InfoPath – Get user information without writing code (extended)
Posted by Clayton Cobb on June 21, 2009
In terms of free, out-of-the-box functions, I consider the UserProfileService to be the most powerful thing that can be used in SharePoint-based InfoPath forms. Itay Shakury made this wonderful blog post over two years ago that told us how to Get the current user without writing code. That blog post is so popular that Itay is still answering questions as recently as TODAY (June 20th, 2009). What we will talk about today is how to take this concept and extend it further so that you can get any profile info for any user by querying within the form after it has been opened through rules triggered by changed fields and buttons. One specific example will be to use the Manager node to get the manager’s additional info. Let’s begin…
Note: The following assumes you have already implemented the UserProfileService solution above, specifically the GetUserProfileByName method…
Another Note: The UserProfileService does NOT touch Active Directory. It only touches the Profile Database, which is part of the SSP, so it requires you to be importing profiles through the SSP to populate this database, because that’s where all the information comes from. The profile import pulls data from Active Directory, so it’s like connecting to AD, but not directly. Therefore, this web service is only available through MOSS and not WSS 3.0. For anyone who would like to do the same things but without having this web service, please consider using the Qdabra Active Directory Web Service that can be used in any type of InfoPath form as long as the organization uses Active Directory.
This write-up will be very involved, so in order to keep it from being 20 pages long, I’m going to explain certain concepts in detail ONCE, and then I will refer to that concept multiple times later without having to show more screenshots. Hopefully, that works. The 4 main ways we will be using the UserProfile Service:
- Populating default information upon form load
- Populating queried information with a button
- Populating queried information with a dropdown tied to a secondary data connection
- Getting Manager info
These are the steps we’ll take:
- Create form template with all relevant data elements
- Create layout table showing data groupings
- Create form library
- Create UserName custom list
- Create Data Connections – GetUserProfileByName web service, AutoFilename library Submit, and UserName list Receive
- Configure all fields and buttons – default values and rules
- Test Functionality
Create form template with all relevant data elements
You won’t need all of these for every form, but they are elements that I use for achieving some of the concepts. We’re combining all of the concepts, so you can either pick out what you need or build it all for practice, and then apply bits and pieces where applicable on your existing and future forms. The element names should be self-explanatory, so I’ll just use a screenshot to show you what should be built in the main data source (Fig 1)
Fig 1 – Form template showing all relevant data elements
Create layout table showing data groupings
In reality, you won’t end up showing most of these fields on the canvas of your forms, but they are showing here for testing and demonstration purposes. I recommend hiding most of the fields like the ones showing usernames and instead showing meaningful ones like the name fields. Again, the picture should be self-explanatory up front, so just follow this structure (Fig 2). Add a row for that custom button, then just drag the button to the canvas and rename it. We will configure it later. Also, do the same for the Submit and Close (optional) buttons below the table.
Fig 2 – Creating the layout table
Create form library
Create a basic Form Library on your SharePoint site. Go to Form Settings > Library Settings > Advance Settings > Display as Web Page (optional).
Create UserName custom list
Create a Custom List on your SharePoint Site. Change the Title column to UserName, and create another column named FullName. Populate this list with 3 known users (Fig 3) and be sure to use their exact username (i.e. ccobb) and not the domain name (i.e. domain\ccobb). For the Full Name, put whatever you prefer to use as a friendly name for that user.
Fig 3 – Creating the custom UserName list
Create Data Connections – GetUserProfileByName web service, AutoFilename library Submit, and UserName list Receive
Create 3 data connections (Fig 4) starting with the GetUserProfileByName web method from the first part of Itay’s blog entry.
Fig 4 – List of all Data Connections needed
Next, create the Submit data connection for submitting the form to your form library while using the strFilename data element (Fig 5). Ensure you select “Allow overwrite if file exists.”
Fig 5 – Submit using strFilename
Lastly, create a Receive data connection for retrieving the list of pre-defined usernames and full names. Be sure to select those two nodes when connecting to the list (Fig 6)
Fig 6 – Retrieve UserName and FullName from custom list
Configure all fields and buttons – default values and rules
There is a lot of work to do here, so bear with me. I’ll try to consolidate the similar settings to hopefully make it quicker to read and do. We have logic built in 5 places (not including the Submit and Close buttons):
- strSubmitter – Default value and rules for setting other field values
- strSubmitterMgr – Queries web service and a rule for setting other field values
- Form Load – A rule for setting field values
- btnCurrentMgrInfo – A rule for setting other field values
- strSelectedUser – Bound to secondary data connection as a dropdown list, multiple web service queries, and actions for setting other field values. This field puts it all together into one action.
strSubmitter – Set the default value for this data element to the function userName() (Fig 7).
