||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (March 2010)|
Screenshot of Microsoft InfoPath 2013 running on Windows 7
|Stable release||2013 (15.0.4420.1017) / October 2, 2012|
|Operating system||Windows Vista and later|
Microsoft InfoPath is a software application for designing, distributing, filling and submitting electronic forms containing structured data. According to one of its inventors, a key architectural design decision was "to adhere to the XML paradigm of separating the data in a document from the formatting." Thus the product features a WYSIWYG form design area in which the various controls (dropdowns, text boxes, etc.) are bound to data fields represented separately as a hierarchical tree view of folders and data fields. A patent filed in 2000 by Adriana Neagu, Jean Paoli and others describes the technology as "authoring XML using DHTML views and XSLT."
Microsoft initially released InfoPath as part of Microsoft Office 2003 family. In summer 2010, Microsoft released a new version that split InfoPath into two applications: InfoPath Designer 2010 is used to create forms and define data structures, and InfoPath Filler 2010 is used to fill out and submit forms.
InfoPath as a Microsoft Office product features a different usage-scenario from the other Office applications, such as Word and Excel. In order to use InfoPath to fill in a form, a user must have a designer develop an InfoPath template first.
All the data stored in InfoPath forms are stored in an XML format, which is referred to as the "data source". The form template must have one primary data source for submitting data and can have multiple secondary data sources for retrieving data into the form. Secondary data sources can be built into the form or they can be accessed through an external data connection to SharePoint or a Web service.
InfoPath provides several controls (e.g. Textbox, Radio Button, Checkbox, etc.) to present data in the data source to end-users. For data tables and secondary data sources, "Repeating Table" and other repeating controls are introduced. Template parts and ActiveX controls can also be added as custom controls in the designer.
For each of these controls, actions (called "rules") can be bound in. Rules come in three types: formatting rules such as hiding or coloring a control, validation rules (e.g. allow only a nine-digit number), and action rules such as setting a field's value based on other fields. Rules can be triggered either by a user action such as clicking a button or by the evaluation of various conditions such as field values. For example, a conditional rule could be: "Set field 'Total' to 100 when field 'field1' is not blank".
- Rules apply specific actions when triggered by button clicks or changing values in the form. They can change the values of fields in the data source, submit to and query databases, display messages, open and close forms, and switch to different views of the form.
- Data Validation tests the validity of input into fields by comparing the input to patterns, checking for the correct data type (such as a string or an integer), and in other customizable ways.
- Conditional Formatting can be used to change the appearance or visibility of objects based on values in the form.
- InfoPath has many different ActiveX Controls, all of which have a value bound to a field in the form's data source. Common controls include list boxes, radio buttons, text boxes, buttons, and check boxes. Info Path also uses controls such as Calculated Values, which display the result of xPath expressions, and sections, which are containers for other controls. InfoPath also includes repeating fields and sections, which can store many different values.
- XPath Expressions and Functions can be used to calculate values by applying functions to the value of fields in the form, such as "
concat(string(field1 + field2), "#;", field3)" (the concatenation of the sum of two fields, the string "#;", and the value of another field). XPath functions for manipulation of strings, simple mathematical operations, and many other operations are included in InfoPath. In addition, data can be filtered (select individual values from a repeating field or database).
- InfoPath supports Connections to External Datasources. SQL, Microsoft Access, and SharePoint databases can be connected to and submitted in the form.
- JScript, Visual Basic, C#, and other languages can be used to extend InfoPath's capabilities by adding custom HTML taskpanes, iterating through data, using Active Directory, and generally accomplishing tasks that are impossible in the InfoPath design environment.
- SharePoint integration (see Integration with SharePoint).
- User Roles can customize a user's experience by changing views or using conditional formatting based on the identity of the user.
- InfoPath's formatting capabilities and user interface are similar to Microsoft Word 2003 and 2010, depending on version.
InfoPath is used to create forms to capture information and save the contents as a file on a PC or on a web server when hosted on SharePoint. InfoPath can be used to access and display data from divergent sources (web services, XML, databases, other forms) and have rich interactive behaviors based on Rules, Conditions and Actions. An InfoPath form requires the client to have InfoPath Filler or InfoPath Designer installed, or by viewing the form in a browser when hosted on SharePoint. InfoPath is mostly used in business rather than by individuals, as it is a collaboration tool used to gather data from multiple individuals in a structured method, and to deploy requires either a SharePoint host and/or individual licensed Filler copies. InfoPath forms can be viewed on mobile devices if viewed from a browser (hosted on SharePoint) or by using a third-party product.
To run as a Web browser form, the file needs to be uploaded to a server running InfoPath Forms Services. The advantage of this is the client doesn't need InfoPath, just a Web browser. The form can then be set up to be e-mailed when completed or its fields can be added directly to a SharePoint list.
One common use of InfoPath is to integrate it with Microsoft SharePoint technology. InfoPath forms can submit to SharePoint lists and libraries, and submitted instances can be opened from SharePoint using InfoPath Filler or third-party products. Alternatively InfoPath Forms Services enables a browser-enabled InfoPath form to be hosted on a SharePoint installation and rendered as an HTML page with client-side script and post back behaviors similar to an ASP.NET page.
In SharePoint, a "Form Library" is a document library having an InfoPath template as the designated document type. InfoPath fields can be promoted when publishing to SharePoint so they can be read and displayed as a "Column" data in a library View. As with other SharePoint documents, InfoPath forms can have workflows associated with them that can access the promoted fields.
|Version||Included in...||Release date|
|InfoPath 2003||Microsoft Office 2003 Professional and Professional Enterprise||November 19, 2003|
|InfoPath 2007||Microsoft Office 2007 Ultimate, Professional Plus and Enterprise||January 27, 2007|
|InfoPath 2010||Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus; Office 365||July 15, 2010|
|InfoPath 2013||Microsoft Office 2013 Professional Plus; Office 365||January 29, 2013|
- "Jean Paoli on Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 - InfoPath - Office.com". Office.microsoft.com. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- "United States Patent: 7191394". Patft.uspto.gov. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- "Microsoft InfoPath Life-cycle Information". Retrieved 2011-10-25.