Clayton's SharePoint Madness

All About SharePoint, InfoPath, and SharePoint Designer!

Posts Tagged ‘browser forms’

Auto-Generating Filenames for InfoPath Forms

Posted by Clayton Cobb on June 20, 2009

Auto-Generating Filenames for InfoPath Forms – I see this topic come up a LOT on forums all over the place, so instead of continuing to answer the question time and time again, I am going to post a quick blog entry showing the steps. I think this stuff is fairly simple, but it just doesn’t pop into your head initially. Once you see it and understand it, you’ll think it’s simple, too. Keep in mind that I focus entirely on SharePoint-based InfoPath forms and for the most part BROWSER-ENABLED forms. So, it’s possible and likely that all concepts explained here will work for non-browser forms and non-SharePoint forms, but just remember that my perspective is mostly browser-enabled. The basis for this topic is that the standard method for submitting InfoPath browser-enabled forms is for the user to click Save at which point the user is prompted to give a filename along with choosing to allow overwrite. I really dislike this feature, because users have no concept of proper naming convention for the most part, and there’s no way to guarantee they create a unique or meaningful filename. I also just don’t like the user getting prompted. I prefer for the user to just click a button that saves the file to SharePoint with a dynamically-defined filename, closes the form, and takes the user back to the forms library. Ok, so how do we do ensure these few things:

  • The filename must be unique
  • The filename must persist through subsequent edits of the form without the user having to do anything
  • The built-in toolbar buttons must be hidden
  • A custom button must be created to do it all

Here are the steps:

  1. Create the field for storing the filename
  2. Create the Submit data connection that uses this field
  3. Disable the browser-based toolbar functions
  4. Create the custom submit button

Create a hidden field for storing filename

Create a strFilename field (Text). Do not set any conditional formatting, rules, or data validation on this. Add it to the canvas for now and make it read-only (Fig 1). This will be visible for testing purposes only.


Fig 1 – Create hidden field named strFilename

Create a Submit data connection that uses the strFilename field for dynamically creating the filename

Create a SUBMIT data connection in your form template that connects to the Form Library where the form resides. Put in the URL of your Form Library for the “Document Library” field, and choose the strFilename data element for “File name” field by using the fx button. Check the box for “Allow overwrite if file exists” (Fig 2).

Fig 2 – Creating the Submit data connection for the Form Library

Disable toolbar options

Click Tools > Form Options > Browser. Uncheck Save, and Save As (Fig 3). Submit should be grayed since it has not been configured. If it has been configured, be sure it is unchecked. Update should be unchecked by default, so leave it. I personally uncheck “Views,” since I use views to dynamically route people to certain information based off their identity or the form’s workflow status, but it’s up to you. If your form is not browser-enabled, use the Open and Save menu in Form Options to uncheck Save and Save As.

Fig 3 – Disabling toolbar functions for Browser-Enabled Forms

 Create the custom Submit button

Drag a button control to your canvas and double-click it to get to its properties. Change the display name to “Submit” or whatever you prefer, then click Rules. You want to add two rules, each with one condition (Fig 4).

Fig 4 – Custom Submit button with two rules

The first rule allows you to Edit the existing form without changing strFilename, then close it (Fig 5).

  • Set a condition rule to have one condition stating that strFilename is not blank.
  • Add two actions in this order:
    • Submit to your SharePoint Library Submit data connection
    • Close

Fig 5 – Editing the form with the submit data connection

Here, we are simply submitting the form back to the library in a manner that will not change any metadata and will overwrite the existing file of the same name.  This is the whole reason for the strFilename field.  We do not want the strFilename to be recreated each time the form is edited.  This rule is placed before the Submit rule for the same reason as stated above.  We need to check first to see if the form has already been submitted.  If so, then we submit using the current strFilename.  If not, then we skip this rule.

The second rules will Submit the current form only if it is brand new and after dynamically creating the strFilename, then it closes the form.

