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MSDN Forums SharePoint Task Force – A Call to Arms!

Posted by Clayton Cobb on August 16, 2010


**As a reminder and point of emphasis, this is not just about sheer numbers, but rather it is about increasing the quality of the forums for everyone involved, including ourselves. If we work hard, then the numbers will come, but we are not looking to purely add posts to the forum. We only want to see meaningful, well thought out responses that help the online community – both the thread creators and the rest of us who read the threads. Thank you!

**1st milestone update on 9/1/2010. It’s only been 2 weeks, but I’m doing a pulse check to see how we’re doing. I think the results are amazing so far!

**2nd milestone update on 11/7/2010. It has now been just under 3 months, and the impact has been huge. There have been more answered threads in the last 3 months than in all previous months combined before we started the Task Force. It’s absolutely not just due to the Task Force, but I believe we have helped spark a major upswing in quantity AND quality of responses…

Special Kudos to these Task Force members:

  • Steve Curran, Corey Roth, Dave Hunter, Alpesh Nakar, Spence Harbar, John Ross, John Ferringer, Wictor Wilen, and Todd Wilder for all busting their tails to rack up over 500 points (honorable mention to Roland White for 499!).

In 3 months of work, here is the impact so far:

  • Each of the 4 SP2010 forums have an increased answer rate of over 10 percentage points with SPD/InfoPath rising over 15 percentage points
  • All 4 SP2010 forums are over 50% in answer ratio when none were over 45% when we started. 2 of the 4 are almost up to 60% overall.
  • Each SP2010 forum has had a significant decrease in # of threads with no replies. The Visual Studio forum has dropped the most – by 5.63 percentage points – just above SPD/InfoPath at 5.42 percentage points. None of the forums are above 12% now.
  • 6004 new threads have been posted and 4552 threads have been answered for an answer rate of 75.82%
  • 4552 answers in 3 months equals 53.4% of the total answers given EVER in the 2010 forums and amounts to 114.7% of all answered threads prior to the formation of the Task Force
  • Task Force members contributed 3420 posts and 1331 answers (38.9% answer ratio). This accounts for 29.2% of all answers during this timeframe
  • Despite 6004 new threads being posted, the total # of threads with no replies has only gone up by 230 (3.8%)
  • Answer rates for all SP2010 forums are above 72% during this span with Visual Studio leading the way at 81.4% followed by SPD/InfoPath at 78.8%

Due to lack of participation, the Task Force member list was pared down considerably. Anyone with less than 10 posts over the last 3 months was removed, though their contributions are appreciated. It is just very time-consuming to track so many people, so I’ve narrowed it down to so, since some are on the bubble, and I’d like to see continuous contributions.

We still have a long way to go, so let’s keep it up. I hope those who signed up and haven’t started yet are ready to get cranking, and I hope we get more all-stars to join – many are already doing it on their own, so I hope they decide to join the list. Keep rockin!

Ok, folks, the SharePoint forums at MSDN/TechNet seriously need our help. We have an amazing community that gives and gives through user groups, SharePoint Saturday events, major conferences, tons of blogs, tons of books, articles, newsletters, etc., but we have an incredible resource right in front of us that needs a lot more attention. Microsoft provides a set of forums for the entire world to benefit from, and there is an entire area devoted just to SharePoint. There is a pre-2010 SharePoint forum with 17 sub-forums, and there is a 2010 SharePoint forum with 4 sub-forums. These areas provide immeasurable amounts of valuable information to people worldwide who need to either learn about SharePoint or get a question answered. Unfortunately, though, our answer rate in the SharePoint forums pales in comparison to almost every other product category. We have thousands upon thousands of questions that have gone without a single reply and many thousands more without correct answers. The product team and the moderator team do their best to keep pace, but they can’t do it without us. We, the community leaders, community givers, and MVPs are the real people who drive this train, but there aren’t currently enough of us.

That’s why this is a call to arms. I know that not everyone can spend every day on the forums answering questions, but if all of us band together to give a little more effort than we have in the past, then it will make a huge difference. We have the 3rd-largest MVP community, but we have one of the worst answer ratios. I’m ready to change that, but I need help. I need help from people who are already recognized experts – do you realize how exciting it is for a new person to see their question get answered by a 5-time MVP who also authored the book in their cabinet? I need help from people who don’t even realize they can help – if you do SharePoint for a living and are the expert to your client, then I guarantee you have knowledge to share that someone else doesn’t yet have. I need help from people who spend tons of time contributing to the community in other ways but haven’t considered the forums to be a valuable place to spend time – I’m telling you that this is very important, and it will be very rewarding to you and the people you help.

