Join David Rivers for an in-depth discussion in this video Introducing InfoPath 2007, part of InfoPath 2007 Essential Training.
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Just before we launch InfoPath 2007 and explore the user interface in this chapter, let's get better acquainted with the application itself. Exactly what is InfoPath 2007? Well, a simple definition is it's an information gathering program. It's also a part of the Microsoft Office 2007 system. So if you already happen to have Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 or you plan on upgrading to that suite of applications, you will be glad to know you have the InfoPath as well as some other useful applications that tie in nicely with InfoPath such as Microsoft Groove for example.
Now what is the best way these days for gathering information? Well, typically, it's designing and creating electronic forms and also making it easy to fill all of those forms. InfoPath lets you do both. And because it's XML based, gathering information and then sharing it and reusing it is also extremely easy to do. Since we are designing and using electronic forms in InfoPath, we can extend our reach to those inside and outside the organization because we can create e-mail forms that can simply be sent as an e- mail. We can create forms that will work on any web browser or even forms that can be filled out on a mobile device. Not only is an InfoPath form efficient, it also ensures the information you gather is reliable and accurate.
Now this can be accomplished by using things like form controls, pre-populated fields, real time validation, and by connecting to existing data sources. All this means the quality of the data you collect is going to be improved while helping to reduce redundant data entry. So let's talk about what's new in InfoPath 2007. There are some really nice new features that didn't exist in the previous version, which was InfoPath 2003. For example, you don't need to have the InfoPath installed on your computer just to fill out a form. With InfoPath 2003, you needed the application on your computer just to fill out an InfoPath form. That's not so anymore. You can create and send templates as e-mail messages in Outlook. We talked about that.
Also, if you have got InfoPath form services, you can create web-based forms and forms that can be used on those mobile devices we were talking about. Also new to version 2007 is the ability to import and export forms. If you have already created forms in Word or Excel, you don't need to redo those forms. Just bring them into InfoPath and work on them there. Importing is very easy, so is exporting forms if you got the add-ins to export to PDF, Portable Document Format, or the XML format known as XPS. You do need those add-ins.
You are prompted to do that when you go to export. So, all very easy to do, but just another nice new feature. Also there are more views now in version 2007, such as the Read Only view to prevent manipulation of content. For example, you might just want people to view the data like a report. There is printed views that let you choose which views of a form can be printed and in what order. And then there are targeted views as well and they can be created for different environments. For example, you could create one view for those filling out forms in InfoPath, another for those filling out forms in a web browser. Also new in Version 2007, new and improved controls. Let's talk about Combo Boxes.
Now you cannot just select from a list, but you can add to that list using a Combo Box. There is the Multiple Selection List Box as well that we are going to be looking at later. Let's you select more than one item from the list. Horizontal regions and repeating tables allows you to resize areas when the form is resized. It all happens automatically. You can have two areas side by side. Expand or Shrink down the form. They expand and shrink with the form. And with the horizontal repeating tables, you are going to be able to allow users to add more than one column when they are filling out a form. That's a nice feature. You can also create your own reusable form parts now to keep look and the behavior of a group of forms consistent. These are called Custom Form Parts.
There is also the Design Checker. The Design Checker task pane detects potential design issues that may be present in a template that you are designing and gives you detailed explanations before you have to go ahead and save and publish your form. And there is a whole lot more in 2007 like more sample forms to choose from. There is better integration with SharePoint, better offline options for when you can't be connected. There is the Information Rights Management support that's part of 2007, now to help you keep sensitive data protected. And more options for printing and previewing forms as well. You will lots of these new features as we move through the chapters and the movies in this title.
First part of this title will focus on the creation of the forms, beginning with the basics and then getting more advanced as we move on. Once we are totally comfortable with designing our forms, we will explore the other side of using electronic forms and that's the various ways we can collect and store that data. We talk about connecting to servers including SharePoint integration. We can also of course turn our forms into e-mail messages to gather information. We will be doing that. And we will explore how we can make use of the web for collecting data from outside the organization. That's all coming up. And in the next lesson, we will launch the application.
- Building a form from samples or creating a brand-new form from scratch Inserting a repeating table into an existing form Adding and modifying buttons to simplify form functions Creating specialized views in a single form for different users Connecting newly created forms to SharePoint Customizing the work environment to improve form efficiency