When designing a Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 form (form: In InfoPath, a document with a set of controls into which users can enter information. InfoPath forms can contain features such as rich text boxes, date pickers, optional and repeating sections, data validation, and conditional formatting.), starting with a blank form provides the most flexibility and allows you to create a design that best fits your needs. While you can experiment and work the way that suits you best, following a recommended design process may save you valuable time and effort.
The Design Tasks task pane contains links to design tools in the recommended order of design tasks. These tasks are listed below and provide useful information on how to design your new, blank form.
1. Create the form's layout
Before you begin adding controls (control: A graphical user interface object, such as a text box, check box, scroll bar, or command button, that lets users control the program. You use controls to display data or choices, perform an action, or make the user interface easier to read.) to a new, blank form, start by inserting layout tables (layout table: A collection of cells used to arrange form content such as text or controls.). A layout table is a framework that includes rows and columns for organizing and arranging form content, including controls, sections of a form, logos, and other types of graphics. These regions provide a visual structure for the content of a form. You can drag layout tables onto your form from the Layout task pane. This task pane also provides easy ways to customize layout tables using familiar Microsoft Office 2003 table-editing commands, such as adding rows and columns, and splitting and merging table cells.
If you want to duplicate the look of a paper form, draw a grid on the paper form to determine how many rows and columns you need in your form's layout.
2. Add controls to the form
After creating your form's layout, you can add functionality to your form by inserting controls. The Controls task pane provides access to all of the controls available in InfoPath, including any custom Microsoft ActiveX controls (ActiveX control: A custom control. Form designers can add or remove ActiveX controls in the Controls task pane.) you've added. You can add controls to your form either by clicking them or by dragging them from the task pane to the form area (form area: The area of the InfoPath workspace that displays the form you are working with.). Based on the type of controls you add to your form, users filling out your form will be able to type text into text fields, make selections from option buttons and check boxes, choose entries from lists, and click command buttons to carry out commands.
3. Bind controls to the data source
Controls on a form must be bound (bind: To connect a control to a field or group in the data source so that data entered into the control is saved. When a control is unbound, it is not connected to a field or group, and so data entered into the control will not be saved.) to fields (field: An element or attribute in the data source that can contain data. If the field is an element, it can contain attribute fields. Fields store the data that is entered into controls.) and groups (group: An element in the data source that can contain fields and other groups. Controls that contain other controls, such as repeating tables and sections, are bound to groups.) in the form's data source (data source: The collection of fields and groups that define and store the data for an InfoPath form. Controls in the form are bound to the fields and groups in the data source.). This allows the data that users type into the form to be saved. InfoPath automatically creates the fields and groups for you when you add controls to a new, blank form. If you're working from an existing XML Schema (XML Schema: A formal specification, written in XML, that defines the structure of an XML document, including element names and rich data types, which elements can appear in combination, and which attributes are available for each element.) or data source, or if you've cleared the Automatically create data source check box in the Controls task pane, you will be prompted to manually bind each individual control you insert. In either case, you can use the Data Source task pane to view the structure of your form's data, show and hide details for each of the fields and groups, and modify their associations.
4. Create custom views
Every form that you open or create in InfoPath has a default 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.). You can use the Views task pane to design additional views, so that users can look at the information in the form in different ways. For example, in a project status form you can have a default view, which shows detailed data about the project, and another view that summarizes that data. You can also create print views that specify custom print settings for users filling out and printing the finished form. If you want to switch the view of the form based on criteria such as user roles (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.), you can use 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.) to do so.
5. Publish the form
While you can save the form you are designing to your local hard drive at any time, you must publish your finished form to a shared location in order to make it available to other users. Before you publish your form, you should test it to make sure it looks and works as expected. In design mode, you can use the Preview Form command to view your form exactly as it will appear to users who are filling it out. After testing, you can use the Publishing Wizard to publish your finished form to a shared folder on your computer or your company's network, to your intranet or Internet Web server, or to a Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services site.
Note The information in this topic may not apply if you are working with a form designed using Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 without the service pack installed.