What's new in Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007

InfoPath banner

You can use Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007 to both design and fill out electronic business forms. Office InfoPath 2007provides better integration with other 2007 Microsoft Office system programs and servers, which helps improve the way that you collect, organize, and manage data.

Buy the 2007 Office release button

In this article


Filling out forms

The following features make it easier to gather the data that you need from employees in your organization and from partners, suppliers, and others who access your forms from outside the corporate firewall.

InfoPath e-mail forms

Office InfoPath 2007 is designed to work seamlessly with Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. If you publish a form template to a list of e-mail recipients, users can perform a variety of form-related tasks within Office Outlook 2007, including the following:

  • Fill out and submit data    In Office Outlook 2007, users can open, fill out, and submit InfoPath forms that were sent to them as e-mail messages. They can also reply to or forward the forms, just as they can with any other e-mail messages.
  • Store data in folders    In Office Outlook 2007, you can use a new type of folder, called an InfoPath Forms folder, to store collections of related Office InfoPath 2007 forms. For example, if you publish a expense report form template to a list of e-mail recipients, you can store the completed expense reports in an InfoPath Forms folder in your Inbox. You can also choose to show the data from each form in columns in that folder. This allows you to quickly group, filter, and sort data from multiple forms. For example, in an InfoPath Forms folder for expense reports, you can sort by the amount of total expenses.

Forms in an InfoPath Forms folder

  • Merge data    You can consolidate the data from many e-mail forms into one form. For example, if you collect status report forms from your team by using Office Outlook 2007, you can merge the data from those forms into a single summary form for your manager.
  • Export data    If you want to perform a detailed analysis of form data, you can export it from your InfoPath Forms folder in Office Outlook 2007 to Microsoft Office Excel 2007. In the workbook, you can analyze the data, create charts or graphs, or save or export the mapped data as standard XML so that other users or systems can process it.

Forms for the Web

In Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003, users had to have InfoPath installed on their computers to fill out an InfoPath form. Now you can use Office InfoPath 2007 in conjunction with InfoPath Forms Services to design and publish a browser-compatible form template (browser-compatible form template: A form template that is designed in InfoPath by using a specific compatibility mode. A browser-compatible form template can be browser-enabled when it is published to a server running InfoPath Forms Services.). After the browser-compatible form template has been browser-enabled, users who do not have InfoPath installed on their computers can fill the form out in a Web browser.

For example, imagine that you are designing an expense report in InfoPath. Your expectation is that most users who fill out the expense report form will have InfoPath installed on their computers. However, some users, such as employees who are travelling for business, may not have access to computers with InfoPath installed on them. To accommodate both sets of users, you can design the expense report as a browser-compatible form template and publish it to a server running InfoPath Forms Services. Users can then fill out the expense report form in a browser, if necessary.

Form open in browser

InfoPath Forms Services also provides a central location to store and manage form templates for your organization.

Forms for mobile devices

By using Office InfoPath 2007 together with InfoPath Forms Services, you can design a browser-compatible form template that runs on a mobile device. You can design a browser-compatible form template that is exclusively for display on the small screen. Alternatively, you can create a dedicated view (view: A form-specific display setting that can be saved with a form template and applied to form data when the form is being filled out. Users can switch between views to choose the amount of data shown in the form.) for mobile users in your browser-compatible form template and create other views for people who fill out the form in InfoPath or in a Web browser. In either case, it is best to know exactly which mobile devices you are targeting so you can optimize your design to suit that environment.

Form open in mobile device

Forms for InfoPath 2003

If some of your users still use Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003, you can save your Office InfoPath 2007 form template in a format that is compatible with InfoPath 2003. You can use this setting on a form-by-form basis or make InfoPath 2003 the default format for saving any form templates that you design by using Office InfoPath 2007.

Forms for document management

In many Microsoft Office system programs, you can update properties for a server document in a Document Information Panel, which appears as a set of editable fields at the top of a document. For example, in a Microsoft Office Word 2007 document, you might be required to edit properties for author name, date of creation, and document type. This ultimately makes it easier for you to find what you're looking for on the server. For example, you can quickly find all press releases where the customer property matches the name of a particular customer. You can use InfoPath to create or edit a custom Document Information Panel for use with a site or list content type. This enables you to control the look and feel of the Document Information Panel or use InfoPath features, such as data validation and conditional formatting, to customize the behavior of the form fields in the panel.