Now, here is the empirical data – just showing the 2010 forums for now – and here is our Task Force! We have a nice mix of wily veterans, occasional dabblers, and noobs. J

 

  

8/15/10

11/7/10

Name

Points

Posts

Answers

%

Points

Posts

Answers

%

Steve Curran

17901

2741

1119

40.8%

1790

237

116

48.9%

Corey Roth

3769

692

220

31.8%

1427

214

94

43.9%

Dave Hunter

17307

2817

1051

37.3%

1404

190

87

45.8%

Alpesh Nakar

3836

915

174

19.0%

989

166

61

36.7%

Spence Harbar

651

95

39

41.1%

950

170

55

32.4%

John Ross

8553

1802

430

23.9%

920

122

56

45.9%

John Ferringer

5412

686

363

52.9%

743

71

54

76.1%

Wictor Wilén

2904

461

179

38.8%

556

69

39

56.5%

Todd Wilder

897

203

40

19.7%

507

74

31

41.9%

Roland White

0

0

0

0.0%

499

97

26

26.8%

Randy Drisgill

3627

660

217

32.9%

389

45

26

57.8%

Chakkaradeep Chandran

3715

838

187

22.3%

386

55

24

43.6%

Sean Wallbridge

12

6

0

0.0%

250

26

18

69.2%

Rob Wilson

248

50

13

26.0%

250

32

19

59.4%

Brian Merrifield

8

6

0

0.0%

249

41

14

34.1%

Moonis Tahir

7729

1302

510

39.2%

223

27

17

63.0%

Eli Van Eenwyk

1710

307

102

33.2%

168

24

10

41.7%

Wes Preston

474

84

26

31.0%

163

19

12

63.2%

Nigel Price

83

95

5

5.3%

146

41

6

14.6%

Rajesh Sitaraman

3394

595

196

32.9%

124

12

10

83.3%

Brian T. Jackett

7

1

0

0.0%

118

24

7

29.2%

Frode Aarebrot

697

123

45

36.6%

88

11

7

63.6%

Johnny Tordgeman

8

33

1

3.0%

81

18

4

22.2%

Chris Schwab

538

80

30

37.5%

79

13

4

30.8%

Shannon Bray

5701

951

350

36.8%

70

20

3

15.0%

Clayton Cobb

27150

5500

1419

25.8%

9087

1602

531

33.1%

         

21656

3420

1331

38.9%

 

Forum

Status

8/15/10

8/15/10

11/7/10

11/7/10

11/7/10

11/7/10

General

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Threads

3529

  

5785

  

2256

  

  

Unanswered

2004

  

2523

  

519

  

  

Answered

1464

42.21%

3165

55.64%

1701

76.62%

  

No Replies

481

13.87%

601

10.57%

120

5.41%

Setup / Admin

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Threads

2833

  

4427

  

1594

  

  

Unanswered

1668

  

2100

  

432

  

  

Answered

1130

40.39%

2267

51.91%

1137

72.47%

  

No Replies

418

14.94%

479

10.97%

61

3.89%

SPD / InfoPath

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Threads

1259

  

2245

  

986

  

  

Unanswered

709

  

919

  

210

  

  

Answered

543

43.37%

1323

59.01%

780

78.79%

  

No Replies

184

14.70%

208

9.28%

24

2.42%

Dev

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Threads

1873

  

3041

  

1168

  

  

Unanswered

1027

  

1240

  

213

  

  

Answered

832

44.76%

1766

58.75%

934

81.43%

  

No Replies

315

16.94%

340

11.31%

25

2.18%

       

Diff Answers

4552

53.4%

       

Diff No Replies

230

3.8%

 

SharePoint 2010 just recently released, so there are tons of questions flooding in, but there aren’t many people answering yet. Yes, I know that it’s new, so not as many people know it yet, but I also know that there are many of you out there working with 2010 as much as possible, so I bet you know the answer to a lot of these questions. The goal is two-fold:

  • Decrease the “No Replies” to under 10% in each sub-forum
  • Increase the Answer ratios to 60% in each sub-forum

