How to: Work with Digital Signatures

Office 2013 and later

Last modified: June 28, 2011

Applies to: InfoPath 2013 | InfoPath Forms Services | Office 2013 | SharePoint Server 2013

In this article
Digital Signature Features
Overview of the Digital Signatures Object Model
Working with Digital Signatures Programmatically

The object model of the Microsoft.Office.InfoPath namespace provides features for working with digital signatures programmatically.

The digital signatures features provided by InfoPath enable you to:

  • Enable signatures for the entire form, or for specific sets of data in the form that can be signed separately.

  • Specify, for each set of data that can be signed, whether a single signature or multiple signatures are allowed and what their relationship will be. For example, you can specify whether they are parallel co-signatures or whether each new signature countersigns all the earlier signatures.

  • Specify a message to be shown to form users as they sign the form.

  • Insert and see a signature in the document.

  • View verifiable non-repudiation information that has been added to each signature for increased security. This additional information, which includes a view of the form as it was presented to each signer, is part of the signature and cannot be removed without invalidating the signature. At any time, you can recall this data by clicking on the signature in the form to display the Verify Digital Signature dialog box.

  • Take advantage of an object model for working with digital signatures. Add custom information to the signature block in fully trusted forms through the digital signature object model.

The Sign Event

The object model for digital signatures provides the following event.




Occurs after a set of data has been selected to sign.

You can use this event to manipulate the data stored within the digital signature. For example, you can add data from a trusted timestamp server, or add a server-side countersignature of the transaction. You can also use this event to block signing if the current user is not a member of a particular group.

The SignEventArgs Object

An event handler for the Sign event can work with the SignEventArgs event object, which provides the following properties.




Gets the set of data that raised the Sign event.


Gets or sets whether to display the Digital Signatures dialog box.

Note Note

In the Microsoft.Office.Interop.InfoPath.SemiTrust managed code object model that shipped with InfoPath 2003, the SignEvent event object for the OnSign event provides an XDocument property for accessing the XDocument object of the form associated with the event. This is not necessary with form templates created with InfoPath Forms Services or InfoPath using the Microsoft.Office.InfoPath object model because the object model members of the XmlForm class can be accessed in form code using the this (C#) or Me (Visual Basic) keyword. For example, to access the Signed property of the XmlForm class to determine if a form is signed, you can type either this.Signed or Me.Signed.

Collections and Objects

The object model for digital signatures provides the following collections.




The collection of the SignedDataBlock objects in the form template as defined at design time in InfoPath design mode.

The SignedDataBlockCollection collection implements properties that can be used to access the SignedDataBlock objects associated with a form. The SignedDataBlockCollection object associated with a form is accessible through the SignedDataBlocks property of the XmlForm class.


Contains a collection of Signature objects for each SignedDataBlock object in the form.

The SignatureCollection class implements properties and a method that can be used to access a form's associated Signature objects and to create a signature. The SignatureCollection object associated with a SignedDataBlock is accessible using the Signatures property.

When you use the CreateSignature method of the SignatureCollection class, keep in mind that the signature is not written until the Sign method is called on the Signature object. These methods can be called only from the Sign event handler of a fully trusted form template.

The object model for digital signatures provides the following objects.




Represents a set of signable data in a form. The SignedDataBlock object provides a number of properties and one method that can be used to programmatically interact with a set of signable data.


Represents a digital signature that has been added to a form or set of signable data in a form. The Signature object implements properties that can be used to retrieve information about the digital signature, and the Sign method for writing the XML digital signature block and computing its cryptographic hash value.


Represents the X.509 digital certificate that has been used to create the signature.

The object model of the Microsoft.Office.InfoPath namespace provides members for interacting with digital signatures programmatically. In particular, fully-trusted forms can add custom information to the signature block before it is committed, according to the following timeline:

  1. User chooses to add a digital signature to a form.

  2. The Digital Signatures dialog box is displayed, the user clicks Add, and then selects the data to sign.

  3. The Sign event for the selected data represented by the SignedDataBlock object is raised, and the Sign() method of SignedDataBlock object and the CreateSignature method of the SignatureCollection collection are executed.

  4. Any optional custom actions are executed.

  5. The Sign() method of the Signature object is executed.

  6. The Sign dialog box is displayed for typing a name (or selecting a signature image), selecting a certificate to sign with, and to enter comments.

  7. When the Sign button is clicked, the signature is added to the collection of signatures for the form and the non-repudiation information is captured and saved with the signature (which can be viewed later by clicking View Signed Form on the Digital Signatures dialog box, and then clicking See the additional signing information that was collected).

The following example invokes the Sign() method when the user signs the selected data and countersigns the signature with a timestamp value retrieved from a trusted timestamp service.

public void FormEvents_Sign(object sender, SignEventArgs e)
   // Add a new Signature object to the SignedDataBlockCollection.
   Signature thisSignature = 

   // Write the XML digital signature block and compute hash
   // for signed data.

   // Countersign the signature with a trusted timestamp.

   // Get the XML node storing the signature block.
   XPathNavigator oNodeSig = thisSignature.SignatureBlockXmlNode;
   XPathNavigator oNodeSigValue = 

   // Get timestamp from a trusted timestamp service (fictitious).
   MyTrustedTimeStampService s = new MyTrustedTimeStampService();
   string strVerifiedTimeStamp = s.AddTimeStamp(oNodeSigValue.Value);

   // Add the value returned from the timestamp service to the 
   // unsigned part of the signature block.
   XPathNavigator oNodeObj = 
   XPathNavigator oNode = oNodeObj.Clone();

   e.SignatureWizard = false;