  • Set a condition rule to have one condition stating that strFilename is blank.
  • Add three actions in this order:
    • Set the Value of strFilename (Fig 6) to the concatenated string combining userName() with now().  The formula is concat(userName(), now()).  The Xpath is concat(xdUser:get-UserName(), xdDate:Now()).  Note: I add a text hyphen in the middle to make it a little easier to read, but that’s up to your discretion.
    • Submit to your SharePoint Library Submit data connection
    • Close

Fig 6 – Setting the dynamic filename prior to submission

Here, we are submitting the form to the form library for the first time.  This is why we first dynamically create the strFilename, because the Submit data connection uses this field to create the filename in SharePoint.  We only want to do this step upon first submission, so that is why this rule only runs if the strFilename is blank.  Doing this rule last keeps us from double-submitting, because the Edit rule would run right after the Submit rule due to its condition being met (strFilename is not blank).  You can of course choose any concatenation formula you want as long as it is unique.  This particular formula can only create a non-unique filename if the same user submits two separates forms (two browser forms open simultaneously) at the same EXACT second.

Publish your form to a new form library, and set that library to Display in Browser (Advanced Settings).  Click New to create a new form (Fig 7)



Fig 7 – A new form before submission

Click submit, and it should take you back to the library with no prompts or delays.  You will see a new form with a unique filename (Fig 8).  The now() function gives the date AND time separate by the letter “T.”


 Fig 8 – Newly-created form has unique filename

Click on that new form and notice that the strFilename field has been populated with the same info you saw for the filename in the library (Fig 9).  This field is actually populated FIRST when you submit, because it forms the basis for the filename in the Submit data connection.  Click submit again and notice that the existing file has been changed rather than a new file being created.


Fig 9 – strFilename field is populated with the dynamic, unique filename

Reference links for related articles:

InfoPath Submit Error- A value in the form may be used to specify the file name – You may be getting this error.   This blog post helps explain why, and my blog post helps explain how to overcome it.

Posted in InfoPath 2007, MOSS 2007 | Tagged: , , , , , | 171 Comments »

User Roles in Browser-Enabled InfoPath Forms Using Contacts List

Posted by Clayton Cobb on June 14, 2009

MAJOR REVISION that uses the GetCommonMemberships web method to determine group memberships for users without needing to use contact lists or any other manual data source!

InfoPath – User Roles in Browser-Enabled Forms Using Groups

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.

Here is an outline of the steps with the assumption that you already have a working, browser-enabled form:

  1. Contacts List
  2. Add GetUserProfileByName data connection to your form template if not already using it
  3. Add necessary fields to form template and configure them
  4. Add conditional formatting to applicable controls

Contacts List

In this solution, the Contacts list will provide the groupings of users for your “roles” within the form..  Here are the steps:

  • Create a new Contacts List
  • Click Actions > Connect to Outlook (this step only for Office 2007/IE 6-8 users) – Fig 1
  • Populate users from Global Address Book (or manually) – Fig 2 and 3
  • Add any extra columns for sub-grouping of users (i.e. Department) 

Fig 1 – Connecting to Outlook

Fig 2 – Add Contact from Global Address Book in Outlook

Fig 3 – Copy local Contacts to Synchronized SharePoint Contact List

 Fig 4 – Final View of Contacts List Synchronized with Outlook

What we have done is used Outlook 2007’s two-way  integration with SharePoint to ensure that our contact information in the SP Contacts List is exactly the same as what is in Active Directory, and since our profile import in this scenario is pulling from Active Directory, then our user information should all be synchronized.  Notice that I’ve added a Department column to the Contacts list, because this info is in AD, the GAL, and in the SP profile database. Note: other data has been removed but would usually be seen here (email address, phone #, etc).

User Profile Service – GetUserProfileByName method

Now 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.

Add Necessary Fields to Form Template and Configure Them

First, create two basic text fields in your main data source: strCurrentUserEmail and strCurrentUserDepartment.  Next, drag two section controls to your canvas, and drag both text fields from above (Fig 5).