Both goals are easily attainable. We can start by going back through all threads with no replies by going to the individual sub-forum and clicking the No Replies filter at the top. Go through ALL of these to find ones you can answer, but don’t just reply for the sake of replying. Please provide valuable information or ask questions to further clarify the question in case it wasn’t clear. This will help us knock down the non-replied threads in a hurry. I will update the numbers every 2 months to show how we’re progressing. The 2nd goal is not quite as easy, but it’s still very doable. To get this number up, it requires that we truly spend time providing or FINDING the right answer. There are many times where I don’t know the answer off-hand, but I’m able to go into one of my environments to test and verify, then I give an answer. For InfoPath questions, I luckily have access to the product team for getting tough questions answered, but I know some of you have great connections with the SharePoint product team and/or with other extremely knowledgeable people who can help get these questions answered more effectively. Your help is of vital importance…

 

So, what do we do? I need volunteers. Either send me a DM to @Warrtalon, or if I’m not following you yet, send a Tweet to the #SPTF hashtag that mentions me and your desire to join up. I will follow you to get your info and add you to the list. You can also click on my Contact page to email me directly. As people join, I will take a snapshot of their forum participation to date so that I can do cross-checks later. However, this is not about individual goals or thresholds. This is about the forum itself and us working as a team to make it better. It’s up to us to make this happen…

 

Thank you all!

Clayton Cobb

SharePoint Architect & InfoPath MVP

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Posted in InfoPath 2007, InfoPath 2010, MOSS 2007, SharePoint 2010, SPD 2007, SPD 2010, Workflow, Workflow | 19 Comments »

InfoPath – Copy SharePoint List Data to Main Data Source

Posted by Clayton Cobb on August 3, 2009


qRules Series #1 – CopyTable


One thing that you can’t easily do in InfoPath is to copy repeating data from a secondary data source – like a SharePoint list – to the main data source.  This is an important necessity, because the data from secondary data connections does not get saved in the resulting XML data file of a submitted/saved InfoPath form.  So, when you look at the form initially, you see the nice pretty data from your SharePoint list enumerated within the repeating table you placed on the canvas, but if you were to open the raw XML file, none of that data would be there.  This is because an InfoPath form only keeps whatever data is saved to its main data source.  A data connection to a SharePoint list is just a secondary data connection, which in essence becomes a window into the data as it currently exists.  Yes, you can re-open your XML file in InfoPath and see the data from your SharePoint list, but it’s the current instance of that data, not the data that existed at the time you previously submitted the form.  Sometimes, this is ok, but what if you needed to get that SharePoint data into your form and keep it there?  To do this, you must copy the data into the main data source.  How can you do that?  Well, you can custom code something, or you can use the great set of special commands known as qRules that is provided to all of us by Qdabra (qRules 1.7 is currently a free download).  qRules allows you to do many things, but the one command we will focus on is named CopyTable.

Caveats:

  • qRules introduces code to your form, so if your forms are browser-enabled, then they will require the Administrative-Approval publishing type. As of qRules 1.8, which will release this week (first week of September 2009), we can now use CopyTable in browser forms. I have tested it and confirmed that it does work. If you need information on how to properly publish a form template in this manner, refer to Janice Thorn’s blog post on the topic.
  • The CopyTable command will only work if the nodes match, which also means each column has to have data in it (no blank fields). The reason your fields can’t be blank is because when there is a blank field, no placeholder for that field is brought down in the XML, so it’s as if that node doesn’t exist. Qdabra is looking at supporting this in a future version.

The example I will use for this blog is a Weekly Status form template (based off the Meeting Agenda sample) within a Meeting Workspace where you pull in Active Tasks from a SharePoint Task List on demand so that a snapshot of the tasks is saved within the form.  The purpose of this is so that at a later time, the Weekly Status for that week’s meeting can be opened, and you will see the status of the team’s tasks when the meeting occurred rather than the current point in time.  In essence, it becomes an historical record of the team’s tasks just like meeting minutes are intended to be.  For the purposes of this blog, I will not go into great detail about meeting workspaces and how they work, but I will briefly explain how InfoPath forms need to be used in order to get the recurring meeting functionality. Here are the steps to accomplish the goal:

  1. Create Tasks List (covered in minimal detail)
  2. Create Meeting Workspace with a Form Library (covered in minimal detail)
  3. Create Form Template
  4. Install qRules and Inject Form
  5. Apply CopyTable Command Rule
  6. Publish the Form and Verify Success

Create Tasks List

  • Create a simple tasks list.
  • Add some tasks with a variety of statuses, priorities, and due dates (Fig 1).