Fig 7 – Setting strSubmitter default value to userName()
Create a rule with 3 actions that sets the values of the other 3 submitter fields (Fig 8). Each action starts with “Set a field’s value,” but I have scrolled right to show the formulas. Each formula is from the 2nd half of Itay’s blog entry. I will show how to do the strSubmitterMgr rule as one example to follow for all three (Fig 9). The actions HAVE to be in this order, or at least make sure that strSubmitterMgr is last in line. Due to there being no conditions, this rule fires as soon as strSubmitter is populated by the userName() default value.
Fig 8 – Create a rule with 3 actions for strSubmitter
The formula for strSubmitterMgr is substring-after(Value[Name = "Manager"], “\”). The Xpath for that statement in my form is substring-after(xdXDocument:GetDOM(“GetUserProfileByName”)/dfs:myFields/dfs:dataFields/s0:GetUserProfileByNameResponse/s0:GetUserProfileByNameResult/s0:PropertyData/s0:Values/s0:ValueData/s0:Value[../../../s0:Name = "Manager"], “\”). I chose this for the example, because it is the most complicated. It is using the substring-after function to strip out all the data that comes after the backslash, because the value that returns for “Manager” is a full domain name (i.e. domain\ccobb). We only want the username (i.e. ccobb), thus the substring-after function. If you built your form exactly like mine, then you can click the Edit Xpath button and paste in the Xpath statement above. However, that would not teach you how to use the GUI to achieve this goal, and your forms won’t always follow this format, so this is how you create that formula (Fig 9).
- Set the Action to “Set a field’s value.” Select strSubmitterMgr in the Field box. In the Value box, click the function button (fx). In the Formula box, type substring-after(, “\”) – copy and paste if you’d like. Then, put your cursor before the comma and click Insert Field or Group.
- In Data Source, select GetUserProfileByName (secondary). Drill all the way down through the dataFields groups until you get to the Value node. Select the Value node, then click Filter Data.
- Click Add
- In the first dropdown, click select field or group. From there, do the same thing you did in step 3 above. Get back to the GetUserProfileByName data source and drill down until you see the Name node. Select that node, set the operand to is equal to, then set the last pulldown to the text of “Manager”
If done properly, then all of those boxes should look like Figure 9. Follow the same procedure for the other two fields in Figure 8 except for the substring-after function. Hint: at the Insert Formula screen, you can copy that statement and paste it in the same box when configuring other fields. You can then double click the Value[Name = "Manager"] part that is underlined and click through the settings to change the Name part of step 5.
Fig 9 – Creating the strSubmitterMgr formula to retrieve just the Manager’s username
strSubmitterMgr – As soon as the 3rd action from above completes for populating strSubmitterMgr, it is time to fire off another rule with 4 actions (Fig 10). The first 2 actions have to be in that order, and they have to be first. The last 2 actions are interchangeable. Be sure to place these rules on the strSubmitterMgr field and not the strSubmitter field!
Fig 10 – Create a rule with 4 actions for strSubmitterMgr
You already know how to do the last two actions, because they are exactly the same as the strSubmitter actions. Just be sure to remember and set the field values for strSubmitterMgrEmail and strSubmitterMgrName. We’ll now focus on the first two actions. The Query using a data connection: GetUserProfileByName is extremely simple. You just click Add Action and choose Query using a data connection in the Action pulldown. It then gives you another pulldown of data connections where you choose GetUserProfileByName. That’s it.
The first rule requires some direct attention, because it is where the magic happens for this entire blog entry. It looks simple and actually is simple, but it’s the part that people never think of or just don’t realize it can be done. All we are doing is setting the AccountName field to the current field’s data. Ok, so what is this AccountName field? We never created such a thing! Ah, well it’s the only node in the queryFields group of the GetUserProfileByName data connection. We are taking the Manager’s username from strSubmitterMgr and sending it to this field just before querying that web service. This sends the Manager’s username to the web service so that it will return the data set of profile information relevant to the Manager instead of the Submitter. This is the key to getting information other than the current user’s!
Here’s how you do it (Fig 11). Click Add Action. In the Action pulldown, select Set a field’s value; in Value, select strSubmitterMgr (should show a dot afterwards); in Field, click the Select a Field or Group button. In Data Source, choose GetUserProfileByName (secondary), then drill down through the queryFields nodes until you reach the AccountName node. Select it and click OK. Pretty simple, huh?
