Overview of form templates and modes

Microsoft InfoPath 2010 Designer enables you to design a variety of forms that can be filled out in a Web browser and InfoPath Filler. To start designing an InfoPath form, launch the InfoPath 2010 Designer, and select from a gallery of templates on the File tab, in the New section. The templates are divided into the following categories: Popular Form Templates, Advanced Form Templates, InfoPath 2007 Form Templates, and Template Parts. And, each of these categories lists a number of form templates to select.

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InfoPath form templates overview

The forms in the Popular Form Templates category enables you up to successfully deploy forms which use SharePoint lists for their primary data source, have the look-and-feel of SharePoint and E-mail forms, or give you the flexibility you need to design the form from scratch. If you expect to design your form with advanced data connections, such as a database or Web service connection, then you should select the correct template from the Advanced Form Templates category. If a majority of your users are using SharePoint 2007 or InfoPath 2007 then you should choose a template from the InfoPath 2007 Form Templates category, or expect to change the form compatibility later. Finally, the Template Parts category is available for designers who wish to create reusable form parts that can be embedded in other forms.

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Popular Form Templates

The Popular Form Templates category offers a selection of the most commonly designed InfoPath forms.

Template Type Filling Environment
SharePoint List Web browser and Microsoft SharePoint Workspace
SharePoint Form Library Web browser and InfoPath Filler
E-mail Microsoft Outlook
Blank Form Web browser and InfoPath Filler
Blank Form (InfoPath Filler) InfoPath Filler

SharePoint List

The SharePoint List form template is used to customize the form that is used to create, view, and edit items in a SharePoint List. You start by specifying a new or existing SharePoint list, and InfoPath automatically generates the list form. After you customize the form, publish it back to SharePoint in one click using the InfoPath 2010 Designer Quick Publish feature.

SharePoint Form Library

The SharePoint Form Library template is used to design a form for collecting data in a SharePoint form library. InfoPath starts you out with a basic layout that can be quickly tailored by adding controls, selecting from available SharePoint Themes in the Page Design tab of the ribbon, and customizing your submit options.

E-Mail

The E-mail form is distributed, filled out, and submitted through e-mail. You can use the automatically generated layout, or reformat it with Page Layout Templates, Themes, and tables found in the ribbon. After you have finished customizing the layout and adding controls, specify who receives the e-mail. To do this, click the Data tab, and then, in the Submit Form group, click To E-mail. Next, click the File tab, then click the Publish section, and then click E-Mail to select the intended recipients.

InfoPath forms can only be submitted through e-mail in Microsoft Outlook 2007 and 2010. The default compatibility is Outlook 2010; if you need to target Outlook 2007, you can change the form template type to E-Mail (InfoPath 2007). Users need to have the same version of Outlook and InfoPath installed in order to fill out e-mail forms.

Blank Form

The Blank Form template starts you out with a blank page layout. As the designer, you add controls, data connections, and specify the layout and sections that best suit your needs.

By default, the Blank Form can be filled out in a Web browser and InfoPath Filler.

Blank Form (InfoPath Filler)

When creating a form that is filled out using InfoPath Filler, use the Blank Form (InfoPath Filler) option. As with the “Blank Form” template, you add layout, controls, and data connections that best suit your needs.

The Blank Form (InfoPath Filler) can only be filled out in the InfoPath Filler.

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Advanced Form Templates

Template Type Filling Environment
Database
  • Microsoft SQL Server: Web browser or InfoPath Filler
  • Microsoft Access: InfoPath Filler
Web Service Web browser and InfoPath Filler
XML or Schema Web browser and InfoPath Filler
Data Connection File Web browser and InfoPath Filler
Convert Existing Form Web browser, and InfoPath Filler
Document Information Panel Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel

Database

The Database form connects to a Microsoft SQL Server or Access database as the primary data source and uses tables in the database to define fields in the form. This template determines whether the form can be filled out in a Web browser or InfoPath Filler dynamically. That is, if you select a Microsoft SQL database then the form defaults to a Web browser form and Access defaults to an InfoPath Filler form.

 Note    Only InfoPath Filler forms support submit data connections to Microsoft SQL Server. If you need a submit data connection to a Microsoft SQL Server, change the form compatibility to InfoPath Filler after you have specified your database. Then, on the Data tab, in the Get External Data group, click Data Connections. Modify your existing Microsoft SQL Server data connection to support the submit operation by selecting the data connection and, in the Data Connections dialog, clicking Modify.

Web Service

The Web Service form connects to a SOAP Web service that you specify to import as a data source. While only SOAP Web services can be used as the primary data source, InfoPath supports both SOAP and REST Web services. After you select a Web service, and specify whether you use the service to receive or submit data, InfoPath Designer populates the form schema with the appropriate query and data fields.

XML or Schema

The XML or Schema template uses an existing XML document to build the form data source. When you select this template, InfoPath prompts you to select the existing XML document. When designing the form, you simply need to tie controls to the elements in the tree that were imported from the XML document that you based the form on. This form template defaults to an InfoPath Filler form in order to continue providing support for repeating sequences and other complex schema.

Data Connection File

The Data Connection File template starts by connecting to an existing data connection library on a SharePoint server you specify. You proceed to select a data connection file, and InfoPath uses the connection parameters in the file to configure the form’s primary data source. After you’ve selected the data connection file, add controls, create rules, and apply formatting to complete your design.

Convert Existing Form

Use this form template to convert existing Excel and Word documents into InfoPath forms. By default, InfoPath ships with two converter libraries, one for Word and one for Excel. Advanced users can build and import additional converter libraries to use with this design option as well.

Document Information Panel

Use this form template to customize the form used to edit properties of Microsoft Office documents that are stored in a SharePoint document library. InfoPath automatically creates a form based on the columns of the SharePoint document library, and then you can add controls, create rules, and apply formatting. Even though a Document Information is an InfoPath form, users do not need to have InfoPath installed to fill-out a Document Information Panel.

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InfoPath 2007 Form Templates

The forms in this category are identical to the blank templates that are included in the Popular Form Templates category, except that they are InfoPath 2007 compatible and lack some of the advanced features of InfoPath 2010. Many of your users may not have upgraded to the 2010 releases of SharePoint or the InfoPath client. If you prefer to start with a blank form template, and know that you must target previous releases of Office, then the InfoPath 2007 form templates will serve as a convenient short-cut for ensuring you are in the correct mode.

 Note    InfoPath 2010 also allows you to design forms that are compatible with InfoPath 2003.

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Template Parts

Template parts are basically an aggregation of other InfoPath controls and features. They support most features that are available to you when designing a form template except form code. You design a form template part the same way you would design a standard form template. After you complete your design, the form template part will appear in the controls gallery and you can add it to your form templates as easily as adding any other InfoPath control.

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Change the form template type or compatibility

After selecting a form template from the New tab, InfoPath will default your filling environment (mode) to Web browser or InfoPath Filler. In most cases, you can easily switch between modes by using Save-As, or by clicking the File tab then Form Options. Next, click Compatibility and select the desired form type from the Form type box. There are, however, a few form templates where the mode cannot be changed, such as SharePoint list and E-mail. Certain controls, data sources, and templates are also available in only one environment. For example, submit database connections and XML schemas with complex repeating sequences are only supported in the InfoPath Filler. Finally, InfoPath Filler forms contain a superset of the controls and features that are available in Web browser forms. You can add features to a Filler form that will not work in a Web browser form. If you expect a form to be filled out on SharePoint and in the InfoPath Filler, you should design a Web browser form.

For more information regarding controls, and their compatibility, see Introduction to controls.

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Applies to:
InfoPath 2010