 

Fig 1 – Basic tasks list with several tasks added

  • Take note that the Active Tasks built-in view only shows tasks that are not completed (Fig 2).

 

Fig 2 – Active Tasks view only shows incomplete tasks

  • Set Active Tasks view as Default View.

Create Meeting Workspace

  • Create a Basic Meeting Workspace with Recurrence (I prefer to use Outlook 2007 to create my recurring meeting, and then I use the integrated Meeting Workspace feature button to provision my site in SharePoint – Fig 3).


Fig 3 – Creation of Meeting Workspace in Outlook 2007

  • Edit the default page of your new Meeting Workspace and close the default web parts (optional).
  • Create Form Library and be sure to NOT click Yes for “Change items into series items” (Fig 4).  If we do that, then all forms show on every meeting page (each recurring date).  If we leave this as No, then only the relevant form for that meeting will display each week.

 

Fig 4 – Form library within a Meeting Workspace – not a series item

  • This will put your new Weekly Status form library on the default page for each recurring meeting within this workspace (Fig 5).


Fig 5 – View of default Meeting Workspace page showing the current week Create Form Template

  • Create new template based on built-in sample Meeting Agenda template and modify to your preference (Fig 6).

 

Fig 6 – Weekly Status form template

  • Create a Receive data connection to the Team Tasks SharePoint list, but set it NOT to “Automatically retrieve data when form is opened” (Fig 7).  Be sure to choose only the fields you want to ultimately see in the form, because this will play a big part in our CopyTable command.

 

Fig 7 – Tasks data connection with automatic retrieval check box de-selected

  • Create data structure in form template that exactly matches the data structure of the SharePoint data connection.  Your SharePoint Tasks list data connection will include whatever fields you selected during the creation of the data connection from the previous step.  Simply go to the Data Source pane in InfoPath and choose your “Tasks (Secondary)” data source.  Drill down until you get to the nodes.  You will notice that the fields within the Tasks repeating group are attributes and not elements (this is important).  *Note: You can also see the raw data structure by clicking Save As Source Files and opening your Tasks.xsd file in notepad. Now, go back to your main data source and add a new non-repeating group (aka Table) that includes the Tasks repeating group (aka Row) and all the attribute fields (Columns).  By default new fields will be added as elements, so be sure to add them as attributes so that they exactly match the attribute fields from the SharePoint list (Fig 8 ). The field names don’t have to exactly match, but you may find it helpful.

 

Fig 8 – Tasks node structure in main data source matching SharePoint secondary data source

  • Drag the newly added repeating Tasks group from your form’s Main data source onto the canvas as a repeating table and configure the columns/fields (Fig 9).
    • Stretch and shrink the columns so that the data will display properly
    • Change the Complete column header to %
    • Change the % field control format to show Percentage with no decimal places
    • Change the Due Date field control to a Date Picker (optional)
    • You’ll also probably want all of these to be read-only fields. *Note: To make a Date Picker control Read-Only, you set conditional formatting on it that says, “If Due_Date is present, then make control Read-Only.”

 

Fig 9 – Tasks Main data source repeating table with formatting Install qRules and Inject Form

  • Download and install qRules 1.7 from InfoPathDev.com (Qdabra’s community site).  You can see here that qRules 1.7 does far more than just CopyTable, but those other commands will be the subject of future blogs.  You can also get previously-written explanations and discussions related to qRules here.
  • After a successful install, Inject qRules 1.7 into the form template (Fig 10)

 