Forms for custom business applications

Form developers can now embed the InfoPath environment for filling out forms in a custom Windows application or on a Web (.aspx) page. This feature allows developers to integrate InfoPath form templates into existing business applications or create custom applications that include embedded InfoPath form templates. For example, an insurance company might embed controls and other form template functionality inside a custom application for processing insurance claims.

Top of Page Top of Page

Designing form templates

The following features make it easier for you to design and test form templates.

Import and export options

If you use existing forms in Microsoft Office Word or Microsoft Office Excel, and you want to convert those forms into InfoPath form templates, you don't have to re-create them from scratch in InfoPath. Instead, you can use a wizard to quickly convert the existing document or workbook into an InfoPath form template.

Import Options dialog box with Import Wizard open in background

In addition, you can download importers and exporters from third-party companies and individuals who list services on the Microsoft Office Marketplace Web site.

In InfoPath 2003, users could export their completed form to an Excel worksheet or Single File Web Page (MHTML) (Single File Web Page (MHTML): An HTML document saved in MHTML format, which integrates inline graphics, applets, linked documents, and other supporting items referenced in the document.) file. Office InfoPath 2007 now supports exporting files to the following formats:

  • Portable Document Format (PDF)     PDF is a fixed-layout electronic file format that preserves document formatting and enables file sharing. The PDF format ensures that when the file is viewed online or printed, it retains exactly the format that you intended, and that data in the file cannot be easily copied or changed. The PDF format is also useful for documents that will be reproduced by using commercial printing methods.
  • XML Paper Specification (XPS)     XPS is an electronic file format that preserves document formatting and enables file sharing. The XPS format ensures that when the file is viewed online or printed, it retains exactly the format that you intended, and that data in the file cannot be easily copied or changed.

You can save as a PDF or XPS file from a 2007 Microsoft Office system program only after you install an add-in. For more information, see Enable support for other file formats, such as PDF and XPS.

More options for designing views

Office InfoPath 2007 offers new options when you design a form template that has multiple views. These options include:

  • Read-only views    Create a read-only view when users need to view the data in a form but don't need — or want — to manipulate it. Read-only views can provide a fast way to create reporting and other types of data that you don't want users to change.
  • Printed views    In the new Print Multiple Views dialog box, you can specify exactly which views can be printed for your users, as well as the order in which those views are printed.
  • Targeted views    When designing browser-compatible form templates, you can create different views for the different environments where users will be filling out the form. For example, you can create one view for users who will fill out your form in InfoPath and a second view for users who will fill out your form in a browser. You can include features and controls in the InfoPath-only view that you couldn't otherwise use in a browser-compatible form template.

New and improved controls

Office InfoPath 2007 includes new controls and improves the way that existing controls work. The following list describes some of these improvements and additions:

  • Combo box control    A control that combines an edit control with a list box. This allows users to type an entry or choose one from a list.

Item being typed in combo box

  • Multiple-selection list box    A control that allows users to select more than one item in a list of check boxes.

Custom value being added to list of choices in multiple-selection list box

  • Horizontal region    A control that enables you to place two areas side-by-side on your form template. When forms based on your form template are resized, the horizontal region grows or shrinks to fill the available space.
  • Horizontal repeating table    A control that enables users to add as many columns as needed when filling out a form.

Sales data entered in horizontal repeating table on form

  • Enhancements to existing controls    In addition to providing more controls, Office InfoPath 2007 improves the way that you work with existing controls. Among other things, you can specify auto-advance options for text boxes, allow linked images in rich text boxes, use additional date and time functions, and define input scopes to improve handwriting or speech recognition in form controls.

Reusable template parts

Create your own custom template parts to achieve a standardized, consistent design for a collection of form templates. For example, you can create template parts for a signature section or to collect contact information from employees.

Template part on form template

In addition to reusing controls and layout, you can reuse business logic, including rules (rule: A condition or action, or a set of conditions or actions, that automatically performs tasks based on events and values in the form.) and data validation (data validation: The process of testing the accuracy of data; a set of rules you can apply to a control to specify the type and range of data that users can enter.). After designing a template part, you can add it to the Controls task pane, where you can then insert it into your form templates. You can reuse the template part wherever you need to, share it with other form designers, and update it, if necessary.

