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Frequently Asked Questions

What is InfoPath?

A tool to create online and offline forms to collect information.

What is SharePoint?

A platform for hosting InfoPath forms and other content, and for implementing workflows to manage forms and other content.

What types of forms can InfoPath be used to create?

You can create web-enabled forms, which are filled out online using a web browser such as Internet Explorer, or offline forms, which are filled out using the InfoPath client.

What type of fields (controls) can InfoPath forms include?

  • Text boxes
  • Text areas
  • Option (radio) buttons
  • Check boxes
  • Select boxes
  • Date pickers
  • and more ...

What presentation options does InfoPath offer?

Multiple views can be created for the same form -- for example, read-only and printer-friendly.

How is the data stored?

Data can be stored in SharePoint columns, which are easier to implement for non-programmers but place limits on reporting capabilities, or in SQL Server 2005, which requires more design work and specialized programming skills but increases reporting capabilities.

What should researchers consider when designing InfoPath forms?

Important considerations include:

  • Question/response coding
  • Naming conventions for data collected
  • Data validation -- for example, which fields are required
  • Conditional formatting -- for example, what range of values is expected for a field
  • Question branching logic -- for example, if Yes for question 2, skip questions 3-5

Can InfoPath's capabilities be expanded?

Custom programming is available in .NET to further enhance InfoPath's capabilities.

What is a workflow?

A workflow is a model of a real-life business process that automatically routes documents through a system. For example, after a form is initially submitted, a workflow may automatically assign the form to a research coordinator for review, and then to a PI for final approval.

How are workflows designed?

Basic workflows can be created with little or no programming using a tool from Microsoft called SharePoint Designer. More advanced workflows can be created using .NET programming.


An example InfoPath form.


Use conditional formatting to suggest values.


Use data validation to require values.