Fig 10 – Injecting form template with qRules 1.7 Apply CopyTable Command Rule

  • Create button for retrieving Active Tasks on demand and for performing the CopyTable qRule (Fig 11)
    • Simply drag a Button to the canvas and change the label to something like Show Active Tasks
    • Click the Rules button and Add a rule named something like Query Tasks and Copy
    • Add an Action that Queries using the Tasks data connection
    • Add an Action that Set’s a Field’s Value, choose the Command node from the QdabraRules (Secondary) data source, and set the value to this command string: CopyTable /dsnamesrc=Tasks /tablesrc=/dfs:myFields/dfs:dataFields /rowsrc=dfs:Tasks /tabledest=my:meetingAgenda/my:Task /rowdest=my:Tasks /empty=yes
      • KEY NOTE!! Do not try to paste your command string into the function builder (fx button). Just paste it directly into the Value field.
      • dsnamesrc: This is the name of your source data connection, which is named Tasks in our example.  Remember that this could be different if you apply this elsewhere, so be sure to use the proper name for this attribute
      • tablesrc: This is the table within your data source that provides the data.  You need to properly type in the hierarchy from the Tasks secondary data connection using the information you found in Figure 8.  Notice that the namespace for a SharePoint list is dfs and not my.
      • rowsrc: This is the repeating group that includes the nodes from your SharePoint data connection.  Mine is Team_Tasks, but if you use the default Tasks list from a Team Site, this would just be dfs:Tasks.
      • dsnamedest: This parameter is not used in the above command because it defaults to the main data source, but if you needed to copy your data to another secondary data source, you would provide the name of that data connection here.
      • tabledest: Like tablesrc, this is the table that will receive the data.  This uses the structure we created in our main data source in Figure 8.  Notice the default namespace for an InfoPath form is my, and then my data source root is meetingAgenda due to using the Meeting Agenda sample template.
      • rowdest: This is the repeating group where we want to send the data
      • empty: This is a field that accepts a yes/no flag based on whether you want to first erase all existing data first from the destination table.

 

Fig 11 – Custom button that queries the SharePoint list and performs the CopyTable command

  • Preview the form and click the button to verify that there are no errors and that your repeating table populates with the Active Tasks only (Fig 12).


Fig 12 – Repeating table in main data source showing Active Tasks Publish the Form and Verify Success

  • Publish the form, go to your Meeting Workspace, and click New in the form library
  • Fill out as much of the form as you want
  • Click the Show Active Tasks button, ensure it populates the table, and then click Save to save the form back to the library
  • When you see the XML form in the library, click on it and verify that you still see the data
  • Close the form, then go change an active task to mark it as completed so that it doesn’t show up in our Active Tasks view (Fig 13/14)



Fig 13/14 – CopyTable task complete and no longer active

  • Re-open your existing form (Fig 15) and notice that you still see the previous data (3 tasks, not 2).  This is the desired behavior, because we want to know the status of our Active Tasks at the time of the meeting, not later after the meeting when we re-open the form.  If we were only showing the secondary data source, then we would always see the current Active Tasks, which is not desired.  If you were to click the button again, then it would update with the new tasks, but that is not the intent here (feel free to apply conditional formatting to hide the button after it is saved).  You would only hit the button on new forms when conducting future meetings. In the upcoming qRules 2.0, Qdabra will provide SharePoint list diffing capabilities, so you will be able to see what has changed when you re-open the form, because qRules would automatically compute the diff.


Fig 15 – Final view of completed form

  • Another point of note is that we aren’t using my Auto-Generating Filenames for InfoPath Forms concept, because if you use submit in a Meeting Workspace, the XML form saves to the root of the form library, making it invisible to any of the recurring meeting dates.  Using save allows it to save to its respective meeting (Fig 16) date and thus only see one form per meeting and ensuring that you only see the snapshot of active tasks at that given date.


Fig 16 – Saved form shows up in proper meeting date  

Fig 17 – Final Product

As an overview of what we’ve accomplished, here is a final set of pictures showing that our form is published and saved to one site while the Task list resides on a different site, but both are interacting within the same form. What you can’t necessarily “see” is that the data is not being presented from the SharePoint list as a Secondary data source, but rather it is being added into and shown from the form’s Main data source for later use and reference.

Upcoming Blogs in the qRules series

  • Save images to SharePoint and convert to links in your form
  • Calculate difference between two dates
  • Get Error Count
  • Generate GUID

Posted in Office 2007 | Tagged: , , , , , | 21 Comments »

InfoPath – User Roles in Browser-Enabled Forms Using AD Groups

Posted by Clayton Cobb on July 19, 2009


MAJOR REVISION – Now using GetCommonMemberships web method to determine group memberships for users without needing to use contact lists or any other manual data source!

So, you need to restrict certain controls in your InfoPath form, but it’s browser-enabled, and you just found out that User Roles are not supported, huh?  You also see that SharePoint permissions do not help restrict specific areas within your form, so what do you do?  There are probably several methods, but here is the one I have come up with that uses all built-in functions of InfoPath and MOSS 2007 without any code and leverages Active Directory Security Groups.

