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I'm creating a form for users of our organization to submit. Users will go into the intranet SP site, open and complete the form, then submit (or save it).

We want end users to be able to edit the data in the form up to a point. We don't want end users to be able to see other user's submissions or data.

Managers will need to have the ability to see the data in Excel-type "views" (different views for different managers) of the data, rather than having to open each InfoPath form one by one to review the data. This allows for report-type views of the collection of data.

I know InfoPath forms can either be opened in SP form libraries (as a web or filler form), or SP lists (create list connection in InfoPath to the SP list, then edit the form and publish).

My question is, which method should I use? Both seem to be very similar. With the form library, users open the form, click submit, and the form gets saved to the library.. and fields in the form can be promoted to the same SP form library for viewing the data in Excel-type views. With the list, users open the form, enter the data, and click save. The data shows up in the list, and again, can be viewed in an Excel-type format for review purposes. In the list option, alternatively, you may create a button on the form and have the form 'submit' to a document library (ahh, even more confusion!).

I've searched and read up on the main differences between lists and libraries, but am still unsure which I should be using. Can anyone shed some light on this? Thanks in advance, I really appreciate it.

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My general rule of thumb when using InfoPath revolves around if the form is going to hold any repeating data. If it is, then I usually opt for it to be stored in a document library. If there isn't going to be repeating data, then a list is sufficient.

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I agree with PirateEric. A forms library will only be required if the features of a list form are not sufficient. If you can make do with a list form, you can save all the extra work required to promote fields to library columns and all list columns are available to Excel by default.

Other advantages of a list compared to a library:

  • you can configure choice field options in the list without touching InfoPath, even after the form has been published.
  • A list can be configured so that users can only see the items they created. Managers can be granted permissions to see all items.
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My personal experience--you can easily manage multiple list items in the infoPath List template (meaning you can have your repeating field not overwrite itself each time a user inserts the field (needs secondary XML). However, I am switching to the infoPath Library template form because I need digital signatures and it appears the the list template doesn't provide that container function. It is also was a real pain preventing some of the repeating fields in the list template to not repeat. And you don't get a choice of non-repeating containers in the list template, unfortunately.

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InfoPath forms are generally stored in a Forms Library.

Basically you design the form at InfoPath then create a new library using the feature that is available in InfoPath (Publish to SharePoint). All the values in the form are displayed in a list format which you can administer. When you view/edit a particular entry, that will be displayed in the form. Displaying the form to the users can either be using the InfoPath filler or using the browser.

Hope this helps.

  • With all due respect, have you read and understood the question? It is quite apparent that the asker is aware of the basic functionality of a list form compared to a browser form and is asking for advice for which variant to use. You just regurgitate some stuff about InfoPath libraries that you found somewhere, but you don't even attempt to answer the question. – teylyn Sep 11 '14 at 9:46

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