3: Working with Data in .NET

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3: Working with Data
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Figure 34: Data type validation error that occurs when a field contains invalid data
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Browser-enabled form templates also show validation, but tool tips are not used Instead, a box appears above the control with the validation error message Additional details are available if the error message text appears as a link Clicking the link opens a dialog with additional details You can also hit Ctrl+Shift+I to show the dialog
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tool tip with the speci c validation error (Figure 34) In this case, only integers are allowed Data type errors always prevent users from submitting the form if submit functionality is enabled (Submit is discussed at length in 8) Even if a data connection, which can send data to an external system, submits a single eld that is valid at the time of submit, it is still not allowed (s 6, 7, and 8 provide more information on data connections) Despite submit not scoping the validation only to the speci c data in the form to be submitted, the entire data source must be free of validation errors for submit to happen Unlike submit, a form can be saved with validation errors only after the user accepts a daunting warning message (Figure 35)
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Figure 35: Warning when saving a form with validation errors
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Data Source Field and Group Propertie s
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Browser-enabled form templates in the browser do not warn when saving a form with validation errors Submit will fail, however, if the form contains errors
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Data types have no bearing on whether or not a eld requires lling out Even though technically an empty integer eld does not make sense, it is allowed Astute readers may argue that the XML Schema integer type is not satis ed by an empty value This argument is undoubtedly true Since InfoPath is meant to be a user-friendly and exible tool, it leverages the XML Schema nillable feature When a schema de nes a node to be nillable, it allows an empty value for the node to be a valid value in addition to the data type constraints Some schema data types do not make sense with nillable such as string since an empty string is valid by de nition
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Cannot Be Blank Property To manage whether or not a eld is valid as empty, use the Cannot be blank checkbox on the Field or Group Properties dialog In our discussion about data types, we said that some data types add nillable to the schema definition for a given node Checking Cannot be blank will remove nillable Doing so enforces the classical de nition of those XML Schema data types Types where nillable does not make sense will respond differently in the schema to the cannot be blank property A string, for example, actually changes to a custom InfoPath-de ned data type called requiredString This custom type is similar to a string but adds a minimum length constraint through XML Schema s minLength feature The schema that InfoPath generates for this custom type is shown in the code below Figure 36 shows an example of using the cannot be blank property when lling out the form
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<xsd:element name=" eld1" type="my:requiredString"/> <xsd:simpleType name="requiredString"> <xsd:restriction base="xsd:string"> <xsd:minLength value="1"/> </xsd:restriction> </xsd:simpleType>
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3: Working with Data
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Figure 36: Validation error for the cannot be blank property, delineated by a red asterisk
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Fields that cannot be blank are treated similarly to validation errors but with a different visual cue Notice that the warning message in Figure 36 equally addresses empty and invalid elds as needing attention
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Extracting the XML Schema from a Form Template
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To see your form template s XML Schema(s), select Save as Source Files from the File menu in design mode The XML Schema le name extension is xsd You can view the le in an application that can render schemas such as Visual Studio NET, or simply open it in a text editor like Notepad You can nd more information about Save as Source Files in 9
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Repeating Property So far we ve looked at the following properties of a node: name, data type, and cannot be blank The next property we ll discuss, which applies equally to leaf and container nodes but not attribute nodes, is repetition Why is repetition necessary Repetition lets a form designer gather more than one of a speci c piece of data when a user lls out the form Say a form collects the names of participants in a bicycling ride Without repetition, the names would need to be entered into a single Text Box control bound to a eld A special delimiter character could separate the names We wouldn t want to maintain that list! Can t we just create more elds instead The approach of using multiple elds does not work because you don t know ahead of time how many participants will show up You could group rst letters of last names across multiple Text Box controls and elds, but we re still back into the same problem Repeating elds and
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