Microsoft InfoPath is a program for creating, distributing, filling out, and submitting organized data electronic forms. InfoPath was originally included in the Microsoft Office 2003 suite. The product includes a WYSIWYG type designer, in which the various controls (such as text boxes, radio buttons, and checkboxes) are bound to data and displayed separately as a hierarchical tree view of folders and data fields.
On September 1, 2015, Microsoft made InfoPath 2013 available as a standalone download for the first time via its Download Center. Unlike previous versions of InfoPath, however, the standalone edition of InfoPath 2013 includes an active Office 365 Proclus subscription. This version of InfoPath 2013 has been revised to function with Office 2016, which does not include InfoPath. Office Forms, which is open to those with a Microsoft Account, is its indirect successor.
- To use InfoPath to fill out a form, a designer must first create an InfoPath prototype. One of its developers, Jean Paoli, claims that a key architectural design decision was “to follow the XML model of separating data from formatting in a document Adriana Neagu and Jean Paoli filed a patent in 2000 that defines the technology as follows: “XML authoring with DHTML views and XSLT.
- The “information source” stores all of the data in InfoPath forms in an XML format. The form prototype must have one primary data source for data submission and several secondary data sources for data retrieval. Secondary data sources may be integrated into the form or accessed from an external data link to SharePoint or a Web server. The InfoPath style template files are archived in the cabinet file format with the extension.
- InfoPath provides end-users with a variety of controls (text boxes, radio buttons, and checkboxes) to present data from the data source. “Repeating Table” and other repeating controls are added for data tables and secondary data sources. In the builder, you can also add template sections and ActiveX controls as custom controls.
- Actions (also known as “rules”) may be bound in for each of these controls. Formatting rules, such as covering or coloring a control, validation rules (e.g., only allow a nine-digit number), and action rules, such as setting a field’s value depending on other fields, are the three types of rules. A user behavior, such as clicking a button, or the evaluation of different conditions, such as field values, may also cause rules. “Set field ‘Total’ to 100 when field ‘field1’ is not blank,” for example, maybe a conditional rule.
- When hosted on SharePoint, InfoPath is used to create forms that capture data and save the contents as a file on a PC or on a web server.
- InfoPath allows you to access and view data from a variety of sources (web sites, XML, databases, and other forms), as well as create rich interactive behaviors using Rules, Conditions, and Actions. When accessing an InfoPath form hosted on SharePoint, the client must have InfoPath Filler or InfoPath Designer enabled, or the form must be viewed in a browser.
- InfoPath is more commonly used by businesses than by individuals because it is a communication tool that gathers data from several people in a standardized manner, and it needs either a SharePoint host or individual approved Filler copies to deploy. When using a plugin (hosted on SharePoint) or a third-party product, InfoPath forms can be accessed on mobile devices.
- The file must be submitted to a server running InfoPath Forms Services in order to run as a Web browser form. The benefit is that the client doesn’t need InfoPath; all they need is a Web browser. When the form is finished, it can be emailed or its fields can be directly applied to a SharePoint list.
- Integration with Microsoft SharePoint technology is a standard use of InfoPath. InfoPath types can be submitted to SharePoint lists and repositories, and submitted instances can be opened using InfoPath Filler or third-party software from within SharePoint. Alternatively, InfoPath Forms Services allows a browser-enabled InfoPath type to be hosted on a SharePoint installation and made as an HTML page with the client-side script and postback behaviors that are close to those of an ASP.NET page.
Author: Olivia Smith is a Microsoft Office expert and a full-time blogger with 5 years of experience in the technology industry. She has written technical blogs, white papers, and reviews for a variety of websites, including office.com/setup.