|Microsoft Office InfoPath™ 2003 Service Pack 1 or later
The Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 Service Pack contains updates and performance improvements for the Microsoft Office System. In addition, the service pack offers a number of features that are specific to InfoPath and that make it easier to design, publish, and fill out forms. This article summarizes those feature enhancements.
Note Service pack features are enabled by default when you install the service pack, although you can choose to turn them off. For more information about the service pack, see the links in the See Also box at the top of this article.
Improved form controls
The service pack includes more 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.) for working with data, as well as improvements to existing controls. The following list describes some of these improvements and additions:
- Master/Detail control When a user selects an item in a master control, related information about that item appears in a detail control. This enables users to efficiently work with large amounts of data. For example, if your form is connected to a database of sales information, you might use a master control to display customer records and a detail control to display the orders associated with each customer.
- File attachment control Using this control, users can attach files to a form they are filling out.
- Custom control Form designers can now insert controls that are based on Microsoft ActiveX (ActiveX: A set of technologies that enables software components to interact with one another in a networked environment, regardless of the language in which the components were created.) technologies, such as a Microsoft Windows® slider control or a custom control designed specifically for InfoPath.
- Choice group By using this control, users can replace one option with another option when they are filling out a form. For example, users can replace a default shipping address with an alternate address.
- Scrolling region This control enables users to scroll through text inside a fixed-width area on their form. Scrolling regions are a good space-saving option for forms that display a lot of data.
- Repeating recursive section This control can be inserted within itself, is bound to nested reference fields (reference field: A field that is associated with another field so that their properties always match. If the properties in one field are changed, the properties in the other field are updated automatically.), and repeats. This is useful when you want to create hierarchical content, such as an organization chart or outline.
- Vertical label By using this control, you can add text to your form that appears at a 90-degree angle, such as a vertical column heading.
- Control enhancements In addition to providing more controls, the service pack improves the way you work with existing controls. Among other things, you can now align the text in a control with the surrounding text, limit characters or enable paragraph breaks in text boxes, edit multiple controls simultaneously, and use values from the form to populate list boxes.
More ways to work with data
The service pack adds or enhances support for the following InfoPath features:
- Formulas and functions You can now calculate mathematical values, display dates and times, reference other fields in a form, and perform string operations such as combining multiple fields into one field—all without script.
- Filters The service pack enables you to filter data inside repeating tables (repeating table: A control on a form that contains other controls in a table format and that repeats as needed. Users can insert multiple rows when filling out the form.) and certain other controls. You can also use filters to create a cascading list box effect, in which the selection in one list box determines the subset of choices in a second list box.
- Data validation By enabling the service pack, you can use pattern matching to define 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.) requirements for controls. Data entry patterns restrict how users enter numbers and text into a control. For example, you can require that users enter a phone number with parentheses around the first three digits. In addition, you can associate multiple data validation alerts with a single field.
- Conditional formatting Now you can hide or disable a control based on the value of another control on the form. For example, you can specify that a text box for a driver's license number should be read-only unless the user enters an appropriate age into another control on the form. In addition, you can now specify conditional formatting (conditional formatting: The process of changing the appearance of a control, including its visibility and read-write state, based on values entered into the form.) for a wider variety of controls, including date pickers, buttons, and check boxes.
- Rules You can specify conditions and actions, called rules, that automatically perform tasks based on events and values in the form. You can use rules to replace tasks you would have otherwise accomplished by writing script. For example, you can use rules to automatically open or close a form, fill in a value in a field, switch views, show a dialog box, or query or submit data to a data connection (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.).
- Enhanced XML Schema support InfoPath now supports the following 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.) structures: abstract types; abstract elements and substitution groups; required wildcard (<any>); repeating or optional model groups (sequence, choice, group, and all with minOccurs or maxOccurs other than 1); and inline schemas. In addition, if you design a form based on an existing XML Schema, and that XML Schema has been changed outside of InfoPath, you can update your form with the new XML Schema.
Improved support for data connections
By connecting your form to 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 database of employee information, you can include sophisticated functionality in your forms, including dynamic list boxes and offline data stores. The service pack offers the following new types of data connections and improvements to existing data connections:
- Secondary data sources In addition to populating the choices for list boxes, you can now bind (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.) controls to secondary data sources. You can then use the controls to submit data to and query the secondary data source.
- Web services You can use the Web services data connection to easily connect your forms to Web services that use ADO.NET DataSets to both receive and submit data.
- Windows SharePoint Services libraries and lists The Microsoft Windows SharePoint™ Services library or list data connection enables you design a form that receives data from a SharePoint form library (form library: A folder in which a collection of forms based on the same template is stored and shared. Each form in a form library is associated with user-defined information that is displayed in the content listing for that library.) or list. For example, the entries shown in a list box can come directly from items in a form library. In addition, you can create data connections that allow users to submit completed forms to a SharePoint form library.
- E-mail submission You can design a form so that users can click Submit on the File menu to send their completed form as an attachment in an e-mail message. The e-mail addresses, subject line, and file name of the attachment can all be predefined—either with static values or values based on entries in the form.
- Other submit options You can now submit a specific field (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.) or group (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, just the contents of a field or group in the form, or the entire InfoPath form (including the processing instructions (processing instructions: Information stored in the prologue of an XML document. This information is passed through the XML parser to any application that uses the XML document.)) to a Web service. In addition, you can submit the form's data as a string, which enables you to submit digitally signed data. You can also design forms that can be submitted to multiple locations. For example, you can submit a single form as an e-mail message and submit part of the same form to a Web service.
Enhanced options for layout and printing
If you install the service pack, you can take advantage of improved layout, formatting, and printing options. The following list outlines some of these improvements:
- Font and paragraph formatting You can now type values into the Font Size box, and define spacing and indentation options for paragraphs.
- Headers and footers The service pack improves the way you add and format headers and footers. For example, you can now specify a particular font to use for header or footer text.
- Printing When designing a form, you can define additional printing options for your users, including the number of copies, collation, print range, printer name, page margins, paper size, paper source, and page breaks. You can also display a page width guide that enables you to see whether the contents of a form will fit on a printed page. If you're familiar with Extensible Markup Language (XML) (Extensible Markup Language (XML): A condensed form of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) that enables developers to create customized tags that offer flexibility in organizing and presenting information.), you can further control the way your forms print by designing and designating print views for use in Microsoft Office Word 2003.
- Additional formatting tools InfoPath now includes the Format Painter tool, so that you can quickly copy the formatting from text and other controls. You can also use the Symbol dialog box to insert symbols or the table drawing tool to draw a complex table—for example, one that contains cells of different heights or a varying number of columns per row.
Better integration with existing business processes
The act of filling out a form is often one step in a larger business process that involves other tools, processes, or people. The service pack enhances support for forms that are part of a business process by including or improving the following features:
- Digital signatures When filling out forms, users can now sign specific sets of data, insert and see digital signatures (digital signature: An electronic, encryption-based stamp of authentication on a form or a section of a form. This signature confirms that the form or section originated from the signer and has not been altered.), and view a form as it looked when it was signed. In addition, users can add comments to their digital signatures. Form designers can specify whether to allow multiple digital signatures for a form, and whether those signatures should be co-signed (in which case each signature is independent of the other signatures) or counter-signed (in which case each signature signs the form, as well as the signatures that precede it).
- User roles When designing a form, you can create categories, called 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.), and then assign users to those roles. This is helpful when you want to change a form's 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.) or the behavior of certain controls based on the role of a particular user. For example, in an expense report form, managers and employees might see different versions of the same form.
- Human Workflow Services Human Workflow Services (HWS) is an information worker service that comes with Microsoft BizTalk® Server 2004. Companies can use HWS to create business processes that users can interact with by using programs like InfoPath. When filling out a form in InfoPath, users can activate an HWS action and respond to HWS tasks by using the Workflow task pane. For example, a user can simply click a button on the Workflow task pane to assign a form to his or her manager for review.
More feature enhancements
The service pack also includes support for the following features:
- Managed code support Developers can now install the new Microsoft Office InfoPath™ 2003 Toolkit for Visual Studio® .NET. The toolkit provides integration features and documentation so that you can use Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 to create, debug, and build InfoPath forms that use Microsoft Visual C#® or Microsoft Visual Basic® .NET managed code. To download the toolkit, refer to the See Also box at the top of this article.
- Tablet PC support If you use a Tablet PC, you can write directly in fields on a form and InfoPath will automatically transform the ink into typed text. Depending on the design of your form, you can also add handwritten notes or drawings to certain fields, and then save the ink along with your form. If you design forms for Tablet PC users, you can now specify background pictures for ink picture controls.
- Publishing options After designing your form, you can send it to others as an attachment in a Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003 e-mail message. In addition, you can now design and publish forms in design mode at the Full Trust security level.
- Form management The new Fill Out a Form dialog box appears whenever you open InfoPath. You can use the options in this dialog box to easily organize, locate, open, and update your forms. This dialog box is optional; if you don't like it, you can turn it off.
- Feature access You can prevent users from gaining access to certain toolbar buttons and menu commands on a form, including the Save, Save As, Export to, and Print options. This can be useful if you want users to only be able to submit a form.
- Enhanced language support You can now create and edit forms that contain text in Indic, South Asian, and right-to-left (right-to-left: Refers to keyboard settings, document views, user interface objects, and the direction in which text is displayed. Arabic and Hebrew are right-to-left languages.) languages.