Introduction to designing a Document Information Panel by using InfoPath

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Introduction to Document Information Panels

The Document Information Panel, which is displayed in Microsoft Office Word 2007, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007, and Microsoft Office Excel 2007 documents, enables users to view and change the properties for an individual file or for a content type that is saved to a document management server, such as a Document Workspace site or a library based on Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. These properties, also known as metadata (metadata: Data that describes other data. For example, the words in a document are data; the word count is an example of metadata.), are details about a file that describe or identify it. Users can use these properties to organize, identify, and search for documents.

The Document Information Panel is a Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007 form that is hosted and displayed within a document. You do not need InfoPath installed on your computer to see a Document Information Panel in a 2007 Microsoft Office system document, but you do need Office InfoPath 2007 to design or customize Document Information Panels. For example, if you want to customize a Document Information Panel to display data from an external resource such as a Web service, you must use Office InfoPath 2007 to design that Document Information Panel.

By using a Document Information Panel with 2007 Office release documents, users can track and edit metadata for a document even as they continue to work in the document. In addition, the Document Information Panel can be customized to use data from an external 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.), such as a Web service, allowing employees to use metadata consistently in different 2007 Office release document types across your organization.

By customizing the Document Information Panel, you can also add business logic, such as data validation, or add custom properties that are important to your organization. In addition, by creating a template part to contain common fields, you can organize the efficient reuse of Document Information Panels in different 2007 Office release document types across your organization.  A template part is a portion of a form template that can be saved for reuse in multiple form templates.

In addition to tracking and editing metadata by using Document Information Panels in Office Word 2007, Office Excel 2007, and Office PowerPoint 2007, users of Office Word 2007 documents can perform additional tasks. In Office Word 2007, users can add properties from the Document Information Panel as property controls in the document itself. Property controls in Office Word 2007 display document properties as content in the document itself. These property controls will be updated as the information in the Document Information Panel is changed. Furthermore, the data in the Document Information Panel is updated when corresponding property controls are changed in the document.

Find more information about adding properties to a Word document in the See Also section.

Types of properties

A Document Information Panels are used to track one of the following:

  • Standard document properties in individual documents.
  • Server properties for SharePoint content types that are based on the Document content type or the Dublin Core Columns content type, which is available on servers running Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.
  • Custom properties that you add to a Document Information Panel.

The properties that users can view or edit by using a Document Information Panel can be grouped into three general categories: document-based properties, server-based properties, and custom properties. Depending on the design of the Document Information Panel, and where it is located, some or all of the following properties may appear in the Document Information Panel:

Document-based properties    These include properties such as title, author name, subject, and keywords that identify the document's topic or contents.

Server-based properties    For documents that are saved to a SharePoint site and that use custom Document Information Panels, these properties can include data about the document library, site columns, site content types, or data from other custom fields.

Custom properties    You define custom properties for an Office document by customizing a Document Information Panel by using InfoPath. Custom properties may include metadata that is specific to an organization or project, such as a project code or cost center value.

 Note   You can also define custom properties for a document by clicking Advanced Properties on the Document Properties menu in a Document Information Panel in Office Word 2007, Office Excel 2007, or Office PowerPoint 2007. However, these advanced properties are not visible in the Document Information Panel itself. To customize the properties that are visible in the Document Information Panel, you must use InfoPath, or in the case of documents stored on a document management server, you must modify the content type schema by adding or removing columns from the content type.

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Using a Document Information Panel

When you create a document with Office Word 2007, Office Excel 2007, or Office PowerPoint 2007, a Document Information Panel is created for you automatically. This default Document Information Panel includes standard properties, such as Author, Title, and Subject. Alternatively, you can add custom properties by designing a Document Information Panel from scratch and then associating it with a document, or by customizing an existing Document Information Panel.

When you design a custom Document Information Panel, you can use it with multiple documents from Office Word 2007, Office Excel 2007, and Office PowerPoint 2007, or you can design multiple Document Information Panels. For example, if certain documents are associated with a specific project, you may want to use unique fields for the Document Information Panels that are used in those documents only.

Even if your organization uses several Document Information Panels, each can contain several common properties. To easily reuse common properties when you design a Document Information Panel, consider using template parts. By creating and using template parts, you can help ensure that key metadata for your organization is consistent in tone, structure, and behavior. For example, your organization can require each Document Information Panel to include a field named Job Title in addition to Author. By designing a template part that uses those common fields, you can easily reuse the template part in multiple Document Information Panels.

 Note   To customize a SharePoint content type schema, you can only customize the Document Information Panel by adding fields that are part of the schema. To add or remove fields from the content Document Information Panel by adding new fields to the content type schema, you must add or remove columns from the content type.

After you create a custom Document Information Panel, you must associate it with a document before you can use it. To do this, you must first activate the Developer tab on the Ribbon in the programs where you want to use the Document Information Panel. You can then specify the location of the Document Information Panel by using a URL, UNC, or URN file path. In addition, you can choose to display the Document Information Panel by default when the document is opened. You can also choose whether the custom properties that you created are visible by default when the document is opened.

In addition to viewing or changing properties in Document Information Panels in documents for Office Word 2007, Office Excel 2007, and Office PowerPoint 2007, in Office Word 2007 users can add properties from the Document Information Panel as property controls in the document itself. For example, multiple instances of a company address can be added as property controls in a document. These property controls will be updated as the information in the Document Information Panel is changed.

Find more information about creating a custom Document Information Panel and adding properties to a Office Word 2007 document in the See Also section.

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Security overview

A Document Information Panel is subject to the same security guidelines and restrictions as an InfoPath form. The security features in InfoPath are designed to help protect users' forms and computers from unsafe operations, such as accessing data from or sending data to a source that is not trusted. For example, InfoPath form templates run in one of three security levels, depending on where they are located, how they are installed, and whether they are digitally signed. The three levels are: Restricted, Domain, and Full Trust. A Document Information Panel is assigned the same security level as an InfoPath form template. Before designing and using a Document Information Panel, you should familiarize yourself with the security considerations for using data connections and for deployment.

Security considerations for using data connections

A Document Information Panel cannot access a data source from another domain unless the Document Information Panel is set to Full Trust. To enable Full Trust, you must digitally sign the form template for the Document Information Panel with a trusted root certificate or create an installable file for it.

 Note   If the person using the document doesn't have permission to access the data source, he or she will see an error message even if the permission level for the Document Information Panel is sufficient to access the data source.

Find additional information about the security levels of InfoPath form templates in the See Also section.

Security considerations for deployment

It is recommended that you deploy a Document Information Panel to the same domain where the documents themselves are located. For example, if an Office Word 2007 document on the server http://example uses a custom Document Information Panel that you design, it is recommended that you store the Document Information Panel for that document on http://example as well. If you decide to deploy a Document Information Panel to another domain, or if a user opens a locally saved version of a document — or one sent as an attachment in an e-mail message — the security level for the Document Information Panel will be downgraded to a lower security level. This is a security precaution to help protect your users from security risks associated with a Document Information Panel accessing data that is located on another domain.

 Notes 

  • When you customize a Document Information Panel for a SharePoint content type, the Document Information Panel is automatically deployed to the SharePoint site when you publish it.
  • If you want a user to run a locally installed version of a Document Information Panel from his or her computer, you must create an installable file by using the Publishing Wizard and Visual Studio. If you publish the form template (.xsn file) for the Document Information Panel to a hard disk drive, the Document Information Panel will not open when the user opens the associated document.

Find additional information about creating an installable file by using the Publishing Wizard and Visual Studio in the See Also section.

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Applies to:
InfoPath 2007