Clayton's SharePoint Madness

All About SharePoint, InfoPath, and SharePoint Designer!

Solving Business Problems with SharePoint and InfoPath

Posted by Clayton Cobb on April 26, 2011


How business users can solve business problems by collecting and managing data more effectively

Using SharePoint and InfoPath

  • FirstLook-InfoPath (PowerPoint slides from the presentation)
  • Video of presentation coming soon

This Free First Look Clinic will be held on Friday, April 29 starting at 9:30am until 2pm at the LeaderQuest facility in Denver.  This clinic will be taught by Clayton Cobb of Planet Technologies.

Although InfoPath has been a part of the Office since the 2003 version, most people haven’t even known it was on their desktop.  Now, though, with the release of both Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010, the importance of utilizing InfoPath has grown to the point that people are finally starting to take notice.  InfoPath is embedded all over the SharePoint 2010 product as well as other Office 2010 products, which makes it an invaluable tool to learn whether it be as a developer of forms and solutions or as a user who understands that this tool can be considered when determining different ways to resolve business issues.

Clayton Cobb, a former InfoPath MVP and current SharePoint MVP, will walk us through what these two products mean to each other.  You will first learn what InfoPath is by looking at it directly, building a  simple form, and talking about the basic features.  From there, we will see how to integrate this form with SharePoint 2010.  After that, we will delve deeper into the other integration points between SharePoint and InfoPath. Lastly, we will walk through a multi-system-integrated, multi-product, fully-automated Leave Request system built on InfoPath and SharePoint 2010 as the main platform without a single line of code.

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14 Responses to “Solving Business Problems with SharePoint and InfoPath”

  1. Frank said

    I created a request form using InfoPath and would like to have it start a workflow when the submit button is clicked. The form works and the form is send by e-mail. We are using MOSS and InfoPath 2007. We would like to start using the form for our IT department. I can send you the forms I created.
    Thanks

    • Clayton Cobb said

      The form can’t start the workflow itself. It must be submitted to the form library, which then triggers the workflow. I do not recommend submitting to email, because the emails will rarely be formatted properly, this copies the data across your mail system, the data is immediately static instead of dynamic, it is not being referenced from a central location, and it requires the user to have InfoPath installed locally. If you submit it to the form library and then send an email notification to the user with a direct link to the form, then everything I listed before gets reversed, and then your workflow will be triggered. Of course, you can do both submits at once, but I avoid email submits whenever possible.

  2. Frank said

    How does the workflow get trigged? I will be attending the Sharepoint Fest 19 & 20 May, will you be there? I will be attending the COSPUG next week (10 May).

    • Clayton Cobb said

      No, I won’t be at the Fest – not something I’m affiliated with, though I did provide a free InfoPath half-day seminar last week where I could have really helped you out. =D I’ll be at our next COSPUG meeting in Denver, but not the one in the Springs.

      The workflow gets triggered like any workflow. You tell it to start on creation or edit of an item in a list or library – wherever the workflow is associated. The submission of the form to the form library is considered a “creation” or “edit” if it already exists, so then the workflow triggers. This is just basic workflow stuff – nothing special.

  3. Heather said

    Clayton,

    I am a new user to InfoPath and have been working with Sharepoint for a while. I am currently working on a project to automate a daily correspondence between multiple parties. The objective is for one person to enter data into a form, then post that for others to view, we could set up alerts for those users, but would like to use workflow instead. From there 3 other groups comment and respond on actions that either have been or need to be taken.

    1 (enters data)–> 2(comments on data) –> 3 (identifies the actions that need to be taken) –> 4 (solves any unanswered questions)–> then loops back to 1 for follow up and confirmation.

    Please let me know what kind of form you think I need to use, I’d like to post it on SP and be able to link to it.

    Also, it’s important to know that we have SP ’07 and InfoPath ’10

    • Clayton Cobb said

      Heather, when you say “what kind of form,” what exactly do you mean? Are you trying to choose between form technologies? What are your available options? This sounds like a great candidate for InfoPath, but I can’t say much more than that. The workflow will play a big part, and that’s not directly related to the form technology you choose unless you’re evaluating non-SharePoint-related technologies.

      InfoPath 2010 won’t help you in terms of SharePoint 2007 other than making it easier/quicker to develop forms, but you don’t get all the great new 2010 functionality, unfortunately.

      • Heather said

        Thanks for getting back to me on this, since I have never used Info Path before I was wondering what template I should start with, thats what I meant by what kind of form to use.Should I just start with a blank one?

        I’ve found that if I try to use some of the SP templates avaliable in InfoPath, it’s backfiring maybe b/c of compatibility issues?

        Thanks

      • Clayton Cobb said

        Use SharePoint Form Library or SharePoint List as your templates for 2010. Blank is fine, too, but those should be the starting points based on whether you’re using a list or form library.

  4. Heather said

    I can’t use the Form Library or List b/c I get this error message: This feature requires SP Server 2010…and we dont have that capability. Is there a step by step guide on how to setup blank forms with rules and alerts? I know how I need it to work but seems like I’m missing a step somewhere. Thank you

    • Clayton Cobb said

      Heather, that’s only because you created the form in InfoPath 2010, so it defaults to a 2010 browser form. You just need to switch the compatibility to a 2007 form (browser or filler). If you’re using MOSS Enterprise, then you can do browser forms, but if you have MOSS Standard or WSS 3.0, then you can’t use browser forms and have to use Filler forms, which means every user of your form has to also have the version of InfoPath you’re using. Form Library forms and Blank forms are the same – you just have to change the Compatibility to Filler from Browser and from 2010 to 2007.

  5. Jeremy said

    Hello Clayton – Great responses to he questions. I hae one for you. Just upgraded to SharePoint 2010. Had workflows configure in MOSS with users on Office 2003. Email notifications we were using previously contained a hyperlink back to the task that triggered the worklfow. Now it says to click a button to edit the task, which is a 2007 ribbon function and not available in 2003. Do you know of a work around or will users need to migrate to office 2007 or greater?

    • Clayton Cobb said

      I haven’t used Office 2003 in a long time, so I don’t know what the interface provides. Are you sure there is no place to edit the task? Are you opening the email in full instead of just previewing it? It should still have a way to edit the task.

      How have you guys upgraded all the way to SharePoint 2010 without even moving to Office 2007? You’re missing a _TON_ of functionality that is being paid for and not used. Also, the Office licenses are usually in the EA with the SharePoint CALs – not sure if that’s the case with you or not.

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