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Assuming that a form template is published properly, a form is really easy to ll out using InfoPath: Just double-click the form template! Of course, there are other ways, too, such as clicking the New button in a SharePoint form library or even using the Getting Started dialog when you rst open InfoPath Filling out a form in the browser is also pretty simple to do but is slightly more involved due to additional moving parts For example, how does lling out a form differ if you have InfoPath installed or not What about InfoPath 2003 instead of InfoPath 2007 Let s examine the possibilities and learn how they work
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Configurations Supported by Forms Services Thanks to a multitude of detection mechanisms, lling out a form is always possible with Forms Services By determining your local system con guration when opening a form template, Forms Services offers the best form lling experience This is critical for cases where there may be incomplete roll-outs of InfoPath or different versions oating around For example, what if some users are still on InfoPath 2003, most use 2003 SP1, a select few use SP2, and others have already made the jump to 2007 The situation might appear to be catastrophic at rst Let s take a closer look at how Forms Services caters to this diversity of InfoPath clients, among other scenarios Publishing to Forms Services is limited to browser-enabled form templates Hence, the form templates must have been used with InfoPath 2007 to become browser-enabled in the rst place It s still possible to publish to SharePoint from InfoPath 2003 (and 2007 without browser compatibility), but the form will never render in the Web browser In the case where the Web browser cannot render the form, it s up to the client computer to launch InfoPath The form will not open if InfoPath is not installed Two InfoPath le types can be opened from the server: XML form and XSN form template Forms Services registers both types when it s provisioned If either type of le is opened on a server, Forms Services rst determines whether or not it should handle that form or form template (XML forms contain metadata that points to the associated XSN form template) Forms Services resolves this decision by looking in its internal list of browser-enabled (ie, activated) form templates If a form template isn t available in its browser rendition, a lightweight ActiveX control launches InfoPath to open the form If instead an XML le was opened from the server, the contents of the le itself are streamed to the client computer This is similar to what happens when opening a Word (doc or docx) document from a SharePoint server There are cases when the InfoPath program cannot be used to ll out the form Say, for example, that someone tries to ll out a status report form template on his or her computer from a SharePoint site with Forms Services Since InfoPath is installed on the system, the form template rst attempts to use InfoPath instead of the browser But take the situation where the version of InfoPath on the computer is 2003 SP1, and the form template was designed with InfoPath 2007 Since InfoPath 2003 cannot open 2007-based
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14: Introduction to Forms Ser vice s
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form templates, the template fails to load In cases like this, Forms Services is smart enough to detect that it needs to render the form template Assuming that the form template is browser-enabled and published to Forms Services, the server takes over the responsibility of displaying the form template when the InfoPath client is not capable
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An InfoPath 2007 form template can be designed with the Show report on compatibility with InfoPath 2003 option enabled (under the Form Options, Compatibility category) If such a form template is published as browser-enabled, it can be opened by a computer with InfoPath 2003
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Despite Forms Services being just another component of a SharePoint server, it adds tremendous value when managing InfoPath form templates across various system con gurations The best part about Forms Services is that it is very similar to lling out rich forms using the InfoPath program As a result, there s no additional cost to an organization in terms of training or downtime to learn a new technology This is especially true if your users are already familiar with SharePoint
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URL-Based Options When you open a browser-enabled form template, you might be using a link such as http://myserver/mysite/forms/templatexsn for a form template or http://myserver/mysite/myformxml for a form But you ll notice that the URL can change to an ugly URL that starts with http://myserver/_ layouts/FormServeraspx and may contain several parameters (Parameters are name=value pairs that start after a question mark and are separated by an ampersand, eg, FormServeraspx param1=a¶m2=b) In this section, we ll look at some of these browser-speci c URL parameters Many of these parameters help to seamlessly integrate form lling into your users typical Web-browsing experience
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