Microsoft InfoPath

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Microsoft Office InfoPath
Microsoft Office InfoPath Icon
Microsoft Office InfoPath Screenshot
Screenshot of Microsoft InfoPath 2007.
Developed by Microsoft
Latest release 12.0.6214.1000 (2007 SP1) / December 11, 2007
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type XML-based form developer
License Proprietary
Website Microsoft Office InfoPath Homepage

Microsoft InfoPath (full name Microsoft Office InfoPath) is an application used to develop XML-based data entry forms, first released as part of the Microsoft Office 2003 suite of programs in late 2003 and later released as part of Microsoft Office 2007. Initially given the codename XDocs, the main feature of InfoPath is its ability to author and view XML documents with support for custom-defined XML schemata. It can connect to external systems using XML Web services through MSXML and the SOAP Toolkit, and back-end and middle-tier systems can be configured to communicate by using Web services standards such as SOAP, UDDI, and WSDL. Additionally, because InfoPath documents are raw XML, it is possible to directly repurpose the data in other XML processors.

In InfoPath, the user can complete a form while off-line. InfoPath may check some fields on the form for validity, and the user can attach a digital signature. The user later connects to the server and submits the form (in XML form), which may be routed for approval. When the user connects to the server, the form template may be automatically updated.


[edit] What is it for?

Because most have no prior experience with similar software, it is at first hard to understand what it is for. Infopath can be used for many things like:

  • Data input forms - for example collecting all the specs for a new employee
  • Electronic checklists that guide the user step by step through predefined work
  • Forms to coordinate work between multiple persons, where one person begins with filling in some fields (like: Customer, Goal, etc.) and passes the form to the next person, and so on. This is similar to paper forms that are used in many businesses to get work done

[edit] Development

As a member of Office products, InfoPath has a different usage scenario from the other applications, such as Word and Excel. To use InfoPath to fill in a form, a user must have a designer develop an InfoPath template first.

All the data stored in InfoPath forms are stored in an XML format, which is referred to as the "data source". InfoPath can also use other data sources, such as Microsoft SQL Server, XML or web services. These data sources are called "Secondary Data Sources" in InfoPath.

InfoPath provides several controls (e.g. Textbox, Radio Button, Checkbox, etc.) to present these data in data sources to end users. For data tables and secondary data sources, "Repeating Table" and other repeating controls are introduced. For each of these controls, actions (called "rules") can be bound in. A rule defines a specific action that will be performed under certain conditions. For example, a simple rule could be: "Set field 'Total' to 100 when number in field 'field1' changes".

More complex actions can be developed through "data validation". For each control, a data validation script can be bound to "On After Change" event. The script can be written using JScript or VBScript in InfoPath. In more advanced development, the whole InfoPath template can be exported to several files, and the script can be developed in C# or other languages by using Visual Studio.

[edit] Integration with SharePoint

The most common usage of InfoPath is to integrate it with Microsoft SharePoint technology using InfoPath Form Services (included in the enterprise commercial version of MOSS or as the separate Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007 product.

In SharePoint, a "Form Library" can be created and developed by using InfoPath. InfoPath fields will be exported as "Columns" in the library and can be directly read in SharePoint or be used as part of web services results in workflow development.

[edit] Versions

  • InfoPath 2003 (Included only in Office 2003 Professional and Professional Enterprise Edition (Volume license only) and sold separately)
  • InfoPath 2007 (Included in Office 2007 Ultimate and the volume license editions, Professional Plus, Enterprise, and sold separately)

[edit] External links

Microsoft Corporate Sites
Community Sites
Personal tools