SharePoint Saturday April 2012

Report
SharePoint Saturday:Boston - #SPSBos
The InfoPath Eco System
Marcel Meth – Principal MATHFT, LLC
email: [email protected]
blog: butdoesitwork.typepad.com
twitter: @marcelmeth
About Me
 Independent consultant: Principal of MATHFT, LLC
 Started at AT&T Bell Labs (UNIX®)
 Lotus Development
 Fleet Bank / Bank of America
 Over the years I have consulted for:
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/
Questions that I hope to answer
 InfoPath – What can you do with it?
 What is it?
 What else does one need?
 How does it work?
 What are the limitations?
 Who likes InfoPath and who doesn’t?
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InfoPath: What do I do with it?
 Bridge the gap between business and technology.
 In all my years I have never felt so effective in my job.
 With InfoPath & Related technologies, I can often build the
entire solution single handedly.
 I automate business processes:
• Listen carefully to the business user.
• Build a solution (incredibly quickly) – users are always pleasantly
surprised how fast I can give them a solution.
• Sometimes I coach the user to build it themselves.
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InfoPath – What is it?
 Started with InfoPath 2003; Microsoft’s decides to
compete with Adobe Acrobat.

Browser
Client
Most end users don’t know it is
InfoPath
End user must have Filler installed.
Need the InfoPath Server
Used to edit Forms.
Included w/ SP Enterprise
Included in Office Professional Plus
Can purchase separately
 InfoPath: Almost synonymous with SharePoint Enterprise.
 InfoPath is available with Office 365 (E3 & E4 plans)
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InfoPath – Key Takeaways…
1. Runs on a single row of a SharePoint list (or library)
and allows different people to see different fields.
Conceptually this is what is happening:
Person1
Field1
field2
Person 2
Field 3
Person 1
Person 3
Field 4
2. InfoPath runs well on many browsers:
• IE, FireFox, Safari (Mac), Safari (iPad)
3. InfoPath & related technologies (The Eco System) allows you
develop solutions without code and without need to deploy in the
back end.
4. InfoPath is best suited when used inwardly facing.
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InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?
 Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.
 What else is there?
• Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do.
• Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times)
• Workflow: An automated back end process that sends emails, waits
for approvals and responses.
• Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status
of their requests
• Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can
analyze data
• Permissions:
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InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?
 Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.
 What else is there?
• Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do.
• Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times)
• Workflow: An automated back end process that sends emails, waits
for approvals and responses.
• Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status
of their requests
• Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can
analyze data
• Permissions:
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InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?
 Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.
 What else is there?
• Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do.
• Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times)
• Workflow: An automated back end process that sends emails, waits
for approvals and responses.
• Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status
of their requests
• Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can
analyze data
• Permissions:
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InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?
 Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.
 What else is there?
• Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do.
• Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times)
• Workflow: An automated back end process that sends emails, waits
for approvals and responses.
• Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status
of their requests
• Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can
analyze data
• Permissions:
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InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?
 Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.
 What else is there?
• Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do.
• Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times)
• Workflow: An automated back end process that sends emails, waits
for approvals and responses.
• Landing Page: A page where the end users can check on the status
of their requests
• Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can
analyze data
• Permissions:
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InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?
 Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.
 What else is there?
• Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do.
• Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times)
• Workflow: An automated back end process that sends emails, waits
for approvals and responses.
• Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status
of their requests
• Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can
analyze data
• Permissions:
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InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?
 Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.
 What else is there?
• Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do.
• Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times)
• Workflow: An automated back end process that sends emails, waits
for approvals and responses.
• Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status
of their requests
• Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can
analyze data
• Permissions:
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The InfoPath EcoSystem
 There are numerous ancillary topics, that people think are part of
InfoPath. Numerous dimensions are “triggered” by using InfoPath.
Subtleties
in the UI
Landing &
Launch
Pages
Workflows
Reporting
Permissions
InfoPath
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InfoPath – Architecture (Browser Based)
SharePoint
WFE
+
Workflows*
Browsers
Analyst uses InfoPath
Client on her machine to
Edit the form template
Analyst
InfoPath
Server
End Users
IE
Firefox
Safari (Mac)
Safari (iPad)
*Workflows: SharePoint Designer, Nintex, K2.
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InfoPath – Architecture (2 Publication Models)
Front end deployment
Back end deployment
Analyst
+ Agile
- Not easy to repeat
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Analyst
InfoPath
Server
+ Repeatable
- Long turnaround
InfoPath – Lists vs Libraries (2010)
Lists (New for 2010)
Libraries
Easier to get started
Repeating Tables & Sections
Repeating Tables & Sections
Large text fields are straightforward
Embed as a web part to allow web
part connections
Used for custom forms to get user
input for Nintex Workflows.
Lists, Libraries & Browsers
Developed by my colleague Liga Vilcane
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InfoPath – Demo
 Demo
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InfoPath – How is it useful?
 Quickly implement a business process. (see next page)
