Prior to joining Microsoft last year, I worked for more than 14 years as a Microsoft customer primarily in IT architect, development and technical management roles for large companies. Most of my recent work was related to building custom applications and forms on top of ASP.NET
One area that I did not explore much before joining Microsoft was InfoPath – especially what is currently available in InfoPath 2007.
With so many of my customers looking for ways to save money, go green and accelerate the development and deployment of new solutions, I figured it was a good time to write about my top 10 list of favorite InfoPath 2007 capabilities and solutions.
- Many InfoPath developers are not developers at all! InfoPath is a great tool for business analysts and “power users” to create forms with little or no code. InfoPath also enables the creation of reusable templates and the segregation of development tasks between traditional developers and InfoPath designers. Check out this article for more details.
- InfoPath can easily import existing Word or Excel documents into rich forms, which then enables the forms to be used as data input tools rather than just things that people print and then fill out.
- You can quickly use optical character recognition (OCR) software to scan existing paper based documents into InfoPath to accelerate the move to electronic forms.
- InfoPath forms can be built to target a rich InfoPath client and/or a web based InfoPath form running in SharePoint so users only need a browser to complete the form. The great news is that the design process is the same and InfoPath has a compatibility and design checker to automate the deployment and allow you to use the same form on a rich client or browser. There are a great set of InfoPath FAQ and roadmap articles to help you determine the right solution.
- InfoPath forms can be used standalone or easily integrated into Outlook, Access or Groove. For example, a person can complete an InfoPath form in the body of an Outlook email message and never know that they are using InfoPath.
- Using a tablet PC, InfoPath forms support inking technology to allow a user to write directly on an InfoPath form – another way of eliminating the need for paper forms.
- InfoPath forms can be designed to support offline usage which is ideal for using InfoPath forms in scenarios where a network connection is not available.
- Using XML technologies, InfoPath enables you to separate the data from the presentation device (e.g. PC, browser, phone) and to integrate InfoPath forms with back end systems and processes via web services, BizTalk and other techniques.
- Need to do more with InfoPath than is available from the InfoPath forms designer? Good news. InfoPath forms can also be designed and extended using Visual Studio and managed .NET code.
- Many customers and partners have used InfoPath to develop some advanced systems and processes that have helped them go green, save money, improve data quality and create more effective processes. Check out the case studies available to read more about what InfoPath can do!