Workflow Conductor Use Case (3/4): An InfoPath Survey – Publish or Perish…Submitting an InfoPath Form to SharePoint

Have you ever seen the movie Field of Dreams? "If you build it, [they] will come." Turns out, that's not so true with an InfoPath form. Before "they" will come, you need to do a whole series of things to let them know that "it" is even there. And even before that, you have to make sure "they" can do something with "it" once they find it. But don't worry: I'm here to make sure you understand your responsibilities as an InfoPath form builder so that your Field of Dreams (aka the Widget Corp Customer Survey) is a hit.

In part three of this week's four part Workflow Conductor use case about an InfoPath survey, aptly named "Publish or Perish", I'll show you how to publish an InfoPath form to a SharePoint Forms Library. I'll also cover a key configuration item, without which your form will perish: enabling form submission.

THE SCENARIO

In part one in our series (My First InfoPath Form), we established that a company called Widget Corp is conducting customer surveys through an independent survey company, and recording the results using an InfoPath form in SharePoint. Widget Corp management is very hands-on, and wants immediate notification about any "bad" surveys – something we'll handle in part four of our series with a Workflow Conductor workflow.

Parts one and two walked you through building one seriously awesome InfoPath survey form, which Widget Corp is eager to get in service:

It's time to send this survey form out into the world.

ENABLING INFOPATH FORM SUBMISSION

First, we need to make sure users can submit our fabulous new form once they fill it out. Go to Tools > Submit Options, and check the option to Allow users to submit this form. We want our form data to reside in SharePoint, so in the Send form data to a single destination drop-down list, select SharePoint document library. To configure which document library, click the Add button, and follow these steps in the Data Connection Wizard:

  1. In the Document library box, enter the name of the Forms Library you created in part one (mine is Customer Surveys).
  2. In the File name box, you can configure a unique file naming pattern for each form. Following the example shown in the wizard, let's enter a formula that will result in the form being saved with the customer name and date:

  3. Click Next, accept the default name of Main submit, and click Finish.

Back in the Submit Options dialog box, click the Advanced button to display additional options. I personally like my forms to close after the user clicks Submit, so choose the Close the form option in the After submit drop-down list, and click OK.

You won't see it in Preview mode, but now a copy of the form will always be saved to the SharePoint Forms Library when a user clicks Submit, with the Name automatically generated using the formula you entered.

 

EXTRA CREDIT: CUSTOMIZE AVAILABLE FORM ACTIONS

We want our customer survey reps to focus on getting good information from the customer, not on figuring out what to do with it once they have it. To make their job easier, let's make the form as simple as possible by limiting the number of possible actions to Submit and Close. I think this is actually a really cool InfoPath feature, so I wanted to make sure to point it out.

To select which action buttons appear on the InfoPath form, go to Tools > Form Options. I unchecked all of the toolbar actions except Submit and Close, as you see here:

There you have it, a fully configured InfoPath form, ready to be published to SharePoint.

 

PUBLISHING AN INFOPATH FORM TO SHAREPOINT

At last, let's publish the survey form to SharePoint so our survey company reps can get to work. Start by going to File > Publish. If you haven't done so already, you'll be prompted to save the form. Then the Publishing Wizard will start.

  1. Select the option to publish your form template To a SharePoint server with or without InfoPath Forms Services, and click Next.

  2. Enter the SharePoint site you created your Customer Surveys library in, and click Next.

  3. Make sure the box to Enable this form to be filled out by using a browser is checked, select the Document Library option, and click Next.

  4. Select the option to Update the form template in an existing document library, select the Customer Surveys library, and click Next.

  5. Ever wonder how InfoPath form fields show up in SharePoint? Here's how! You get to select which form fields get added as columns in SharePoint. I'm going to add them all, just to be thorough. Click Add, select a field name, and click OK. Leave the default option to Create new column in this library selected for each field. I don't want anyone editing my form fields outside the form, so I'm also leaving the option to Allow users to edit data in this field by using a datasheet or properties page unchecked.

    When you're finished adding fields, click Next.

  6. Click Publish in the summary screen. InfoPath will save your survey form as the default Content Type for new items in the library. When it's finished, click Close to close the Publishing Wizard.

I hope you were paying attention there, because you and the Publishing Wizard are going to become fast friends. Anytime you make a change to your form, you'll need to republish it to SharePoint using the wizard. Fortunately, your selections are saved with the form, so usually you'll be able to just click through each step without changing anything.

 

DISPLAYING YOUR FORM IN A BROWSER

Remember that option in the Publishing Wizard to Enable this form to be filled out by using a browser? There's one additional step to make this work so that our survey reps – who don't have InfoPath on their computers – can fill out the form in their browsers:

In SharePoint, go to the Customer Surveys form library, and then go to Settings > Form Library Settings. Click the Advanced Settings link. In the Browser-enabled Documents section, select the option to Display as a Web page, and click OK.

So how'd we do here at Widget Corp? Click the New button in the Customer Surveys library and fill out a survey to test things out.

I don't know what Panda Corp thinks, but if you got a successful form submission, great job! Remember that formula for the form name in the Publishing Wizard? You can see the results in the Name column. And those option buttons we configured in part two? Each option button group became a column (Quality, Promptness, and Personnel), and whatever rating you selected in the survey form is saved in the column for that question. Last but not least, remember how we configured the call reason drop-down list? You can see here that the Value – which matches Widget Corp department names – shows up in the Contact Reason column. I love it when a plan comes together!

Stay tuned for Part 4 of our series about using Workflow Conductor to process an InfoPath survey form: Getting Results (AKA "The Workflow"). You're definitely going to need a copy of Workflow Conductor for the final chapter, so make sure to download and install your free 30-day trial. If you missed out on the previous posts, you can check them out here:

Part 1: Workflow Conductor Use Case: An InfoPath Survey – My First InfoPath Form
Part 2: Workflow Conductor Use Case: An InfoPath Survey – Drop-Down Lists, Hidden Fields, and Option Buttons (Oh My!)
Part 3: Workflow Conductor Use Case: An InfoPath Survey – Publish or Perish…Submitting an InfoPath Form to SharePoint

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