Using SharePoint Online for InfoPath Forms Services

Introduction

Today I thought it would be fun to do more research on what InfoPath looks like in the cloud. There had been a few hints about Forms Services running on SharePoint Online and some people were suggesting that it would only work once Office365 came out. Today I started a BPOS trial at https://mocp.microsoftonline.com/site/services/bpos/signup.aspx?offer=suite&quoteid=067303dd-bef3-4bc9-8f95-2b24c6dae143 and created a forms library to test out my strategies on InfoPath.

To give away the spoiler, I got it to work successfully. Apparently this is currently an unsupported feature (I think until Office365 comes out), but it does work. Here are the steps that I did to test this out. In a recent post I talked about how the license changes to MOSS 2010 no longer provide forms services as a feature when you use the standard CAL. But BPOS is relatively inexpensive so I think it provides a cost-effective replacement for the MOSS functionality. I found the documentation a little lacking on how to do this so I thought I would put together a walkthrough of how I got it to work.

Walkthrough

1. So the first thing I did was make a sample form in InfoPath:

2. Then I save it and go to Tools\Form Options to enable it to work in a browser:

3. Then I just have to go through a couple pages of the wizard to publish to a Microsoft Online site.

You have to authenticate with SharePoint Online at this point. Then the next page

Then choose the forms library from your SharePoint Online site that you want to publish the form for. In the following screenshot I show a couple forms libraries. I actually used a different form library for the later pages of this wizard called OnlineFormsLibrary.

 

Then you get a page that says the form was published successfully:

4. Then I wanted to show the form from my browser even though I had InfoPath installed. On the form library settings you can specify that you want the form to display as a web page which will show the forms services rendering that does not require InfoPath. Here is the form for specifying this:

5. Then you can view the form by making a new item in the forms library. Here is an example of my form being rendered through Forms Services:

Conclusion

So Forms Services does work with SharePoint Online, even with just a BPOS trial. This is exciting news. As far as I know, BizTalk cannot currently integrate with SharePoint Online for document library functionality because the WSS adapter web service does not exist in the cloud. The next thing I will try is being able to post the results from InfoPath back into a custom WCF service in the cloud. From there the data could be sent back into an on-premise hosted BizTalk server via the service bus. This whole integration feels like sending something from outer space back to earth but I feel good just knowing that at least it is possible. 🙂

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  1. #1 by Ben Cline on February 8, 2011 - 4:53 pm

    Here is a good summary article on what can and cannot be done (to-date) with InfoPath Forms Services in SharePoint Online: http://blog.vishalon.net/index.php/review-of-infopath-forms-functionality-in-business-productivity-online-suite-bpos/.

    Thanks,

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