Special thanks to a co-worker of mine – Irene Clark – who I taught to use the UserProfileService and subsequently figured out on her own that GetCommonMemberships could help with User Roles.  She showed it to me, and I immediately jumped on it to come up with what you see here.   Thank you very much, Irene!

Here is an outline of the steps with the assumption that you already have a working, browser-enabled form.  If anyone needs me to write up the basic steps of doing creating a browser-enabled form from scratch, let me know via the Blog Request Log:

  1. Add GetCommonMemberships data connection
  2. Add necessary fields to form template and configure them
  3. Add conditional formatting to applicable controls

User Profile Service – GetCommonMemberships Method

We must add this superb web service to our form template as a data connection.  Please use the first 8 steps of Itay’s writeup to get this done as I can only give him credit for my extensive knowledge of this web service.  Once you’ve added it successfully, we need to do a few things with it using the later steps in Itay’s blog.  Here are the steps.  They are only text with no screens, so I will just paste them here.  Remember that we are leveraging a different web method than Itay, but it’s the same web service:

  • With InfoPath opened go to Tools > Data Connections, and click ‘add…’ to add a new data connection to the form. This opens up the Data Connection Wizard.
  • We want to receive data from the WS about the current user, so choose receive data’ and click next.
  • Our data source is a WS so choose ‘Web Service’ and next.
  • Now you will have to point the wizard to the WS. Type an address similar to this: http://ServerName/_vti_bin/UserProfileService.asmx  and click next.
  • Here you get a list of all methods for that WS, choose GetCommonMemberships and click next.
  • In this screen you can specify what parameters are sent to the method, we are relying on the method’s ability to return the current user name if no value is passed to it, so we will leave this as is (no value is passed to the method) and click next.
  • Click next and make sure ‘Automatically retrieve data when form is opened’ is checked.
  • Finish the wizard.

In this solution, the GetCommonMemberships (GCM) method of the UserProfileService will provide the values we need to check a user’s Active Directory (AD) Security Group (SG) and Distribution List (DL) membership.  This method also provides SharePoint (SP) Site membership, but that is not as useful as if it provided SP group membership, which it does not.  I will be focusing only on the AD group memberships for this write-up.  Here are some steps showing how to use and see what this method provides:

  • View this method’s node structure
  • Drag the whole repeating group to the canvas and preview to see the result
  • Reduce the table to the most useful fields and decide which ones you want to leverage
  • Filter to show only the AD groups
  • Create a dropdown control bound to an element in your main data source that will show a selectable list of groups for a given user
  • Use this information to apply conditional formatting on other controls

Notice that the node structure in the GCM method (Fig 1) is much more friendly than GetUserProfileByName.  You can clearly see the information that is available, and the nodes are self-explanatory for the most part.

URG1

Fig 1 – GCM Node Structure

Grab the MembershipData repeating group onto the canvas and choose Repeating Table when prompted.  This lays out the entire node structure nicely, although you will need to expand the table and the columns in order to clearly see the data (Fig 2).

URG2  

Fig 2 – Full GCM Repeating Table Structure with Sample Data

In my opinion, certain fields are not useful to us due to either not having data or not having data that is useful for determining User Roles.  I will delete the columns named Group Type, Privacy, ID, Member Group ID, and Group (Fig 3).  Notice that Member Group ID does have some unique info, but I am not yet sure how to leverage that data.  You may also want to remove the SourceInternal field from the MemberGroup section, because it shows the same GUID each time (at least in my system).  As for the remaining fields, here are my notes so far:

  • Source: This shows whether or not the record is an AD group (noted as “DistributionList”) – or a SharePoint site membership (noted as “SharePointSite”).  Notice, these are not SharePoint groups, but rather site memberships and only where the user has been specifically added to that site with permissions as opposed to inherting permissions through AD SG membership.  The AD groups include both SGs and DLs, which is important to know.
  • Member Group – Source Reference: This shows the Organizational Unit path in Active Directory of the DistributionLists and shows a GUID for SharePointSites.
  • Display name: This is the Display Name of the group as defined in AD.  In Outlook, this name can typically be used as an addressee for an email, and the name will resolve to the email address.  This name SHOULD be unique and will be what we use for our User Role matching later.  For SharePointSites, this is just the site name.
  • Mail NickName: This is the alias for that group in AD, and it also will resolve to the email address when used in Outlook.  However, I found in my system that there were _two_ separate contacts in the GAL with the same alias.  That should not happen, and I will be notifying the AD admins, but the fact that it did happen with a common SG I use means it is not a guarantee, so be wary of that.  The same could potentially happen for Display Name, but that is a much longer and more specific name while aliases are sometimes just a few letters.  There is no nickname for SharePointSites.
  • URL: This is the direct email address for the group in the form of mailto:name@domain.com.  This also could be a very good source for matching groups and/or for sending emails.  Again, the email address SHOULD be unique, but that all depends on how well your AD is maintained.  For SharePointSites, it shows the URL to the site.

