Chris’s SharePoint Reflections

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  • Chris Zhong

    IT consultant Australia








Make your InfoPath investment worthwhile- Part2 Integrate InfoPath with SharePoint

Posted by chrissyz on October 10, 2008

 

Here’re a few popular places where you can employ InfoPath forms for enterprise content management in SharePoint Server 2007:

·         Form Library

One of the ways you can use InfoPath with SharePoint is by creating a Form library on your SharePoint site. The InfoPath form library is the main integration point between WSS and InfoPath. All the documents stored within it are based on a specific InfoPath form template.

Pros:

Ø  Quick form development (reference part 1)

Ø  Property promotion and demotion – Not get schema validated though

Ø  User has the flexibility of working with documents in their native client application or online through browser interface. Properties easily bound into document and visible/editable offline.

Ø  Lookup data can be brought from simple xml file to any LOB applications and databases.

Cons:

Ø  Direct communication from a web form to a database is not supported. If you want the forms data to be saved to a database, the InfoPath client has to be installed on your computer. Or you’d have to construct a web service, which InfoPath can use indirectly communicate with the database.

Ø  The data source for lookup can’t be cross domain

Ø  Form service is hard to deploy a standard dev-test- production promotion deployment in an automated fashion. It is almost impossible to automatically publish the forms to a different environment without manual process

  • Document Information Panel (DIP)

A document information panel is a form that is displayed within the client application, and contains fields for the document metadata. .

Pros:

Ø  Enable users to specify all the properties on a document at once, in one place, at any point when they are working without having to leave the Office client application

Ø  For SharePoint documents – 2007 Office client application auto generate the DIP based on the metadata schema of the content type assigned to the document

Ø  For document stored in WSS- the values are promoted back to the document library as columns. Users can edit document column values either at the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 document library level, or from within the Office system client application for the document

Ø  User can have same DIP template for multiple office applications

Ø  User can either create DIP through MOSS 2007 interface or through InfoPath Client

Cons:

Ø  Office 2007 only (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

Ø  InfoPath client need to be installed on the machine

Ø  DIP template with restricted security will not work. You have to provide Domain or Full Trust Security to DIP form template

Ø  Can have code behind DIP but the deployment process is not that straight forward

 

·         Workflow.

 Pros:

Ø  Browser enabled InfoPath form hosted in custom .aspx page

Ø  Custom workflow design in SPD or VSTO

Ø  Browser enabled view for mobile device

Ø  Driven by column value (Two way promotion, demotion)

Ø  Information Right Management. IRF protect for both form template and form content  (smart client only)

Ø  Digital Signature.

 Cons:

Ø  Hard to debug

Ø  Can’t handle very complex scenarios, need to incorporate with BizTalk

If you are putting together an enterprise content management solution in Office SharePoint Server, and you’d like your user to be able to interact with your custom forms in the client application and the browser, it might be worth your while to take a look at InfoPath 2007 and Office Forms Services.

 

 

 

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