 Highly functional forms quickly.
 NOTE: The forms are not completely robust & require
extra care to face an external audience.
• InfoPath works well when the audience is authenticated, typically this
is cost prohibitive with SharePoint an external audience.
• While InfoPath forms are highly functional, they sometimes miss the
polish and robustness needed for external usage.
- Back space in a non-text field
- People Pickers in non IE browsers & field focus
- No autocomplete
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InfoPath: What do I do with it? Some Examples
Finance
HR & Secruity
Travel Authorization
On & Off Boarding
Cost Avoidance
Medical Benefits Election
iPhone Requests
Badges – Guest
Tracking late payments
Talent Tracking
Car Pooling
Organizational Logistics
Business
Meetings / Internal Conferences
Hospital Tours (Audits)
Accident Reporting
Basic Material Requests
Near Miss
Patient Tracking
Employee Training
Legal Contract Tracking
Catering
Report Issues With Equipment,
Repair Staff Receives a Text.
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InfoPath
 Developers dislike it
 Business users & Subject Matter Experts like it
 Works well for
• A closed system of users, if you already have SP (Inside an
Organization; NOT a good tool facing the internet)
• Rapidly develop robust request and approval systems
(some limitations)
 No code required for most things
 Front end deployment is very rapid and agile!
 Really beneficial to have a third party workflow engine
(e.g. Nintex, K2)
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Levels of End User Expertise
InfoPath & Workflow
(e.g. SP Designer;
Nintex. K2)
Javascript, jQuery
Administrator:
Backend deployment
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SharePoint Web
Services & XSLT
(DataView Web Part)
InfoPath: What is it?
 Developers dislike InfoPath, business users love InfoPath.
Developers
Business Users
• No programming
• Difficult to create reusable
components
• Formula language is awful!
• Easy to use
• “Reminds me of Excel”
• I can get the job done very
quickly.
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InfoPath: What is it?
 A historical perspective
Paper
Excel or
Word
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Acrobat
(pdf)
html &
Native
SharePoint
InfoPath
(Browser
based)
InfoPath: What is it?
 A historical perspective
Paper
Excel or
Word
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Acrobat
(pdf)
html &
Native
SharePoint
InfoPath
(Browser
based)
InfoPath: What is it?
 InfoPath allows non-programmers to create nice looking
and “friendly” forms.
Native SharePoint Form
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InfoPath Form
InfoPath – What Can you do with InfoPath?
Feature
Examples
Improve Peoples’ Efficiency
- Context sensitive fields
Selectively hide / show fields and entire sections & pages
- Prefill with user information
Phone, address, supervisor, cost center
- Perform currency conversions
- Sophisticated rules for required fields
- Ability to grey out controls
- Cascading dropdowns
Apply Look & Feel
- Company Branding
- Use professional looking alignment
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InfoPath: Development Life Cycle
Gather
Requirements
Quickly
Prototype A
Form
Final Test
Launch
The most common bottleneck is that
stakeholders are unable to keep up
with the form implementer. Thus the
form implementer’s time is heavily
fragmented across many forms.
Refine
Prototype
until it is real
Stakeholder
reaction
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This causes implementation
inefficiencies, due to context
switching.
InfoPath: What people say about InfoPath
Before InfoPath Form:
Inefficient, time consuming, and inconsistent process that involved manual intervention of multiple
systems, too dependent on people remembering to do specific tasks
Now:
We have a form that resides in our SharePoint site for Managers
• managers input information once, and automated workflow notifications take care of the rest
• In 2010, it helped our teams to smoothly process 70+ resources
• In 2011, we processed over 165+ resources this year, with over 100 in the first half of 2011 alone
Benefits:
• Efficient – requires inputs from managers once
• Consistent – workflow notifications automate the follow up and next steps
• Results – high adoption rates and considered to be a credible and trusted resources.
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InfoPath: What people say about InfoPath
Before 2010 InfoPath Form:
• Orders were received in a haphazard way: by email, phone call, post-it notes, and
hallway conversations
• No consistency
• Errors were introduced at different points
• Tracking of the orders and changes was difficult
Now:
Solution was implemented quickly after a number of design consultations and testing
iterations. Controlled vocabulary introduced and managed with form list parameters.
Order options are now standardized and descriptive, requiring nearly no follow-up.
Additional changes to the form after deploying to production were introduced very
seamlessly and efficiently.
Benefits:
Now it is very easy to place and track the orders. The screeners who place the orders, and
the SMG staff who execute and deliver to the orders are very content with the new
system.
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InfoPath: What people say about InfoPath
Using InfoPath for our online request forms has given us the ability to customize
our interface in a way that enables simple use for requesters. Frequently users
are not particularly familiar with SharePoint and providing them with a simple
vehicle through which to provide their data/information has been key to
increasing our overall speed and workflow.
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InfoPath: What people say about InfoPath
In 2011, we used an InfoPath form to streamline and automate our International Travel
and Domestic upgrade authorization form. Prior to implementing InfoPath, the process for
gaining approval and getting ticketed was very manual :
1.
Traveler contacted the travel agent and reserved the ticket
2.
Traveler then filled out the paper based form provided by the travel agent.
3.
Traveler then gathered the appropriate signatures on the paper based form
4.
The paper based form was sent to the travel agent
5.
Travel agent then fulfilled the request
developed an InfoPath form to facilitate steps 2 through 5. This new process has had
fantastic feedback from the business and has expedited the approval process.
32 The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|
InfoPath – Key Takeaways…
1. Runs on a single row of a SharePoint list (or library)
and allows different people to see different fields.
Conceptually this is what is happening:
Person1
Field1
field2
Person 2
Field 3
Person 1
Person 3
Field 4
2. InfoPath runs well on many browsers:
• IE, FireFox, Safari (Mac), Safari (iPad)
3. InfoPath & related technologies (The Eco System) allows you
develop solutions without code and without need to deploy in the
back end.
4. InfoPath is best suited when used inwardly facing.
33 The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|
34 The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|
InfoPath: Resources
 http://www.sharepoint-videos.com/

,
 http://claytoncobb.wordpress.com
 http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/infopath-help
 www.lukew.com
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InfoPath: What is it?
 Who was the 5th
Marx Brother?
 What is the 5th
Office Application?
36 The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|

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