2 Ways to use InfoPath forms as SharePoint forms

Learn which two core types of InfoPath 2010 forms you can create for SharePoint 2010 and where InfoPath stores the data you enter into a form based on the type of form you create.


While InfoPath 2010 offers capabilities to design several types of forms (SharePoint list forms, SharePoint form library forms, workflow forms, etc.), when you reduce the use of InfoPath forms within SharePoint to core functionality, you generally wind up with two types of forms.

Knowing what these 2 types of forms are should also help you better understand where InfoPath stores data - a question that is often asked by users who are unfamiliar with InfoPath.

Traditional web forms such as HTML forms and ASP.NET forms are generally used as forms that host controls and perhaps also provide some logic, but that are not used to store data in the forms themselves. They are generally used to send data to a backend data store or location.

InfoPath 2010 provides equivalents for such forms in SharePoint list forms and workflow forms. In general, SharePoint list forms and workflow forms are not used to store data themselves, but rather provide data entry capabilities and then send the data entered into the form to a backend data store or location. In the case of SharePoint list forms, the data store is a SharePoint list and in the case of workflow forms the location is a workflow.

So the first way you can use InfoPath forms as SharePoint forms is to only provide a User Interface which one can use to enter data in the form that will eventually wind up in an external data store or used by another process. The data is not stored in such forms, but is rather passed on.

The second way you can use forms and which is rather unique to InfoPath forms is to use the forms themselves as mini data stores. InfoPath forms - at their core - are built and based entirely on XML technologies, and the final product of InfoPath when saved is an XML file.

For example, when you create a SharePoint form library form, which is a form that you can submit and/or save in a SharePoint form library, InfoPath forms not only provide User Interface elements with which you can enter data, but they also store the data themselves (in XML format) even though such forms generally wind up in a larger external data store which in this case is a SharePoint form library.

In conclusion, InfoPath forms can be used in SharePoint as: 1. Forms that provide only a User Interface for data entry (such as e.g. InfoPath workflow forms or a SharePoint search form), or 2. Forms that provide both a User Interface for data entry and which serve as mini storage locations in the form of XML files.

The first type of form is used to send data to an external data store or location, while the second type of form is used to store data internally in the form itself as XML data.


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