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Fig 3 – Partial GCM Table with Relevant Columns Only

If you ever plan to use this method for displaying a user’s list of group memberships, you may want to only show the DistributionList records.  To do so, simply right click on the repeating table itself and create a conditional formatting rule that hides the control if the Source node is equal to “SharePointSite” in it (Fig 4).  Interestingly, when going through the wizard to set this condition, the wizard automatically detected the available options for that node.  I am used to seeing that with my main data source, but it does not always happen when referencing a secondary data source node.  In this case, it helps to quickly choose the right selection without the potential for a syntax error.  The result will be that you only see DistributionList records in the repeating table, which is the information that would be useful.

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 Fig 4 – Set Filter on GCM Table to Only Show AD groups

You may also at some point wish to show a user’s group memberships in a pulldown and then use a particular selection to trigger a rule or match some other condition elsewhere in the form.  You may even use it to see another user’s memberships (other than the current user) and then select a group to then invoke the UserGroup web service (or possibly other available web services/methods similar to this) to enumerate the users in the group.  That is outside the scope of this write-up, but it’s something to consider.  To set up the dropdown, follow these steps:

  • Create a text data element in your main data source with whatever name you prefer
  • Drag that field to the canvas, which makes a text box
  • Right-click that box and change it to a Drop-down List Box
  • Double-click the dropdown to get to its properties (Fig 5)
    • Select the radio button that says, “Look up values from an external data source
    • For the Data Source, choose GetCommonMemberships
    • For Entries, click the button, drill down through the groups, and select the MembershipData repeating group
    • For Value, choose whatever node you prefer as your primary key (unique value).  DisplayName, Nickname, and URL are all suitable.
    • For Display Name, choose the DisplayName node
  • Click OK until done and preview the form.  You should see the friendly names of your groups all listed in the dropdown.  Since this is a browser form, we cannot filter the dropdown (at least until we get SharePoint 2010!), so you will see the SharePointSites, too. 

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Fig 5 – Dropdown Bound to Main Data Source and Showing GCM Group Data

Add Necessary Fields to Form Template, Create Layout, and Configure Default Values

First, manually create all the fields and groups you see below (Fig 6).  Notice that strAdmin and strFinance have default values.  Do not mimic these in your real form, because they will depend on your group names, which we’ll get to shortly.

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Fig 6 – Data Structure

Next, we need to create our layout on the canvas (Fig 7).  For this example, I just simply have two sections that are bound to grpAdmin and grpFinance (do not include their child fields), respectively, along with some text and a color for differentiation.  I also have a repeating table bound to the MembershipData repeating group of the GetCommonMemberships method that is only showing the DisplayName element.  This is only on the form for now to show what is happening, but it would not be on the form when using this concept unless you have some reason for showing the current user’s groups.  You get this on the canvas by following the steps shown in Figures 2-4.

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Fig 7 – Form Layout

After that, we need to assign our initial values that will play a part in the security of our form.  For this exercise, we will use two Group Check Fields. This part is important, because this is what defines the group memberships in your form that will be leveraged for User Roles.  I am using “Sharepoint Admins” and “Finance,” because those are the _exact_ words that show up in the DisplayName field of GetCommonMemberships (refer to Fig 2).  In your case, you’ll want to add a field for each group that you want to define for your User Roles and set its default value accordingly:

  • strAdmin – Set the default value to the text “Sharepoint Admins” (no function used)
  • strFinance – Set the default value to the text “Finance”
  • Remember, please use proper values for your environment based off what you see in your equivalent of Figure 2 above

