I love summer barbecues. As everybody knows, there are just certain foods that naturally go together at a BBQ. Burgers, corn-on-the-cob, and watermelon, for example: I can't imagine a BBQ without that winning combination, and I can never resist piling a little bit of everything on my plate. So after a long summer weekend, when it's time to get back to work, I'm reminded that SharePoint, InfoPath, and Workflow Conductor go so well together that I just can't resist a Workflow Conductor use case with a little bit of everything. As a special treat, like having strawberry shortcake and chocolate pound cake at the same party, this use case will be a four-part series:
- Part 1 will set up this week's workflow scenario and start building an InfoPath form from scratch.
- Part 2 will show you how to configure several different InfoPath form fields.
- Part 3 covers publishing InfoPath forms to SharePoint.
- Part 4 will tie everything together with a Workflow Conductor workflow.
So fire up your copy of InfoPath, toss a free 30-day trial of Workflow Conductor on your SharePoint server, and stay cool by following along!
A special introduction: Since Bamboo Nation is starting to accumulate Workflow Conductor use cases, I think it's time to name the fictitious company that is diligently using Conductor to solve its business process automation needs. So give a big welcome to Widget Corp! I know, not very imaginative…but as you can see from our product features, entirely appropriate.
In this week's scenario, Widget Corp has decided to offer a survey to its customers whenever they call the company. The customer is transferred to an independent survey company at the end of their call, and the survey company representative asks the customer questions and enters the results in an InfoPath form on Widget Corp's SharePoint site. Widget Corp management wants to know immediately if there is a "bad" survey result so they can address the problem right away rather than wait for the monthly report.
SET UP SHAREPOINT
Before we go any further, there's some simple SharePoint setup to get out of the way that you'll need for this entire series:
- Create a list called Customers and populate it with a few sample entries. The list can be a Contacts list or a Custom List, as long as it has a column called Customer Name.
- Create a list called Departments. The list should have a column for a Department Name, and a Person or Group column called Manager. Populate it with sample departments and corresponding manager names.
- Create a Forms Library called Customer Surveys.
- We'll be using some features only available with InfoPath Forms Services, so you will need an Office SharePoint Server Enterprise License. Also make sure the Office SharePoint Server Enterprise Site Collection features are activated in your site (Site Actions > Site Settings > Site Collection Features).
CREATE THE INFOPATH FORM
Since my previous post about some nifty InfoPath tricks proved pretty popular, I'm going to go over all the steps of creating and publishing a simple InfoPath form right here. No laughing, though…creating attractive forms can be an art form (no pun intended), and an artist I am not!
- Start InfoPath and select the option to Design a Form Template. Base your template on a Blank form, and check the option to Enable browser-compatible features only. This will allow users without InfoPath on their computers to be able to fill out the survey form.
- You now have a blank slate. Literally. On the right, you'll see a list of Design Tasks. Click Layout, pick a layout that works for you, and drag it to the blank design area.
I started with a Table with Title, threw in some tables to organize my fields, and started entering and formatting some text for my survey questions. It's really no different from laying out a table in Word. Here's how mine turned out:
- Next, we need to add some form fields, which InfoPath calls controls. Click the Design Tasks link on the right to return to the menu of tasks, and click Controls.
Drag controls to your survey form as shown in the screenshot below. When you add the Option Button controls, you'll be asked how many option buttons you want to insert. Insert 3 buttons for each Option Button control.
After the controls are there, your form should look something like this. Don't worry about configuring the controls right now, we'll take care of that in Part 2.
If you're anything like me, you need some time to go perfect the layout of that table, find the best font, insert your company logo, etc. All worthwhile activities that will get you more familiar with the InfoPath design view. While you're doing that, I'll go work on Part 2: Drop-Down Lists, Hidden Fields, and Option Buttons (Oh My!). Stay tuned…
In the meantime, make use of your free 30-day trial of Workflow Conductor to check out some other Conductor use cases and information articles:
- Workflow Conductor Use Case: Document Approver with Multiple Approvers
- Workflow Conductor Use Case: Expense Report Approval
- Workflow Conductor Lookups, References, and Variables
- Workflow Conductor and SharePoint: Two Great Things That Go Great Together
- Workflow Conductor vs. Out-of-the-Box SharePoint Workflows, SharePoint Designer Workflows, and Visual Studio