Plan what form templates are needed (Office Forms Server)


Updated: May 21, 2009

Applies To: Office Forms Server 2007


Topic Last Modified: 2009-05-11

In this article:

It is important that you follow some planning steps when you are considering what form templates you will need. Most organizations already have forms in use, and while some of these forms can be imported, you will almost certainly want to create new form templates. This article helps you plan what form templates you need to create. It also helps you understand which of your current forms can be imported and which must be recreated manually, and the factors that should be taken into account.

At the end of this article, you should use the Inventory of existing forms worksheet ( to list your current form inventory. In the article named Plan deployment of administrator-approved form templates (Office Forms Server), you will use the "Plan deployment of administrator-approved form templates" worksheet to record the form templates you will initially create, and the existing forms you will import.

Before you deploy Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007, it is important to identify what forms are currently used in your organization. Forms exist in many different formats, including:

  • Microsoft Word

  • Paper

  • Fax

  • E-mail

  • Web

  • Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003

  • Other software

Determine whether your existing forms are useful and effective. Some parts of forms or entire forms might not fulfill the purpose for which they were originally designed. Some forms might duplicate other forms. Identify the forms that you want to keep. Of the forms that you want to keep, determine which ones can be developed and deployed to Office Forms Server 2007. Determine if forms should be combined. Identify which forms can be eliminated, either by retiring them or by combining them with another form.

There are a number of reasons that an organization would decide to move forms from their legacy format to an online version. The key advantages for doing this with Office Forms Server 2007 are:

  1. Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007 provides a design-once model for both form templates that are viewed and edited in the Office InfoPath 2007 program, and browser-compatible form templates that are viewed and edited in a browser. All declarative rules in the form work identically when a form is filled out by using Office InfoPath 2007 or a Web browser. Similarly, all business logic written in a .NET Framework language to the new managed object model will run identically in both environments. This allows developers to design rich, complex forms once without having to worry about creating different versions.

  2. The Office InfoPath 2007 design mode allows form template designers to define simple validation rules, calculations, and conditional formatting declaratively, without having to write any code. All of these declarative rules run as is on Office Forms Server 2007 without making any server-specific or browser-specific changes.

  3. A simple deployment model and features for form template management are available. Office Forms Server 2007 provides a one-step deployment model through the InfoPath Designer and also integrates with the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 infrastructure to provide administration and manageability tools.

  4. No download or custom installation is required on the client in order to fill out a form.

  5. Office Forms Server 2007 can understand XML schemas inherently and can provide a rich, flexible, dynamic, and familiar user model for working with nested, repeating, and optional sections. Office Forms Server 2007 also has advanced capabilities for defining validation rules and applying them at run time to catch data integrity problems at the source. All of these capabilities are available when filling out InfoPath forms, whether in a Web browser or in Office InfoPath 2007.

  6. Forms are commonly used as a front end for a more complex business process where the collected data needs to flow through predefined workflow and server processes. Form fields might be mapped to rows and fields in a database. Office Forms Server 2007 provides excellent connectivity to Web services with built-in functionality that can let you consume data from or submit data to a Web service without writing a single line of code.

  7. Office InfoPath 2007 is built on the XML standard. InfoPath form templates are based on an underlying XML schema that defines the shape of the data captured by the form. The form is an XML file complying with this schema. Data can easily be retrieved from and submitted to external data sources. This is also true for forms running in a Web browser. Because of this standard data format, form template designers can directly manipulate the data captured through Office InfoPath 2007.

  8. Office Forms Server 2007 supports a complete managed object model for forms that can take a dependency on the Microsoft .NET Framework. Business logic written in C# or Visual Basic that takes advantage of this object model runs directly without recompilation on Office Forms Server 2007.

  9. Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 architecture allows administrators to take advantage of CPU and memory upgrades to both scale up and scale out the performance of Office Forms Server 2007 to meet demands.

  10. Office Forms Server 2007 is natively compatible with the dominant browsers on all platforms.

While creating the planning scenario and forms inventory, you might identify gaps where a new form template can fill a need. You might find that Office Forms Server 2007 technology offers new opportunities that were not previously practical or possible with current forms. For example, paper forms do not integrate with e-mail. A new form template that integrates with e-mail, if it is appropriate to your scenario, might be valuable. The worksheet in this article includes a section for assessing your need for new form templates.

You have a wide range of options when designing a form template in Office InfoPath 2007. A form template can be simple and short-lived. For example, a workgroup might create a form to determine who will attend a meeting next week. A form template can also be very complex. For example, the form template might:

  • Use form code.

  • Contain multiple data connections.

  • Require deployment by the administrator of the server farm. Understanding the complexity of your form template can help you determine the impact on system resources.

Questions you need to answer when you plan for Office Forms Server 2007 include the following:

  • Will the form template be exposed to anonymous users?

  • Will this be an administrator-approved form template? That is, is this a form template that can only by deployed by an administrator because it requires full trust, contains form code, or uses an administrator-managed data connection?

  • Will this form template use data connections to submit or retrieve data from external sources? For more information about data connections, see Plan server-side data connections needed for form templates (Office Forms Server).

  • How many people are expected to use this form template over its life span?

  • What will the average number of concurrent users be for the form template?

  • What is the expected number of concurrent users during peak usage?

  • What is the expected session length for the form template?

  • Will users access the form template offline?

  • Will the form template require a digital signature?

  • Will workflow be applied to this form template, or is the form template intended to be used in a workflow?

Use the Inventory of existing forms ( to list your current form inventory.

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