Design Checker task pane

The new Design Checker task pane detects design problems that may be present in your form template, such as controls that won't work properly in InfoPath 2003 or features that are unsupported in browser-compatible form templates. You can check for problems before you save or publish your form template, after you import a form design from another program, or while you design your form template. The Design Checker task pane provides detailed information about each problem.

Part of the Design Checker task pane

Logic inspector

In the Logic Inspector dialog box, you can review all of the data validation settings, calculated default values, rules, and programming features that are associated with your form template. By doing so, you can avoid the time-consuming process of opening each control individually in order to review these settings.

Workflow integration

The term "workflow" refers to the automated movement of documents or items through a specific sequence of actions or tasks that are related to a business process. Workflows can be used to consistently manage common business processes, such as document approval or review. By using InfoPath form templates together with the workflow management features in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can automate business processes in which forms are passed from one user to another. For example, as a manager, you can use an approval workflow to route an expense report form through a list of approvers. Approvers can approve or reject the expense report form, reassign the approval task, or request changes to the form. In InfoPath, users click commands on the File menu to participate in the workflow. On the server, they can point to the name of the form in the library, click the arrow that appears, and then click Workflows to participate in the workflow.

Workflows command on shortcut menu

In addition, you can add rules to your form template that respond to changes in the workflow. For example, you can design a form template for expense reports so that when an employee submits the form, a rule automatically switches to a view that shows a high-level summary of expenses and routes the form with that view open to the employee's manager for approval.

Better offline options

If you configure a secondary data connection for offline use, forms that are based on your form template will cache (cache: A special memory subsystem in which frequently used data values, such as files that are made available for use offline, are duplicated for quick access. Changes made to the cached copy of a file are not reflected in the source copy of the file.) the data from that secondary data connection. This enables users to view and work with the data that is retrieved from an external data source, even when the users are disconnected from the network or the external data source for the form is unavailable. The lack of a network connection is transparent to users because list boxes and other controls that retrieve the data from a data source appear to be working as usual. By default, InfoPath configures the form template so that its forms cache this data indefinitely. You can configure the form template so that its forms can access this cached data for only a specified number of days. If you do this, InfoPath deletes the data in the cache after that number of days has passed.

Better ways to work with data connections

By using Office InfoPath 2007 and InfoPath Forms Services, you can easily share, manage, and update data connections (data connection: The connection between an InfoPath form and an external data source, such as a database, Web service, SharePoint library, or XML file. Data connections are used to query and submit data.) in a form template by storing them outside of InfoPath, in a data connection file (data connection file: A file that stores information about a connection to a data source, such as an Access database, a spreadsheet, or a text file, and that facilitates data source administration.) in a data connection library (data connection library: A document library, located on a site running Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, that contains a collection of universal data connection (.udcx) and Office data connection (.odc) files.). Among other things, data connection libraries eliminate the need to open your form template and reconfigure the existing data connection settings every time those settings change. This can be especially useful when you need to move a form template from a staging server to a production server.

Support for IRM

Office InfoPath 2007 supports Information Rights Management (IRM), which allows you to specify access permissions to forms and form templates. IRM helps prevent sensitive information in a form from being printed, forwarded, or copied by unauthorized people. For example, you can specify that users can read a form template but can't print it or forward it in an e-mail message. Users can also specify IRM settings for the forms that they fill out.

Permission dialog box

More options for merging forms

In Office InfoPath 2007, you can customize the default merge behavior for specific controls, including list boxes, text boxes, and most repeating controls. For example, you can choose to separate combined items with a vertical line, comma, or other visual separator when you merge multiple forms.

More options for printing forms

You can now print specific data from user forms in the header or footer. For example, if you are designing a legal form template, you can make the case name appear automatically in the footer of the printed form. In a form template with multiple views, you can specify exactly which views should be printed when a user prints the form, and in what order.

More options for previewing forms

To make it easier to test form templates, you can preview a form template with different security restrictions in place. In addition, you can now customize all preview settings at once in the Form Options dialog box and save them with the form template. For example, if your form template contains user role (user role: A predefined category that can be assigned to form users based on job title or some other criterion. Roles are typically used to present customized versions of a form to different types of users.) assignments, you can specify that a role other than the default one be used when previewing the form.

