What's New in InfoPath Forms Services
Published: May 2010
Microsoft InfoPath 2010 is a forms-creation and data-gathering tool that helps organizations streamline business processes. InfoPath 2010 is designed for both advanced business users and developers, depending on the kind of forms-based solution a user or organization needs. Without writing code, advanced business users can use InfoPath 2010 to design sophisticated electronic forms to quickly and cost-effectively gather information. By using InfoPath 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 with InfoPath Forms Services, and Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010, developers can create advanced forms for departmental and enterprise business processes that include composite applications and workflow sequences using little or no code. Forms can be filled out in a Web browser or in the InfoPath 2010 editor.
Some key investments have been made in InfoPath 2010 and InfoPath Forms Services to make it much easier to build rich forms-based solutions on the SharePoint Server 2010 platform.
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 looks similar to 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.
For more information about enhancing SharePoint list forms, see Customize a SharePoint list form.
It is 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 perform this task with one click of the new Quick Publish button which is available on the Quick Access Toolbar and in the new Microsoft Office Backstage.
In Microsoft Office 2010, users can take their SharePoint lists and libraries offline in Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010. The InfoPath 2010 editor is hosted inside SharePoint Workspace and is used for viewing and entering data in all offline SharePoint forms. Information entered in the forms is automatically synchronized when the user is back online.
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 more information about working 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 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 whom want to 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 more information about the InfoPath Form Web Part see, Working with the InfoPath Form Web Part.
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 can now publish forms with code, within a limited set of permissions, directly to their SharePoint sites. A resource quota 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.
The feature gap between client and browser forms was narrowed, ensuring 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
Choice group and section
Date and time controls
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.
SharePoint Server 2010 now includes Windows PowerShell cmdlets that work with InfoPath Forms Services. By using Windows PowerShell cmdlets for SharePoint, you can save time by easily creating scripts to automate recurring InfoPath Forms Services operations. This makes it easy to perform tasks such as activating a form template on several site collections. An easy way to list all cmdlets that apply to InfoPath Forms Services is to run the following command:
Get-Command *SPInfoPath* | Name, Definition
For more information about how to work with Windows PowerShell cmdlets for SharePoint, see Windows PowerShell in the SharePoint Management Shell.
SharePoint Server 2010 can now backup and restore additional items in the SharePoint configuration database. This enables you to back up and restore the administrator-approved forms templates and data connection files for your InfoPath solutions. Form templates and data connection files that are not administrator-approved are also stored in the content database, so as in Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, these files continue to be backed up and restored as part of the content database backup process. Backup and restore can be executed from Central Administration by going to Farm Backup and Restore, and then to Perform a Backup.
SharePoint Foundation 2010 includes an integrated health analysis tool named SharePoint Maintenance Manager that automatically checks for potential configuration, performance, and usage problems. SharePoint Server 2010 includes rules to check for issues with InfoPath Forms Services. Additionally, the SharePoint Server 2010 Management Pack includes rules and monitors for monitoring issues with InfoPath Forms Services by using Microsoft System Center Operations Manager.