InfoPath 2003, Page 3
Publishing an InfoPath form
Once you've designed a form template, you need to save and/or publish it. You should note that clicking the Save button simply saves the form template to a file. You can return to the form template at any time and continue working on it. The form template is a standalone file that contains all the information necessary for another user to fill it out. Before we discuss the steps involved in publishing an InfoPath form, let us consider the structure of an InfoPath solution file.
InfoPath stores all template-related files in a compressed archive file called an InfoPath solution file that is saved with the file extension .xsn. The solution file contains manifest.xsf, which lists the other files the solution requires: .xml file (an empty form document), an .xsl file for producing each form view, and a .xsd file for the data source. The solution file also includes JScript or VBScript files, if form customization requires script and JScript is the default.
Selecting Publish displays the Publishing Wizard, which allows you to distribute the finished form to a centralized location, accessible by other users. You can publish a finished form to a number of places:
- A network share,
- A SharePoint controlled web site
- A virtual directory on a web server.
Once a form has been published, users can access the form directly from InfoPath (by selecting Fill Out a Form) or by simply browsing to the file in Windows Explorer or Microsoft Internet Explorer. When you browse to a form, InfoPath opens it in "fill out" mode and enables the user to enter data. While filling out the form, users also can save forms to the local drive and work on them in a disconnected manner and then submit data when reconnected. Users of a shared template can also store local XML snapshot copies of the forms they complete, send completed forms to others by e-mail, or export a read-only copy of the form as a single-file Web page in Microsoft MHT format. The e-mail version includes the form's XML file as an attachment. This feature enables recipients with InfoPath and network access to its template to edit the form. Users with client authentication certificates can apply digital signatures to the forms they complete, and others in the workflow chain can add their digital signatures to a form.
In this article, we have understood the architecture and features of InfoPath 2003 that can go a long way in revolutionizing the process of capturing business data. We have also had a look at the rich WYSIWYG editor that allows you to design rich dynamic forms. Finally we demonstrated how to retrieve data from SQL Server and bind it to a control present in the InfoPath form. In Part-2 of this article, we will see how to interact with an ASP.NET Web Service from an InfoPath form and retrieve and submit data to the web service.
The following is the source code for this two part article: InfoPath.zip - 52 kb.
About the Author
Thiru Thangarathinam has many years of experience in architecting, designing, developing and implementing applications using Object Oriented Application development methodologies. He also possesses a thorough understanding of software life cycle (design, development and testing). He is an expert with ASP.NET, .NET Framework, Visual C#.NET, Visual Basic.NET, ADO.NET, XML Web Services and .NET Remoting and holds MCAD for .NET, MCSD and MCP certifications. Thiru has authored numerous books and articles. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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