How to use Microsoft InfoPath Designer

Learn what the key areas are in InfoPath Designer 2013, which are used repeatedly when creating and designing InfoPath form templates.


You can use InfoPath Designer to create and design InfoPath form templates.

There are only a few key areas of InfoPath Designer that you will be using repeatedly when creating InfoPath form templates.

This article lists the key functionality in InfoPath Designer.

InfoPath form template types

When you open InfoPath Designer, you will immediately be presented with the New tab where you can select the type of form template to create.

The main choices are to create a:

  1. SharePoint List form template
  2. SharePoint Form Library form template
  3. InfoPath Filler form template
  4. Document Information Panel form template
  5. Form template that connects to a web service or a database

Once you have selected a form template to start with, you can click Design Form to start designing the form template. This action will display the design canvas in InfoPath Designer.

InfoPath controls

Once you have created an InfoPath form template, the next step would be to add controls to the form template, so that users can enter data into forms and/or interact with forms that are based on the InfoPath form template.

So the next key area of use would be the Controls section on the Home tab on the Ribbon in InfoPath Designer. You can use this section to add InfoPath controls to your form template.

InfoPath rules

You may have placed controls on your InfoPath form template that require validation. For example, if a user can enter a telephone number in one of the fields you added to the form template, you may want to validate the format of that phone number. You can use a rule to perform such data validation.

Or, if you have added a text box control to the form in which multiple lines of text can be entered, and you want to limit the amount of lines that can be typed into the multi-line text box, you could again make use of a rule to restrict data entry.

InfoPath rules can be used to add business logic to an InfoPath form template. Business logic can include actions that regulate data in the form, validations to ensure that data entered into the form is what is expected, or formatting of data to indicate a certain state.

You can use the Rules section on the Home tab on the Ribbon in InfoPath Designer to add rules to your form template.

Rules can also run when an InfoPath form loads or when it is submitted. To access or add rules to the Form Load or Form Submit event of a form, visit the Rules section on the Data tab on the Ribbon in InfoPath Designer. There you will also find a command to open and use the Rule Inspector in InfoPath.

InfoPath data connections

While you can add controls to an InfoPath form template so that users can enter data and interact with a form, a user does not always have to enter data manually for a form to be filled out.

You could also automatically retrieve data from data sources such as web services, SharePoint lists, databases, or XML files, and then use this data to fill out the form. An example of this would be to populate a drop-down list box with items.

You can use data connections to connect to external data sources from within InfoPath forms to retrieve data. You can add such data connections in InfoPath Designer via the Get External Data section of the Data tab on the Ribbon.

A second group of data connections, which are located under the Submit Form section of the Data tab on the Ribbon in InfoPath Designer can be used to add connections for sending or submitting data.

InfoPath views

A view is a canvas on which you place controls. An InfoPath form always has at least one view, and you can add more views to it if you wish. Views are useful to use when you want to split data up and display it on several "pages" of an InfoPath form and you can use them in special display situations.

The reason why you would want to add more views to an InfoPath form template could be for example if you wanted to create a print view to be able to print an InfoPath form in a desired format or with a desired look and feel; if you wanted to make all controls on a view read-only; if you wanted to create a tabbed interface for an InfoPath form; or if you wanted to send an email via an InfoPath form.

To add a view to an InfoPath form template, visit the Views section of the Page Design tab on the Ribbon in InfoPath Designer. Views contribute to the look and feel of an InfoPath form, which is why they are located on the same tab on the Ribbon in InfoPath Designer as things like themes (which provide color schemes for InfoPath forms) and page layouts (which provide a way to present and organize data on a view).

Publishing InfoPath form templates

Once you have created and designed an InfoPath form template, the last step - although not absolutely required - would be to publish the InfoPath form template.

To publish an InfoPath form template, click on the File tab, and then on the Publish tab in InfoPath Designer. There you will see several options to publish the form template to a particular destination.

Note that while Export Source Files is listed as an option, it is not really a way to publish a form template, but rather to extract its files and save those files.

Also note that before you publish an InfoPath form template, you can preview and test it by using the Preview command that is located under the Form section of the Home tab in InfoPath Designer.

Final words on how to use InfoPath Designer

If you are not a developer, you can completely ignore the Developer tab on the Ribbon in InfoPath Designer.

While there is much more to say about and to use in InfoPath Designer, what I have listed above is the most frequently used functionality in InfoPath Designer, and functionality that is core to creating, designing, and publishing InfoPath form templates in Microsoft InfoPath Designer.


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Copyright: This article may not be used on web sites (whether personal or otherwise), copied, disseminated, altered, printed, published, broadcasted, or reproduced in any way without an expressed written consent. The techniques demonstrated in this article may be used within any Microsoft InfoPath project. This article is provided without any warranties. Copyright for this article is non-transferrable and remains with the author.