What's New for InfoPath Developers

Microsoft InfoPath 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 with InfoPath Forms Services have added many new features and improvements that are for developers. InfoPath Forms Services, which is available in SharePoint Server 2010, lets you deploy an InfoPath form template to a server so that users without InfoPath 2010 can open and fill out InfoPath forms by using a Web browser. Form templates created by using InfoPath 2010 continue to support business logic written against the classes and members of the Microsoft.Office.InfoPath namespace, which works the same way for a form opened in the InfoPath 2010 editor and in a form opened in a Web browser. By using business logic written to this managed object model, and by working with design checking features in InfoPath Designer 2010, you can create a single form template that you can deploy to an appropriately configured document library on SharePoint Server 2010, which will run in both the InfoPath editor and in a Web browser.

The following sections briefly describe these new features and improvements that are interesting to InfoPath developers:

  • Visual Studio Tools for Applications

  • SharePoint Sandboxed Solutions

  • Publish Forms with One Click

  • Enhance SharePoint List Forms

  • Create SharePoint Workflow Applications

  • Connect Forms with Line-of-Business Systems

  • Host Forms on Portal Pages using the InfoPath Form Web Part

  • Richer Web Forms

  • Standards Compliant Browser Forms

  • Provide Enhanced Information Security and Integrity with Digital Signatures

  • New Controls

InfoPath 2010 includes a lightweight version of the Microsoft Visual Studio integrated development environment, called Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Applications. You can use Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Applications to write business logic with managed code in C# or Visual Basic, which is then embedded in the InfoPath form template (.xsn) file. For information about how to use Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Applications, see How to: Install and Develop with Visual Studio Tools for Applications.

With InfoPath 2010, it is easier than ever to deploy forms with code to SharePoint Server 2010. In Office InfoPath 2007, all forms with code had to be approved and uploaded by a SharePoint farm administrator. With support for sandboxed solutions in SharePoint Server 2010 and SharePoint Foundation 2010, form designers that have site collection administration permissions can now publish most forms with code, directly to their SharePoint sites. A resource quota setting on the server limits excessive resource usage. The site collection administrator remains in control and makes trust decisions about the solution. The farm administrator can be hands-off. For more information about publishing InfoPath form templates as sandboxed solutions, see Publishing Forms with Code.

It’s now easier than ever to publish updates to your forms from InfoPath 2010. After the first time that you publish a form template, instead of clicking through several dialog boxes, you can complete this task with one click of the new Ouick Publish button, which is available on the Quick Access Toolbar, and in the new Microsoft Office Backstage, which is available by clicking the File tab.

Using InfoPath 2010, you can now extend and enhance the forms used for creating, editing and viewing items in a SharePoint list. By opening a list, clicking the List tab under List Tools, and then clicking Customize Form, you can quickly auto generate an InfoPath form which resembles the default, out-of-the-box SharePoint list form. You can then customize and enhance this form by modifying the layout, creating additional views, and adding rules and data validation in InfoPath 2010. When you are finished modifying your improved list form, you can publish it to SharePoint using InfoPath's new one-click publish feature.

Using InfoPath 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, and Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010, IT Professionals can easily create complex, collaborative workflow applications. As part of a workflow application, InfoPath 2010 forms can be deployed as part of an automated business process or workflow that includes routing and notification capabilities based on information within the form.

Custom InfoPath 2010 forms are also used in standard document workflows for entering data at the different workflow stages such as initiation and association.

InfoPath 2010 integrates with Microsoft Business Connectivity Services (BCS) enabling users to connect their organization's forms to important business data that is stored in external line-of-business systems such as SAP and Oracle. By using SharePoint Designer 2010, you can create custom InfoPath 2010 forms to create, read, update, and delete business data that is stored in an external list. For information about how to work with data from external lists in InfoPath forms see, How to: Customize External List Forms Using Microsoft InfoPath and How to: Embed an External Item Picker Control in an InfoPath Form in the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Software Development Kit (SDK).

In SharePoint Server 2010, it is easier than ever to host your forms on Web pages using the new InfoPath Form Web Part. In Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, users who want host their InfoPath forms on Web pages have to write code in Visual Studio. Now, without writing a single line of code, you can add the InfoPath Form Web Part to a Web Parts page and point it to your published form.You can use the InfoPath Form Web Part to host any InfoPath browser form that is published to a SharePoint list or form library. You can also connect it to other Web Parts on the page to send or receive data. For information about how to use the InfoPath Form Web Part, see Working with the InfoPath Form Web Part in the SharePoint 2010 SDK.

The feature gap between client and browser forms has been narrowed, creating a more consistent form filling experience for all users. Controls and functionality that are now supported in browser forms include the following:

  • Bulleted, numbered, and plain lists

  • Multiple selection list boxes

  • Combo boxes

  • Picture buttons

  • Hyperlink capabilities

  • Choice group and section

  • Date and time controls

  • Person/group pickers

  • Filtering functionality

InfoPath 2010 browser forms are now compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) AA, which enables form designers to create forms that are available to users who have disabilities.

InfoPath 2010 supports Cryptography Next Generation (CNG) digitally signed content. To help you ensure the integrity of the information that is contained in your forms, the InfoPath 2010 client and SharePoint Server 2010 provide the controls necessary to enable single, co-sign, and counter-sign scenarios for the full form or sections of the form. Forms can be signed in Internet Explorer using the ActiveX signature line control. Signed forms can be viewed in any browser supported by SharePoint Server 2010.

InfoPath 2010 provides a richer set of controls that can be added to your forms. The following list briefly describes some of the new controls that are available.

  • Picture Button Instead of a boring gray rectangle; use any image as a button in your form.

  • Hyperlink Enable users to enter their own hyperlinks when filling out forms.

  • Person/Group Picker Enable users to check and query account names and groups when filling out forms.

  • Entity Picker Enable users to select values from external lists on a server that is running SharePoint Foundation 2010 or SharePoint Server 2010 when filling out forms.

  • Signature Line Provide users with a signature line or stamp image, such as an inkan or hanko seal, when digitally signing forms.

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