Designing Forms for Microsoft Office InfoPath and Forms Services 2007

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2007-02-05
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
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The authoritative, one-stop tutorial and reference for developing custom applications based on the latest version of InfoPath.

Author Biography

Scott Roberts is a Senior Development Lead on the InfoPath team at Microsoft Corporation, and has been involved with InfoPath since its inception. He leads development on features ranging from controls and template parts to the Word/Excel importers. Scott is also the author of Programming Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 (Microsoft Press) and numerous technical articles and publications.

Hagen Green is a Software Design Engineer in Test II at Microsoft Corporation, and has been a member of the InfoPath team since its inception. He leads a team focused on the next version of Windows SharePoint Services. He contributed chapters on InfoPath to Visual Studio Tools for Office: Using Visual Basic 2005, and Visual Studio Tools for Office: Using C# (Addison-Wesley).

Table of Contents

Designing formsp. 1
Introduction to InfoPath 2007p. 3
Basics of InfoPath form designp. 25
Working with datap. 85
Advanced controls and customizationp. 155
Adding logic without codep. 215
Retrieving data from external sourcesp. 241
Extended features of data connectionsp. 297
Submitting form datap. 327
Saving and publishingp. 397
Building reusable componentsp. 431
Security and deploymentp. 455
Creating reportsp. 553
Workflowp. 613
Introduction to forms servicesp. 665
Advanced form designp. 727
Writing code in InfoPathp. 729
Visual studio tools for Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007p. 833
Advanced forms servicesp. 865
Hosting InfoPathp. 965
Building custom controls using ActiveX technologiesp. 1037
Add-insp. 1073
Importers and exportersp. 1115
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.


It Just Makes Sense Over the past ten years, Extensible Markup Language (XML) has become more widely used than ever before as a means of transferring data between applications and even between organizations. XML provides a standard protocol with which these applications and organizations can communicate. Using XML Schema, a company can define a standard structure for its data that can then be used across multiple departments and organizations. This structured data enables developers to easily create applications that can communicate with each other without much effort. In addition, most organizations use forms in one way or another, whether to enter a purchase request, submit expense report information, or track weekly status. If you look at a typical form, you will notice that the form itself is structured unlike a typical freeform document created in an application such as Microsoft Office Word 2007. In these freeform documents you can type anything you like in any way that you choose. Although a form may contain sections that allow you to enter freeform text such as comments, most of your typical forms are highly structured. Fields in the form usually require you to enter specific types of data such as sales numbers or costs. Since XML defines a structured data format (which can contain some unstructured elements) and forms are highly structured with bits of freeform data, it makes sense to tie together forms and XML data. Once a user has filled out a form that is connected to XML data, the data can easily be incorporated into back-end processes that understand the structure of the XML data for that form. So, this fits one of the main purposes of XML--tying together multiple processes using a standard protocol. Since building forms based on XML just makes sense, many software developers want to create forms-based applications to collect data and store it as XML. However, until a few years ago, this was a tedious and time-consuming process. Developers had to use tools such as Microsoft Visual C++, C#, or Visual Basic .NET and write sometimes a tremendous amount of code to create a forms application. Often, forms applications share similar functionality, such as spell checking, calculations, and data validation. In order to share this functionality across multiple forms applications, software developers needed to create code libraries in order to reuse their code. This worked fine when sharing the code within the same department or company. However, developers across multiple companies were likely going to duplicate the same work unless, of course, companies purchased these libraries from a third-party vendor. Developing forms applications in this way is not something that typical information workers can do. Usually this type of coding is reserved for advanced software developers. Another disadvantage of this approach is that different forms applications usually have different user interfaces. Each time a user fills out a form, he or she may need to learn a different set of commands and menu items. This learning curve costs the company time and money. About five years ago, Microsoft recognized the need for a common tool to build forms based on XML technologies. Existing XML-based tools required a thorough understanding of XML, so most information workers had trouble understanding how to use them. Also, most information workers do not know how to write code and, therefore, could not easily use development tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio. Therefore, it just made sense to create a tool that developers and information workers could use to create forms based on XML and that users could use to fill out those forms. That tool is InfoPath. (In Chapter 1, we'll tell you exactly what InfoPath is all about and introduce you to the extensive feature set included in this application.) Looking at the wealth of features included in InfoPath, especially those added in InfoPath 2007, it also just

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