How InfoPath uses XML technologies

Microsoft Office InfoPath is a Microsoft Office System application that is used to create form templates based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) and its associated technologies. XML is an industry-standard language for describing, organizing, and exchanging data. In InfoPath, form templates are based on XML technologies, and form data is saved or submitted in XML format. InfoPath makes use of the following XML technologies:

  • XSL Transformation (XSLT)

  • XML Schemas

  • Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML)

  • XML Path Language (XPath)

  • Document Object Model (DOM)

  • XML Signatures

    Note: You can learn more about these technologies by going to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web site and searching for each technology.

These technologies are governed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which recommends a specific set of rules, guidelines, and conventions for producing files that are easy to generate and process by different computers and applications. In addition to the XML technologies that InfoPath supports, InfoPath makes use of special processing instructions and namespaces, and has a number of methods for accessing the DOM through the InfoPath object model.

Although it is not necessary to understand all of the details of these XML technologies, the following table will help you understand how these technologies are used in InfoPath.




XML is the output format that is produced by an InfoPath form. XML is also used to contain the sample data that is displayed in the fields of a form before a user fills it out. InfoPath uses the XML version 1.0 standard.


XSLT is the format of the view files that are produced when a form template is designed. InfoPath does not support the use of XSL Formatting Objects (XSL-FO) for the presentation of XML data, nor does it support the importing of arbitrary .xsl files. InfoPath uses the XSLT version 1.0 standard.

XML Schema

XML Schemas are used as the primary means of data validation in a form, and they provide the underlying structure of the XML document that is produced by the form template. In addition, an XML Schema is used to define the structure of the form definition (.xsf) file that is generated by InfoPath when a form template is designed. InfoPath does not support schemas that comply with the XML-Data Reduced (XDR) or Document Type Definition (DTD) specifications. InfoPath uses the XML Schema version 1.0 standard.


XHTML is well-formed HTML and is primarily used when developing rich text areas. InfoPath uses the XHTML version 1.0 standard.


XPath expressions are used when binding controls to fields and groups in a form template's data source. XPath expressions are also used for data validation and conditional formatting expressions. InfoPath uses the XPath version 1.0 standard.


The DOM is used to programmatically access the contents of the source XML document that a form template produces. It is also used to provide read-only access to the contents of the .xsf file. InfoPath uses the DOM version 1.0 standard.

XML Signature

XML Signatures are used to digitally sign InfoPath forms. If enabled, each InfoPath form can contain one or more digital signatures. InfoPath supports digital signing of portions of a form, as well as the form as a whole.

XML processor

The XML processor is used to load the source XML of a document into the dynamic memory of the computer, validate it using the XML Schema, and produce the view of the document by using XSLT. The XML processor supported by InfoPath is Microsoft XML Core Services (MSXML) version 5.0. Earlier versions of this processor are not supported.

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