Different roles in the form design process

Different departments often work together to design, test, and deploy new InfoPath forms to employees. For example, the HR department might create a corporate expense report form, but the IT department might maintain the form template, fix problems that are reported by users, update the design as users' needs change, and so on.

This article describes the typical roles of the various employees who specify, design, publish, and use form templates. The job titles and responsibilities in your organization might differ from the ones described here, but if you are new to InfoPath, you can use the information to get a general sense of who does what in the overall form design process.

In this article

The form analyst

The form designer

The form developer

The farm administrator

The site collection administrator

The form user

The form analyst

A form analyst examines the workflow and the business requirements of a given form template. The person who undertakes this role typically has project management experience, analytical skills, and some familiarity with the principles of form design.

Instead of a form analyst, your company might have a business systems analyst or a project manager. While titles may vary, the role remains the same; the form analyst specifies the overall design of the form template after a careful analysis of the business needs, and then manages the project.

The planning phase for a complex form template is usually a formal and involved process, and the form analyst might consult many stakeholders. For example, if a form template must eventually be integrated into a larger, company-wide business system such as an expense reporting system, the form analyst will often write a functional specification or some other planning document.

In addition, the form analyst might do some or all of the following:

  • Specify the business case for the form template.

  • Define the user interface and the user process components.

  • Specify how and where to store the form data.

  • Identify security vulnerabilities for the form template.

  • Create a plan to deploy the form template.

  • Define strategies to archive and retain data in accordance with current laws, industry regulations, company policies, or other requirements.

  • Work with form users, form designers, IT personnel, and other groups to resolve any outstanding issues with the form template.

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The form designer

A form designer works in InfoPath design mode to create the form template, which is a file with an .xsn file name extension. The .xsn file defines the data structure, appearance, and behavior of finished forms (.xml files).

The form designer might do some or all of the following:

  • Specify whether the form template is compatible with desktop or mobile Web browsers.

  • Specify whether the form template is compatible with InfoPath 2003.

  • Design the form template layout.

  • Add and customize controls on the form template.

  • Add data validation, conditional formatting, rules, and other types of automated behaviors.

  • Establish connections from the form template to existing data sources, such as Microsoft SQL Server databases.

  • Work with developers to add script or managed code to the form template.

  • Publish the form template to a shared network location, to an e-mail distribution list, or to a server that is running InfoPath Forms Services or Windows SharePoint Services.

  • Work with farm administrators to publish administrator-approved form templates to a server that is running InfoPath Forms Services.

  • Test the form to make sure that it works correctly.

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The form developer

A form developer writes custom code for the form template. InfoPath supports two scripting languages — Microsoft JScript and Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript), and two managed-code languages, Microsoft Visual C# and Microsoft Visual Basic.

The form developer might do some or all of the following:

  • Help design the form, as described in the previous section.

  • Specify a programming language for a given form template.

  • Write code that responds to form and data validation events, accesses and manipulates the form's underlying XML document, implements custom data submission and merge actions for a form, or accesses external data sources.

  • Extract the XML support files for the form template, and then manually change their elements, attributes, and values in some type of standard text editor.

  • Add custom error handling to the form template.

  • Access and manipulate custom task panes and dialog boxes.

  • Maintain the code for the form template.

  • Use the Publishing Wizard to create a setup file form that installs the form template.

  • Host the InfoPath editing environment in a custom Windows application or a Web (.aspx) page.

  • Create and register a COM add-in, which is a supplemental program that adds custom commands or specialized features to the InfoPath user interface.

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The farm administrator

You can publish form templates to many locations, including servers running InfoPath Forms Services. InfoPath Forms Services is a server technology that enables users to fill out InfoPath forms by using a Web browser instead of, or in addition to, the InfoPath client program. Find more information about InfoPath Forms Services in the See Also box.

Farm administrators perform many of the administrative tasks for the server that is running InfoPath Forms Services, usually by selecting commands on a special administrative site called the SharePoint Central Administration site. In some cases, farm administrators must first verify that a browser-enabled form template is free from errors before they upload it.

To publish a browser-compatible form template to a server that is running InfoPath Forms Services, the form designer or the farm administrator must enable the form to be filled out by using a browser. The form designer typically performs this step during the publishing process, by selecting a check box in the Publishing Wizard in InfoPath. However, under certain circumstances, such as when the form template includes managed code, a farm administrator must enable the form template for use in a browser. This process involves verifying that the form template is free of errors and warnings, uploading it to a location on the server farm, and then activating it in a site collection on the server. Many of these activities occur in the SharePoint Central Administration pages.

In general, the farm administrator might do some or all of the following:

  • Work with the site collection administrator, form template designer, and any other stakeholders to deploy administrator-approved form templates.

  • Upload an admistrator-approved form template to the server.

  • Upgrade new administrator-approved form templates.

  • Activate administrator-approved form templates to a site collection by adding the form template to a site collection.

  • Deactivate administrator-approved form templates from a site collection.

  • Quiesce administrator-approved form templates.

  • Delete administrator-approved form templates.

  • Develop strategies to minimize the inappropriate use of form templates, to prevent Denial of Service (DoS) exploits, and to be alert to potential performance issues.

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The site collection administrator

A site collection is a set of SharePoint sites that have the same owner and share administration settings. Each site collection contains a top-level Web site along with one or more subsites. Site collection administrators have the Full Control permission level on all Web sites and content in a site collection.

While the farm administrator manages one or more servers that are running InfoPath Forms Services, the site collection administrator manages the sites themselves. From the site collection level, site collection administrators manage settings (such as site collection features, site collection audit settings, and site collection policies) from the Site Settings page for the top-level site. Relative to InfoPath, site collection administrators activate form templates and thus make them available for use as content types in a library.

The site collection administrator might do some or all of the following:

  • Work with the farm administrator, form template designer, and any other stakeholders to deploy administrator-approved form templates.

  • Perform administration tasks for one or more sites in the site collection.

  • Create a strategy to take forms offline when necessary, in order to update or retire them.

  • Activate a form template to the site collection.

  • Deactivate a form template from the site collection.

  • Force a given form to open only in a browser, whether or not InfoPath is installed on the users' computer.

  • Create additional sites and document libraries in a site collection.

  • Grant permissions to users.

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The form user

The form user is the person who fills out the form. Form users must be satisfied with the overall form design and workflow. If the form is hard to use, form users will not use it effectively or efficiently. Form users ultimately dictate many of the improvements that must be made to a form template.

The form user might do some or all of the following, depending on the design of the form template:

  • Fill out the form either in InfoPath (in the case of a regular form template) or in a Web browser (in the case of a browser-enabled form template).

  • Participate in testing the form before it is officially shared throughout the organization.

  • Offer constructive feedback about the design of the form.

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