Fig 11 – Sending a new query value to the GetUserProfileByName web service
Form Load – For the form’s Open Behavior, you will set a rule with 8 actions, all of which you have done already in this blog entry (Fig 12). Here is a quick list of the actions and their formulas
- strCurrentUser – Set field’s value to userName()
- AccountName - Set fields value to strCurrentUser
- Query GetUserProfileByName
- strCurrentUserEmail – Set field’s value to Value[Name = "WorkEmail"]
- strCurrentUserName – Set field’s value to Value[Name = "PreferredName"]
- strCurrentUserMgr – Set field’s value to substring-after(Value[Name = "Manager"], “\”)
- strCurrentUserMgrEmail – Set field’s value to NULL
- strCurrentUserMgrName – Set field’s value to NULL (setting these to NULL so that btnCurrentMgrInfo works properly without keeping saved data in these fields when re-opening)
These steps are sending the current user’s username to the GetUserProfileByName web service, which returns a data set of profile info that is used to populate three other fields of information about the current user – WorkEmail, PreferredName, and Manager. This may be the same info as the submitter, but it can accommodate users other than the submitter.
Fig 12 – One rule with 12 actions to perform each time the form opens
The reason why we’re using the a default value on strSubmitter and a rule for strCurrentUser is because using a default value makes the data populate once and stay the same during subsequent edits. Since our current user may not be the same as the submitter, we must use a rule when the form opens to set strCurrentUser to the current user’s username while the strSubmitter field will always have the original submitter’s username. All of the Submitter fields populated above will remain static, because there is always only one submitter. The CurrentUser fields will always be dynamic depending on who opens the form.
btnCurrentMgrInfo – This is the button labeled Get Current Manager Info. This button will have one rule with 4 actions that are identical to the strSubmitterMgr rule above except that the data will be sent to different fields (Fig 13). You start by setting the AccountName of the GetUserProfileByName web service to the username of the current user’s Manager. You then query the web service with the Manager’s username, which returns a data set of profile information about the current user’s Manager. You then set the current user manager fields to their respective values of WorkEmail and PreferredName. This example is just illustrating how you can use a button to populate such info.
Fig 13 – One rule with 4 actions to perform on a button push
strSelectedUser – This example puts a lot of concepts together into one simple action of choosing a dropdown selection. You start by changing your strSelectedUser control to a dropdown box (the field next to Choose User). You then configure the dropdown to pull data from the UserNames list (Fig 14). First, you choose the radio button for Look up Values from an External Data Source. In the Data Souce, choose UserNames. In Entries, click the button and select the UserNames repeating group, then click Ok. For Value, choose the UserName node, and for Display Name, choose the FullName node. What this is going to do is show the user some friendly Full Names, but the values behind those selections will be actual User Names.
Fig 14 – Configuring strSelectedUser as a dropdown bound to the UserNames list
Next, create one rule on strSelectedUser with 5 actions (Fig 15). Again, these actions are now familiar, but we’re combining multiple steps into one rule and using one new concept. We first set the web service’s AccountName node to the value of strSelectedUser, which if you recall is the actual User Name of the name chosen in the pulldown. Next, we query the web service. Then, we take the User Name of the Manager of the person selected and set the web service’s AccountName to this value. Basically, we’ve iterated through the earlier processes in this blog entry without using separate data fields. We now have yet another data set of profile info, which allows us to do the last step. The last step is to set strSelectedUserMgr to the Full Name (FirstName concatenated with LastName) of the selected user’s Manager. So think about it, we started with a user selected in a pulldown and jumped all the way to that user’s manager’s friendly Full Name all in one simple click.
For the 3rd action, remember to use this formula to get the Manager’s username: substring-after(Value[Name = "Manager"], “\”). On the 5th step, use this new formula for concatenating the FirstName with the LastName (these are attributes from the web service): concat(Value[Name = "FirstName"], ” “, Value[Name = "LastName"]).
Fig 15 – Creating one rule with 5 actions on the strSelectedUser pulldown
The custom Submit button is optional, but if you’d like to use that concept, please use my other write-up on that topic: Auto-Generating Filenames for InfoPath Forms.
Publish the form, go to the form library, then click New. In my example, I’m logged into the browser with an account named SharePoint Tester, and I am its manager. The form should be completely populated in the Submitter section, and it should be partially completed in the CurrentUser section. Notice the info is the same due to the fact that you are the submitter AND the current user, since you created this form as new. The Current User Manager info is not populated, because we have to push the button to populate it. The Selected User section is blank, because we have select a user from the pulldown first (Fig 16).
Fig 16 – Testing a new form
Submit your form, then re-open it with a different user account. In my example, I started with a tester account and then logged in as myself to view the submitted form. Notice that the Submitter information hasn’t changed, but the CurrentUser info now reflects the new user’s info, including that user’s manager’s username. Click on the Get Current Manager Info button and watch the next two fields get populated with the Current User’s Manager’s information (Fig 17).
Fig 17 – Current User info is dynamic and a button can be used to retrieve user profile info
For the last test, we will make a selection in the Choose User pulldown and see what happens. Choose one of the names in your pulldown and see if it populates the Selected User Manager field with that person’s manager’s full name (Fig 18).
Fig 18 – Use the value from a pulldown to determine that user’s manager’s Full Name