Add Conditional Formatting to Sections

  • Administrators Section – We are going to set conditional formatting on this control (Fig 8) so that if the user is not in the Sharepoint Admins security group, then this control will be hidden:
    • Double-click the Administrators section on the canvas to get to its Properties, click the Display tab, then click Conditional Formatting and click Add
    • In the first field, click Select a field or group
      • In the Data Source pulldown, select the GetCommonMemberships secondary data source
      • Drill down the dataFields path until you get to DisplayName, which you should single-click
      • At the bottom of this box where it says Select, choose the phrase All occurrences of DisplayName, then click OK
    • For the Operand, choose are not equal to
    • In the last box, click the pulldown and choose Select a field or group, then choose strAdmin from the main data source
    • Lastly, in the Formatting area, check the box for Hide this control

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Fig 8 – Conditional formatting to hide sections from unintended users

  • Finance Section – Do the same thing as with the Administrators Section except in the last box of the conditional formatting setup, choose strFinance.  This will compare the current user’s list of group memberships with the exact name of the Finance security group, which is what we set the value of strFinance to be.

Now, it’s time to show it in action.  In my scenario, I have two user accounts:

  • Clayton Cobb – I am in the Sharepoint Admins SG but not in Finance
  • SharePoint Tester – He is in the Finance SG but not in SharePoint Admins

I’ll start with SharePoint Tester being logged in (Fig 9) who will open a new browser form (Fig 10).

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Fig 9 – SharePoint Tester logged in

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Fig 10 – SharePoint Tester only sees the Finance section

After saving the file as the SharePoint Tester, I will now log in as myself (Fig 11) and open the existing form (Fig 12). 

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Fig 11 – Clayton Cobb logged in

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Fig 12 – My account only sees the Administrators section

**After it is all working, be sure to remove the repeating table from your form, or if you decide to show it for some reason, you may want to make that field read-only so that users can’t manually change it.

That’s all there is to it!  You can now leverage Active Directory distributon lists and security groups for providing a mock User Roles functionality in Browser Forms without writing any code and while maintaining Domain Trust. The key here is that when looking at the same form, two separate users will see different information that is available based on their group memberships in Active Directory.  Imagine the other ways you could leverage this by restricting individual controls, whole sections, or even entire views, which is very powerful!

Posted in InfoPath 2007, MOSS 2007 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 187 Comments »

Using [ME] to Filter InfoPath Form Views Based on Form Metadata

Posted by Clayton Cobb on June 29, 2009


This is something that I ran into a while ago where I couldn’t seem to promote a field from my form into an existing Person/Group column in my form library.  Even though the data in my field was correct (domain name or email address), I was unable to connect them due to the Publishing Wizard saying the data types don’t match.  This happens even if you use a Contact Selector that has the AccountID attribute – it won’t match.  So, I thought up using SharePoint Designer to pull the data from the promoted field in InfoPath and setting it as the value for an existing Person field.  Doing it this way will only allow domain name (domain\username) and email address, but it works like a charm.  Sure, you have a duplicate column with the same info, but you can just hide the promoted column from InfoPath in your View settings.  Here is an article that someone else already wrote that shows how to do this step-by-step.  I was going to write it, but someone beat me to it.  =)

Create Personal SharePoint Views depending on an InfoPath field using [Me]

One thing to be VERY CAREFUL of is that when you use an SPD workflow to update a field, this is taken as an edit to the record.  So, if your workflow is set to automatically run on edit of a record, then you will cause an infinite loop.  To beat this, you have to put a condition on the Set Field in Current Item action that states “If <InfoPath promoted field> is not equal to <SharePoint Person Field>” or something to that effect and have an Else statement that simply “Stops the Workflow”.  The problem is that the Person field consumes certain data (i.e. domain name) but displays other data depending on how the field is configured – the default is to show Name (with presence), which may cause the conditional statement not to work properly.  You want the condition to stop the workflow if the Person field in SharePoint has already been set with the CURRENT info in the InfoPath promoted field.  You can’t use the statement “If <SharePoint Person Field> is blank,” because the name may get changed in the form after creation.

Posted in InfoPath 2007, MOSS 2007, SPD 2007, Workflow | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

InfoPath – Get Manager Information

Posted by Clayton Cobb on June 21, 2009


This does not contain separate information, but I wanted it to show up for people doing searches while trying to figure out how to get Manager information from Active Directory.  I see this question a lot, and it is touched on in great detail in this blog entry:  InfoPath – Get user information without writing code (extended).  That entry contains additional info, so I just wanted to get this blog title out there for people to find.

Posted in InfoPath 2007, MOSS 2007 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »