Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Create Data Forms in SharePoint Designer, Part 1

I am often asked about options for gathering and displaying form data on SharePoint sites. As most SharePoint pros do, I often immediately mention InfoPath. Many times the inquirer will balk because of the licensing fees associated with InfoPath or Forms Server. So I introduce the out-of-the-box forms that SharePoint gives you when you create a list in SharePoint: a form for listing the data, a form for displaying a particular row of data, a form for editing the data and a form for adding a row. I then explain some of the limitations of using those default forms and how it is possible to get around some of those limitations using SharePoint Designer. For example, what if the source of the data is SQL Server or some other Relational Database Management System? Using SharePoint Designer, you can create a Data Form Web Part to view data from a variety of sources besides just SharePoint Lists. In the example below, I am displaying data from a SQL Server database grouped by a “Category” field.

It gets even better than that! You do not even have to be a programmer to develop a form like this…seriously. Over the next several weeks I will demonstrate numerous ways to gather and display form data on Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 using the features included in SharePoint Designer. I will point out limitations that you should consider for each scenario. The first post in the series will be displaying Frequently Asked Questions from a SQL Server database. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

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