Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 is a form creation program for seamless data integration with databases, Web services, XML, or any other XML-enabled system. Just drag and drop controls onto the InfoPath formthe result is a data entry form with advanced controls that conforms to Microsoft's interface standards, complete with Microsoft Office 2003 toolbars.
by Ellen Whitney
Jan 8, 2004
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t's Monday. After arriving at the office, you fill out last week's timesheet (Microsoft Excel), your expense report (a handwritten form), and your project status report (Microsoft Word). When you print these forms, you notice that soon you'll need a new printer cartridge, so you e-mail a purchase request to the office manager using Microsoft Outlook. You also just brought back a book you'd borrowed from the company library, so you go to the internal Wiki and record that you've returned the book.
Paper forms, Excel, Word, Outlook, and the Wiki do an adequate job of allowing users to track information, but it seems there should be an easier way to gather, store, manage, and reuse this type of data across various applications. In fact, with your current suite of applications, information must often be re-entered in multiple systems, costing both time and data integrity. Of course, you could custom write or purchase several applications to perform these tasks, but these very basic needs shouldn't be a big investment of time or money to handle. There should be a single application that allows simple data entry and easy integration of the data to other applications. Microsoft recognized this void in their Office application suite and, last autumn, InfoPath 2003 was unveiled.
InfoPath 2003 will be included in Microsoft Office Professional Enterprise Edition 2003, which can be purchased through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs. InfoPath 2003 does not require Office 2003 and will be available as a stand-alone program. Pricing information was not yet available at the time of this writing.
Where's the Data?
InfoPath 2003 is an application that creates forms and shares data. At this point, your first questions are probably the same as ours. Where does the data get stored? What's the big deal; I can do that with Microsoft Access or Microsoft .NET.