InfoPath templates can be used for functions as simple as adding email addresses to a distribution list, or as involved as applying for insurance or ordering parts from inventory. This article explains how to create InfoPath forms, and includes downloadable InfoPath templates. As one of the co-creators of InfoPath, I’d like to share my all my simple to advanced Infopath templates with anyone still trying to thrive using InfoPath software that Microsoft sunsetted.
Inside this article:
InfoPath consists of three parts:
You create templates in InfoPath Designer. The Designer UI lets you create forms without coding.
Forms creators can add titles, text boxes, lists, and even information pulled from other sources (products in a database can populate a dropdown list for an order form, for example). There are also date pickers and boxes to upload files, among others. For a list of available controls, see the FAQ section.
Creators can also add logic and rules to the form so that the form will react to how the user interacts with it. For example:
Before designing InfoPath forms creators should consider design choices including:
When complete, the template will contain information that will drive the appearance and function of the form, including:
Another way to look at this is that templates have three layers. The data layer deals with both information that’s pulled from other sources entered into a form. The presentation layer manages how the form appears, including the layout, fonts, and colors. And the logic layer contains rules and business logic that drive how the form acts (such as how the InfoPath form responds based on user-initiated triggers).
Adriana Neagu is one of the founders of Formotus. She was part of the team at Microsoft that created InfoPath. Her thoughts on best practices can help creators get more out of their forms.
Naming Items: “Make sure that when you create new fields in the form, you name those fields with how they are used instead of leaving the default names like field one, field two, field three. If it’s a first name, call the field first name. ”
Form Testing: “As you build a form, test it immediately to see that what you’ve done is what you were planning to do, instead of doing a whole bunch of stuff and then testing it at the very end, because that will help you figure out any rules that are not working as expected. In InfoPath, you just click on the preview button to do that.”
Form Versioning: “Save the form with different names as you work on it because at some point the form may become too complex. It’s harder to revert back and having a copy on your hard drive where the previous version is may be a faster way to recover than trying to undo things.”
Taking Advantage of Views: “Views are a feature that can be used for multiple scenarios. Giving each user a view of their own is an example.
But views are like pages that you scroll through where you can have a very complex form that requires the user to enter or review quite a bit of information. You go to page 1, then you go to page 2, and the view guides the user through the data entry or review process.
A third scenario for views is where you’re actually showing the same data, but in a different way. For example, you can have a form where you enter data in two or three different views and at the end you have a summary view that shows you the highlights of what you entered. Another scenario for views is to have a menu on the first page; it’s like a spoked type of navigation. You have the menu on the first page and then just have buttons that take you to different parts of the form and you come back to the main menu when you want to go to a different part.”
InfoPath includes robust security options that protect where data displayed in the form is pulled from.
What’s an Access Path?
The Access Path is the identified location of the form template. When a form is saved or published on a server, that server is the default Access Path. When a form is opened, it looks at the Access Path location for the template.
What’s a Form ID?
Each form has a Form ID. It’s a unique for each form and links it to the template that it was created from via processing instructions.
Signed Form Templates
A template is considered signed if it has a digital signature certificate attached. This certificate will help ensure that the template hasn’t been altered. When a template is signed, the form template can open with Full Trust security and there won’t be a cache conflict message if the form is moved to a new location
Once a template is created and saved, it needs to be published (saving it does not automatically make it available for users). Publishing takes a few steps, and involves addressing a few options.
The InfoPath publishing wizard will walk you through the steps to get your template published.
Sometimes a template will need to have administrator approval before it can be published to a, InfoPath Forms Services server. This will occur when:
When editing an existing form template, the same best practices apply. But form creators need to be aware that there are some changes that can cause previously-saved data to be lost. Those changes are:
Once the template has been edited, it needs to be republished for the new version to be accessible.
Microsoft built SharePoint and InfoPath to work together. Our InfoPath expert Adriana Neagu recommends taking advantage of the SharePoint connection:
“InfoPath has very reliable data connectors with SharePoint, so using SharePoint as your backend will make things easy. You can leverage SharePoint further to move data to SAP or another backend; going through SharePoint makes it easier to build the form and to have data submitted.”
Beyond that, storing data in SharePoint lists and your forms in SharePoint document libraries has these advantages:
The InfoPath templates below can be downloaded and modified for many uses.
What are the supporting files for an InfoPath template?
The template is stored in a file with the extension .xsn, which references several support files. Those are:
InfoPath Experts can update the supporting files to update the template. To view these files, take the following steps:
What InfoPath controls and features are available to be used in a template?
What controls and features are supported by both InfoPath and InfoPath Forms Services?
What controls and features are not supported by InfoPath Forms Services?
Function or controls that are not supported or partially supported:
InfoPath controls and features that don’t have a parallel on InfoPath Services:
XML, or Extensible Markup Language, is a data standard that is used by InfoPath forms to encode and store the data in a format that’s readable by both computers and people.
How do I tell the difference between a template and a form?
InfoPath templates will have the file extension .xsn, while the forms themselves have the file extension .xml
What’s the past and future of InfoPath?
There have been four major versions of InfoPath: 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013. There will be no more major releases as Microsoft is phasing out the product and replacing it with a product called PowerApps. However, InfoPath will be supported through 2026.
Formotus offers a path forward for your InfoPath forms. You can keep using your InfoPath forms as long as you like or you can gradually transition away from InfoPath and move to the Formotus creator. Both versions of your forms will run in the same Formotus mobile client apps. Check out these Formotus creator versions of the InfoPath out-of-the-box forms. [NOTE: You will need to download the Formotus Now app from your device’s app store: Windows, iOS, Android to view these forms.] These Formotus creator form templates are available when you open a Formotus free trial account.
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