1: Introduction to InfoPath 2007 in .NET

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1: Introduction to InfoPath 2007
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Technologies encompassing XML include Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) for transforming the XML to another format such as HTML, XML Path Language (XPath) for selecting speci c parts of the XML data for processing, and XSD for de ning precise rules for how the XML structure and data should look InfoPath seamlessly incorporates each of these technologies into the experience of designing and lling out forms For example, thanks to XSLT, one of the most important bene ts of using InfoPath is the ability to separate data from how it is displayed With the drag-and-drop UI of the InfoPath design mode, you can completely change the look-and-feel of a form without changing the underlying data that is saved when a user lls it out Another advantage is being able to merge data from multiple forms This is especially useful when creating a report, for example As we mentioned, InfoPath offers a plethora of built-in features geared toward collecting data that would require custom code in other form design tools With InfoPath, for example, you can use data validation and conditional formatting to ensure that users enter valid data before the form is submitted to your back-end databases or Web services You can also design your forms to collect only the data you need Traditional forms include many parts that don t apply to everyone For example, employment applications often contain sections relevant only to people with college degrees However, these forms have to include sections for this information since the forms are static by nature These forms may contain instructional text such as If you chose Yes for question 5, please enter more information here Otherwise, skip to question 6 With InfoPath, you can design dynamic forms that contain the additional sections only if needed Using our example, when a user chooses Yes to question 5, a section of the form that wasn t visible suddenly becomes available Also, the static employment application may not provide enough room to ll in a complete employment history In this case, users must either not include the additional information or provide it on an additional form With InfoPath forms, your users can ll in as much data as they need since your forms can be built to grow dynamically When your users need more space to ll in additional data, the form can expand to meet their requirements These are just a few aspects of InfoPath that makes it a more powerful tool for XML-based forms than other applications We will talk about these
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InfoPath 2003
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bene ts and more throughout this book First, however, we d like to give you an overview of the evolution of InfoPath through three successive versions InfoPath 2003, InfoPath 2003 Service Pack 1, and InfoPath 2007 This will not only give you some insight into the product s background but also introduce you to several of its features
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InfoPath 2003
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To provide reasonable context for discussing new InfoPath features, let s look at the different versions of the product and what each brings to the table Version 1, of cially released as InfoPath 2003 on August 19, 2003, is Microsoft s inception into the XML forms and data collection markets As such, it bundles competitive features to allow for a rich form experience This section recaps the highlights of InfoPath 2003 The InfoPath design mode is all about creating nice-looking forms that include basic functionality The design surface, or view, is similar to that of Microsoft Word The content of the view ows from left to right, top to bottom, and serves as the presentation layer for the form s data Absolute positioning, such as what PowerPoint offers, would make InfoPath form design cumbersome when accommodating different resolutions and monitor sizes Therefore, layout tables are used instead as the positioning paradigm of choice equivalent to that of many professional Web sites Tables offer a familiar and exible option when demanding pixel-by-pixel, pictureperfect parity For those of us with a less than acute sense for visual design, color schemes spice up even the most boring forms A single click on the Bright Blue color scheme adds a subtle blue color theme to parts of your form template s controls and layout tables If you don t care for the effects of Bright Blue, you can choose another scheme at your convenience at any time Color schemes more dramatically affect Repeating Table controls more than other controls The header and footer backgrounds, text, and table borders comply with the current theme InfoPath 2003 introduced a general set of controls for inclusion in forms Figure 11 shows the Controls task pane As you would expect, the InfoPath design mode includes controls such as Text Box, List Box, Drop-Down List Box, Check Box, Bulleted List, Numbered List, Plain List, Option Button,
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