9 launched two new training courses for SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 created by developers for developers. You’ll find extensive instructor recordings from top MVPs on how to develop against both SharePoint and office 2010.
InfoPath is featured in:
Now that you have had time to download the SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 Beta releases, we want to see some of the great solutions that you are working on. To encourage you and foster some good-natured competition, we're opening up the contest that we started with the Technical Preview to all users of SharePoint 2010 and InfoPath 2010.
What is the InfoPath team looking for?
We want to see great examples of real-world solutions created using InfoPath and SharePoint 2010. If you have a solution you're building to solve a business problem for yourself or a customer, and you're using SharePoint 2010 with InfoPath forms, we want to see it! We'll use the videos you produce to understand what sort of solutions our customers create, to showcase best practices in our blog or at events, and to give you the recognition you deserve. You could be an InfoPath star!
Don't stop with the InfoPath form - we're looking for great examples of integration. For example:
How do I win the Xbox?
Contest is limited to eligible individuals as defined in the official contest rules (link below), and additional limitations may apply. All submissions will be reviewed by the InfoPath team, and prizes will be awarded in several categories, including best overall solution, best video, and best bug.
Please note that only legal residents of the US and Canada are eligible for prizes. However, we're eager to see videos from everyone, and we will showcase the best videos we receive, regardless of whether you are awarded a prize.
Click here to read the Official Contest Rules.
Do you want to hear about the exciting, new features and scenarios that have been added in InfoPath and InfoPath Forms Services 2010? Then, sign up for our upcoming Academy Live series.
In this series, you will hear directly from InfoPath product team members who will talk in-depth about InfoPath and Forms Services 2010 and how you can quickly and easily build applications in SharePoint without writing a line of code.
The series will consist of 4 sessions presented by members of the InfoPath product team. We will present 1 session a month, starting with an “Introduction to InfoPath and InfoPath Forms Services 2010”, presented by Bojana Duke from the InfoPath program management team. This session will take place on Wednesday, February 10th at 8:30 AM (PST).
Whether you are an InfoPath newbie or an experienced InfoPath user, we encourage you to sign up for these free sessions. Stay tuned for more details on how to sign up.
The InfoPath team.
Registration is now open for the 1st session in the InfoPath 2010 Academy Live Series, An Introduction to SharePoint Applications using InfoPath 2010, presented by Bojana Duke.
Click the link below to sign up for this free event.
Event Title: An Introduction to SharePoint Applications using InfoPath 2010 (INP02AL) Date/Time: Wed Feb 10, 2010, 8:30 AM, USA Pacific Event Registration URL: https://www.eventbuilder.com/event_desc.asp?p_event=e0b96f2a
In this week’s “5 for Forms” video demo, Nick Dallett will show you how to create a loan calculator application without writing a line of code. This simple application leverages the power of the InfoPath and Excel Web Parts by using an InfoPath form to input the values that are sent to an Excel Workbook which contains the complex formulas that calculate the repayments.
If you want to learn more about the new InfoPath Form Web Part, check out Nick’s earlier video demo – Managing data in your SharePoint Lists using the InfoPath Form Web Part.
Enjoy and please let us know what you think!
The InfoPath Team
Do you want to learn about InfoPath and SharePoint 2010 in FREE Web casts with the InfoPath product team? Then sign up for the InfoPath 2010 Academy Live Series.
There are 3 remaining sessions in the series. The next session “Building SharePoint Applications with InfoPath 2010” will take place on Wednesday, March 10th from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM (PST).
If you missed our 1st session, “An introduction to SharePoint applications using InfoPath 2010”, you can view it on demand here. Just click the “Register Now” button.
This is a great opportunity to learn all about our new features and scenarios directly from the product team, so sign up now!
If not, hurry up! There are only 10 days left to submit your entries.
For a taste of what we’re looking for, here’s one entry from Clayton Cobb of the Colorado SharePoint users group.
Think you can do better? Click here to see how to enter.
This week’s cool InfoPath form is a form used by one of the teams at Microsoft to track their status. It uses conditional formatting for color coding the status to make it easy to see progress at a glance. By recording team status on their SharePoint site, everyone knows how the team is doing and where they need to focus their energy. As new milestones are added to the project, they are added to the form.
Check out other Cool Forms! here.