Preview settings in the Form Options dialog box

New sample forms

The following table lists the five new sample form templates that come with InfoPath. Use these form templates as is, customize them to suit your needs, or review them to get design and layout ideas for your own form templates.

Form template Use to
Asset Tracking Track information about computer equipment and other business assets.
Expense Report Track and submit business expenses.
Meeting Agenda Organize and summarize a business meeting.
Status Report Track progress and issues for projects and assignments.
Travel Request Request travel arrangements, such as flights and hotel accommodations, for a business trip.

Top of Page Top of Page

Developing form templates

You don't need programming expertise to design an effective form template. However, if the needs of your business require you to write code, you can take advantage of new features in Office InfoPath 2007 that were specifically designed for developers. The following sections outline these features.

Updated object model

Office InfoPath 2007 has added many new features and improvements that are of interest to developers. Foremost among these improvements is the addition of a new managed-code object model that is cleaner and better integrated with the Microsoft .NET Framework. Business logic written in this new object model works the same way for a form template that is opened in Office InfoPath 2007 as it does for a form template opened in a Web browser. By writing and compiling the code once, you can save valuable development time.

InfoPath inside Visual Studio

You can integrate InfoPath design-mode features into the Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 development environment by downloading and installing Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the 2007 Microsoft Office System on your computer. You can then open Visual Studio 2005, create an InfoPath form template project, and use design-mode features to design your form template. For information on downloading Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the 2007 Microsoft Office System, see the InfoPath Developer Portal on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) Web site.

Visual Studio inside InfoPath

In Office InfoPath 2007 design mode, you can quickly add managed code to your form template by opening Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Applications (VSTA). VSTA is the managed-code complement to Microsoft Script Editor (MSE) (Microsoft Script Editor (MSE): A programming environment used to create, edit, and debug Microsoft JScript or Microsoft VBScript code in an InfoPath form.), which you can continue to use for writing script.

Support for COM add-ins

Office InfoPath 2007 provides support for creating and registering the Component Object Model (COM) add-in (COM add-in: A supplemental program that extends the capabilities of a Microsoft Office program by adding custom commands and specialized features. COM add-ins can run in one or more Office programs. COM add-ins use the file name extension .dll or .exe.), which is a supplemental program that adds custom commands or specialized features to Office InfoPath 2007. The development model is very similar to that of other Microsoft Office programs, such as Word and Excel.

Hosting options

You can now host the InfoPath editing environment in custom Windows applications or Web (.aspx) pages.

To host an InfoPath form in a custom Windows application, you use the Microsoft Office InfoPath Form Control, which is available as either an ActiveX control or a .NET component. For example, your company might use the InfoPath Form Control to include InfoPath user interface elements and features inside a custom program for filling out business forms, such as the one shown here.

InfoPath form hosted in custom program

To host an InfoPath form in a custom Web page, you can use the Microsoft Office InfoPath XmlFormView control, which is an ASP.NET Web control that is available on servers running InfoPath Forms Services.

Control IDs in design mode

You can now determine the ViewContext identifier for a control on an InfoPath form template in design mode by displaying the control's Control Properties dialog box, and then clicking the Advanced tab. The ViewContext value for the current control is displayed in the Code section of the Advanced tab.

Top of Page Top of Page

Publishing form templates

A key part of the form template design process involves distributing your form template to your users. In Office InfoPath 2007, you can publish form templates to more locations, including servers running InfoPath Forms Services or Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

The following table lists the publishing options that are available in the Publishing Wizard.