 Fig 5 – Sample Form Template

Next, we need to get those fields populated with the proper information for only the current user, which means each subsequent user who opens the form will make the data in these fields change accordingly.

strCurrentUserEmail – Tools > Form Options > Open and Save > Rules.  Add an action that sets the strCurrentUserEmail field to the WorkEmail value of the GetUserProfileByName data connection using the later steps from Itay’s writeup.  It should look like this (Fig 6).


Fig 6 – Setting field to WorkEmail value

What this does is pull the WorkEmail value from the profile database for the user who just opened the form and puts that email address in our designated field.  We could get this same value using the Default value function button on that field, but this would set the value once for the initial submitter and never change.  I leverage this notion in another field named strSubmitterEmail so that I can also check to see if the current user is the original submitter.

strCurrentUserDepartment – Tools > Form Options > Open and Save > Rules.  Add an action that sets the strCurrentUserDepartment field to the Department value of the GetUserProfileByName data connection the same way you did the previous step for WorkEmail. Note: You can add this action to the existing rule for email.

What this does is automatically pull the department of the current user and put it in the designated field.

Add Conditional Formatting to Applicable Controls

grpIT – Double-click this control on the canvas to get to its properties.  Click Display > Conditional Formatting.  Add a condition with two caveats.  The first will check the contact list against the current user.  The 2nd will check the contact list against the current user’s department.

  • After clicking Add, click “Select a field or group” in the first dropdown.  Change the data source to your Contact List, drill down to the data elements, click on E-mail_Address, and select “All occurrences of E-mail_Address” in the bottom dropdown (most people never notice this – Fig 7).


Fig 7 – Choosing All occurrences of a data connection field

For the operand, choose “are not equal to”, and for the last box, choose “Select a field or Group” again.  From your main data source, select strCurrentUserEmail

  • Click the “And” button on the right to add another caveat to the condition.  In this one, select strCurrentUserDepartment from your main data source in the first dropdown, “is not equal to” for the operand, and the text “IT” in the last dropdown.  Be sure to change the “and” on the right to an “or,” and lastly check the box for “Hide this control.”  It should look just like Figure 8.  

Fig 8 – Conditional formatting to hide sections from unintended users

What we are essentially doing is checking to see if the current user is in the overall list of approved users, and then we are breaking it down further to see what department that person is in.  If the current user is not in that list, then the section is hidden.  If the person is in the list but not in the specified department, then the section is hidden.  An alternative way to do the department filter is to make separate contact lists for each sub-group.  If you do it that way, it requires more lists and more maintenance, but it allows you to assign a regular user as the owner of his/her respective list in order to maintain it (removes the burden from us).  If you use one list with sub-categories, then you can’t as easily hand the maintenance over to regular users.

grpFinance – Do the same steps for this section as you did for grpIT except change the text “IT” to “Finance.”  Note: Be sure that the text you type in situations like this is EXACTLY the same as what Active Directory shows.  IT is not the same as it and Finance is not the same as finance.

Here is the final result.  If you reference Figure 4 above, you will see that my department is shown as Finance… 

Fig 9 – Finance user only sees the Finance section

Fig 10 – Manually changed Department to IT (demonstration purposes only)

Fig 11 – IT user only sees the IT section


Fig 12 – Log in as SharePoint Tester account

Fig 13 – SharePoint Tester not in Contacts list and sees nothing

**After it is all working, be sure to remove the text boxes from your form for strCurrentUserEmail and strCurrentUserDepartment, because they are only in this example for testing purposes.  You want to make sure you can see the data that is being put in there during testing.  Once it works, remove those text boxes, or if you want to show them, then make them read-only.

This is my first attempt at any blog post, so please feel free to critique and comment on any errors, bugs, typos, mistakes, fixes, questions, or confusions you may think of…

Posted in InfoPath 2007, MOSS 2007 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments »