Looking for some of our answers to questions we get a lot? Pull up the Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 Technical FAQ – if you don’t find the answer you need in the FAQ, please ask your question on the newsgroup microsoft.public.infopath where MVPs, experienced InfoPath users, and Microsoft InfoPath team members can all help.
One question that comes up often regards a no-cost InfoPath Viewer. Here are three Q&A’s in the FAQ worth pointing out:
Q. Do employees need to have InfoPath installed on their PCs in order to fill out forms created with InfoPath? Is InfoPath required for viewing or reading an InfoPath form?
A. Information workers will need to have InfoPath 2003 installed on their PCs to enter information into InfoPath forms and to take advantage of the rich client functionality such as structural editing, business-logic validation, rich-text formatting, AutoCorrect, and spell-checking. That said, you can read an InfoPath form that has been saved to .MHT in your browser or within an HTML-enabled e-mail client, as the body of your mail message. Because InfoPath generates XML belonging to any customer-defined schemas, other software could be used to reuse and display that XML document.
Q. How do users fill out an InfoPath form if they do not have InfoPath?
A. In order to fill out forms created in InfoPath and to take advantage of InfoPath’s rich-client functionality, data validation and offline capabilities, users will need a copy of InfoPath installed on their workstation.
It is possible to build browser-based solutions based on InfoPath forms. For example, you can build a solution in InfoPath (building a schema and Web services) that can be used for collecting information within the firewall, then use the same schema and Web services for building an ASP.NET solution for collecting information outside the firewall. For business solutions that require a “reach” (browser-based) solution, yet still use the power of InfoPath for the parts of the process that occur within an organization (where InfoPath can easily be deployed), there are two options:
- Use ASP.NET forms in the solution to front-end the process. Data is gathered in the browser-based forms, then moved into the InfoPath forms where available. This combines the reach experience for initial data collection and the rich experience of interacting with that information via InfoPath. Customers can use the same schema and Web services for both the InfoPath and ASP.NET solutions.
- Work with one of the many partners that have developed solutions based on InfoPath including Sourcecode, Teamplate, Ultimus and Cardiff.
Q. Do I need to touch every desktop to deploy InfoPath? Can you host an InfoPath form in the browser?
A. In order to fill out or design an InfoPath form, InfoPath needs to be installed on the desktop. However, once you have deployed InfoPath, you can easily roll out the form templates that users need to use InfoPath. InfoPath provides transparent deployment and maintenance of solutions via a Web-like model that downloads solutions on demand. InfoPath form templates are downloaded silently and seamlessly to the client when a user clicks on a link to an InfoPath form or clicks on an InfoPath attachment.
A process to create an InfoPath Viewer experience if read-only is all you want: note that if you just want to be able to have a read-only rendering of an InfoPath form beyond what InfoPath can generate directly (save as MHT or via an email body), you should take a look at the SDK downlevel tool (http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/ipsdk/html/ipsdkUsingTheDownLevelTool.asp ) which provides a way to modify your form XML to pull in a stylesheet to use for rendering the form when InfoPath is not on the user’s machine.