Publish option Description
To a SharePoint server with or without InfoPath Forms Services You can use this option to publish a browser-compatible form template to a server running InfoPath Forms Services. You can also publish a regular form template to a library or as a site content type (content type: A reusable group of settings for a category of content. Use content types to manage the metadata, templates, and behaviors of items and documents consistently. Content types are defined at the site level and used on lists and libraries.) on a server running Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.
To a list of e-mail recipients In InfoPath 2003, you used the Send Form as Attachment command (File menu) to send a form template as an attachment in an e-mail message. In Office InfoPath 2007, this feature is now part of the Publishing Wizard, so that all publishing features exist in one place. By publishing a form template to a list of e-mail recipients, you enable users to open, fill out, and submit InfoPath forms in the body of an e-mail message.
To a network location Use this option to publish a form template to a shared folder on your computer or on a network.
As an installable form template (.js or .msi file) In InfoPath 2003, a specialized Software Development Kit (SDK) tool was required to package and deploy custom installed form templates (custom installed form: A form that is installed with a custom setup program and that usually has access to files and settings on the computer.). In Office InfoPath 2007, however, you can use the Publishing Wizard to create a Microsoft Windows Installer (.msi) (Microsoft Windows Installer (MSI): A tool that is used to create installation packages for software that is to be deployed on Windows operating systems.) setup file that can install and register the form template on your users' computers. To do this, you must have Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 or Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 installed on your computer. If you do not have Visual Studio installed on your computer, you can save a copy of the form template to a shared network folder and create a Microsoft JScript (JScript: An interpreted, object-based scripting language that borrows from C, C++, and Java. It is the Microsoft implementation of the ECMA 262 language specification.) (.js) file that registers the form template on your users' computers. In this case, both the form template and the script file must be copied to the users' computers. After copying both files, the administrator or someone with administrator permissions can run the script to register the form template.
As a Document Information Panel template for a SharePoint site content type or list content type Advanced form designers can design form templates that function as Document Information Panels, which appear to the user as editable fields at the top of their document. If you are creating custom Document Information Panels in InfoPath, an additional option appears in the Publishing Wizard that allows the form template to be published as a Document Information Panel template.

Top of Page Top of Page

Maintaining form templates

The following features make it easier for you to maintain, update, and archive forms and form templates.

Archiving options

Organizations often archive forms as the last step in the form-design life cycle. In Office InfoPath 2007, you can archive a completed form by opening the form and exporting it to one of the following formats:

  • Portable Document Format (PDF)     PDF is a fixed-layout electronic file format that preserves document formatting and enables file sharing. The PDF format ensures that when the file is viewed online or printed, it retains exactly the format that you intended, and that data in the file cannot be easily copied or changed. The PDF format is also useful for documents that will be reproduced by using commercial printing methods.
  • XML Paper Specification (XPS)     XPS is an electronic file format that preserves document formatting and enables file sharing. The XPS format ensures that when the file is viewed online or printed, it retains exactly the format that you intended, and that data in the file cannot be easily copied or changed.

You can save as a PDF or XPS file from a 2007 Microsoft Office system program only after you install an add-in. For more information, see Enable support for other file formats, such as PDF and XPS.

If your organization uses Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can archive completed, server-based forms (.xml files) by converting them into Web pages.

 Note   When you convert a form into a Web page, the resulting file may be slightly different from the original file. You should verify the results of the conversion to make sure that it serves your needs. For example, if a data connection to a secondary data source was used to populate a list box on the form, you won’t see all of the list box values in the archived form. Instead, you will see only the value that the user specified when they filled out the form.

Update options

When you update a published form template, InfoPath can automatically replace the original form template on your users' computers with a more recent version. However, if necessary for regulatory or other reasons, you can now allow users to opt out of updating the form template.

If you have published an administrator-approved form template (administrator-approved form template: A browser-compatible form template that has been uploaded by an administrator to a server running InfoPath Forms Services. An administrator-approved form template can include code.) to a server running InfoPath Forms Services, you can replace that form template with a new version without causing data loss to users who are currently filling out your form in a browser. If you have a compelling reason, such as a security fix, you can choose to immediately overwrite the form template.

Office Diagnostics

Microsoft Office Diagnostics is a series of diagnostic tests that can help you determine why your computer is crashing. The diagnostic tests can solve some problems directly and may identify ways that you can solve other problems. Microsoft Office Diagnostics replaces the Microsoft Office 2003 Detect and Repair and Microsoft Office Application Recovery features.

Office Trust Center

The Trust Center is where you find security and privacy settings for the 2007 Microsoft Office system programs. The Very High, High, Medium, and Low security levels that were used in earlier versions of Office are now replaced with a more streamlined security system.

Buy the 2007 Office release button

Top of Page Top of Page

 
 
Applies to:
InfoPath 2007