SharePoint Forms-All You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to

SharePoint Forms
All you ever wanted to know about forms but were afraid to ask
Hi, I’m Jed
Not this Jed
Jed Lake
[email protected]
What are we talking about today?
 Forms!
 Options for creating forms in SharePoint
 Pros/Cons of each
 Pistachio Demo
So you need a form?
1. Ask Questions
2. Choose best form solution to meet business need
3. Build
Ask Questions
 What fields are needed?
 What field types are needed?
 How much data will be stored?
 Any dynamic behaviors needed?
 Security
 Who can access the data?
 Read/Write/Delete permissions?
• Where does the data need to be saved?
 Any existing data need to be accessed?
SharePoint Form Options
SharePoint List Forms
SharePoint List Forms - Features
• Set order of fields
• Specify data type, if required, enforce unique value, set length
• Validate input (using formulas and functions that resolve to TRUE,
similar to Excel)
• Calculate values
• Rich text notes with images
• Multiple choice and list lookup
• External content types
• Attach files to record
SharePoint List Forms – Pros
 Easy to set up
 Lists also include calendars, tasks, links, contacts
 Use common functions from Excel, including ‘If’ statements
 No programming or external tools needed
SharePoint List Forms - Cons
 You can only access up to 5,000 items in any single view
 Theoretically a list can store millions of items, but in practice the
numbers are far lower before lists become unusable (thousands
at most)
 Very limited layout tools, not very customizable
SharePoint List Forms
Bottom Line:
Good choice for simple applications that don't have too many
columns or records and that only require basic functionality.
SharePoint Designer
SharePoint Designer - Overview
SharePoint Designer is a full website-editing tool that you can use
to customize the layout of default list forms and add more
functionality. You are still working with the base list functionality,
and are editing the .aspx file that renders and controls the form.
SharePoint Designer – Overview Cont.
 There are three default .aspx files associated with list, one each to
add, edit and view (DispForm.aspx, EditForm.aspx, and
 Files are located in the same folder as their associated SharePoint list.
 Open the list in Designer, create a new form, and set it as the default
for the list.
 Additional features you can add with Designer
Show or hide fields based on certain criteria
Change the layout
Add formatted text and visual elements
Use additional .NET data controls
Change the XSL, HTML, or ASP code used by the form
SharePoint Designer - Pros
 Designer is a free download from Microsoft
 You don't have to be a programmer to use the tool, and can
create a better UI experience fairly easily
 You can also use Designer to create workflows using a simple
SharePoint Designer - Cons
 You need to understand how SharePoint is structured and stores files
 You can't implement advanced features such as related child records
without programming
 You are still restricted by size limitations inherent in SharePoint lists
 In SharePoint Designer 2013, the design view is no longer available
 You can no longer create full-featured data view Web Parts (DVWPs) to
display list-based content
 Simple page formatting changes will become much harder
SharePoint Designer
Bottom Line:
Use Designer when you need to customize the visual layout of
your forms beyond what you can do with lists alone, and add
some additional data control features. Your not going to get
everything you want unless you can write custom code, but if you
can write code you might as well use a better tool like Visual
InfoPath - Overview
InfoPath is Microsoft's dedicated form creation and editing
tool. With little or no coding, you can build complex forms that
can access many data sources. You can create multiple views
within a form and choose which one is displayed when the form is
Info Path - Features
 Offers form building wizards
 More out of the box controls than lists - repeating sections,
digital signatures and many formatting options
 Offers calculations, business logic and dynamic form control
 Supports file attachments
 Supports code to manipulate data on the form
 Can be used offline (collecting data in the field unplugged)
InfoPath - Pros
• Works well with structured data and external data sources
(through BCS)
• Visual designer for building forms
• Includes complex out of the box controls like Date Picker, File
Attachment control and repeating section
• Integrates well with SharePoint work flows
• Easily add rules to forms for dynamic behavior
• Doesn’t require any programming
InfoPath - Cons
• Not very intuitive to use
• Setting up form to connect to external database isn’t easy
• InfoPath requires Forms Services to run which only comes with
SharePoint Enterprise.
• Either upgrade your Standard or WSS edition or purchase the separate
Forms Server product
• Not great for complex scenarios like master detail views
Info Path
Bottom Line:
InfoPath creates forms with the features you expect for common
business scenarios, including access to external data sources. It's
a good option if you are already running SharePoint Enterprise
and your needs are fairly typical. It is not the right tool if you
need complex actions to and from the database or want
contemporary web features - you won't be able to do so even if
your a programmer.
A few other options:
• Visual Studio Solution
• Excel
• Access
• Apps (SharePoint 2013)
• Iframe
• 3rd Party Tools
SharePoint Form Blog Series
For more details and examples check out our blog series on
SharePoint forms:
3rd Party Tools
Create applications in SharePoint
Pistachio makes it easy to work with external line-of-business data within SharePoint. Use
Pistachio to search, report, pivot, drill-down, edit, export, and more. Pistachio can be used
to integrate financial information, budgets, membership data, or any external SQL Server
data into SharePoint. You can also use Pistachio to build a new SharePoint-based
application that stores the data externally. All Pistachio functionality is fully configurable
and does not require any programming.

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