Eric Richards' place of techno (as in technology) happiness, rants, and corporate love.

Browsing Posts published in April, 2006

Ah, I wondered what Adriana was doing… Formotus – eforms in motion

From The Duke Blog: Microsoft InfoPath! Another WoW!

A rewarding quote:

I can create a form that will run right out of a SharePoint page, and store the
data entered right into an access database! Sweet! I bet I build my first form
for my group by the end of next week! I never thought I would say this, but
Microsoft is onto something!

Thanks, Duke.

I do my best to take a short walk any day that we have great weather on the Microsoft campus. This time of year especially gives me a chance to enjoy all the flowers and to stroll along the wet-land path and remember Beau and the walks we had together back when I had just started working at Microsoft.

Today we had an event: Chinese President Hu coming to visit. Always a good chance to wander about and be a lookie-loo.

Well, the lookie-loo quotient had been exceeded by the time I reached the fun-spot across the street from building 36 and the police had yellow-taped my intended path. So my walk to the 16 cafeteria turned into a diversion.

I went around on the edge of the exercise field and came up behind some of the established protest areas. The main protest group, as far as I could decipher, was Falun Gong.

So I walked around, looking for the snipers manning the roofs. No luck. Walking down towards 40th one lady, not in a jogging outfit, broke-out in a run towards the circus. Not a good move. A security officer asked her to stop and walk around the taped off areas.

The Executive Briefing center was all made up – good thing it was such a pretty day. Big huge red banners with Chinese writing and nice red tapestry adorning the entryway.

So, it’s about 6pm and all seems well. Let me look at the window and see if Redmond’s scary armored vehicle is still there… yep. Here’s hoping that I won’t head home just when the motorcade revs up.

I hope I never have the chance to describe my own adventure like this: – Scott Hanselman – Tracking down a Trojan

As of late, I’ve been using the tools more for tracking down why more computer is slow and who is dorking around scanning the disk.

This, too, could be an example of a trojan. My only hint that a fresh-installed Win2K machine was infected was when I looked at the upload / download rate (I was downloading the security patches) and mused: damn, sure is uploading a bunch more than it should… hmm… oh, no!

That’s been my only compromise. And I keep looking.

Here’s an ondemand webcast link to our recent InfoPath 2007 overview: MSDN Webcast: New Features in Office InfoPath 2007 (Level 200)

My notes…

  • An overview of forms scenarios – yes, there are lots of places to create forms with Microsoft technology. And I think that’s okay. The main thing you have to realize is what the pros & cons are for each kind of solution and what is appropriate for our problem space.
  • Discussion of how InfoPath is integrated in other packages now like Word / Excel / PowerPoint / Groove and integrate with Access and Outlook. Synergy, baby!
  • So, what were competitive form techologies we now flip the view a bit given that InfoPath can be hosted within those technologies.
  • SKU discussion. Standard, Professional Plus, Enterprise…
  • Woof! That’s a lot of server technology.
  • 14:00 in – time to talk about InfoPath!
  • Yah! Reusable template parts. Secret: InfoPath 2003 had a way of support custom templates but it wasn’t fully baked so we never documented it. I’d probably be hard pressed to figure out how to load and use those files now.
  • Visual Studio integration! Wow! Look at all of those task panes up at the same time. VS integration isn’t just for writing managed code – you can just do your InfoPath form design in VS and enjoy that environment over the stand-alone designer.
  • Demo time!
  • Too bad that the addDays() calculation has to demonstrate -21… should we have just written adjustDays()?
  • TabletPC input scope work – better reco for your TabletPC users. InfoPath is still, in my opinion, one of the best TabletPC applications out there.
  • A win for users in drop-downs: display only unique names!
  • Form Deployment. Where do you want your XSN today? If it’s on SharePoint there are interesting new options.
  • Workflow integration with InfoPath – technically challenging because this is InfoPath hosted inside of InfoPath. The workflow UI in Office 2007 leverages InfoPath 2007 as the structured editing surface.
  • Ooo! 31:43 – Outlook / InfoPath email form integration time! This is a good time to ensure your forms promote interesting fields so that they can show up as columns inside of Outlook (in addition to columns on SharePoint, should the form be published there, too).
  • Q: backward compatibility: we take backwards compatibility super super serious. All your old forms should continue running in the editor just fine. By default, all new forms designed in 2007 will start off as being 2007-based, but you can throttle this down to 2003-SP1 compatible if you’re designing for a mixed environment. We might have gone option crazy to satisfy lots and lots of users but the end result is good.
  • Q: security design: our security model gets a bit deep in places. It’s a bit easier to create full-trust forms now in 2007 given that you can create installer packages from the client.
  • Q: supported web browsers: lots of work has gone on here. Check out the Channel9 video we did where Danny demos running Firefox with an InfoPath form loaded up.
  • Demo of an InfoPath form running as DHTML in IE: Wow, looks a heck of a lot like the InfoPath rich-client. Plus Gray notes the work we’ve done to avoid hitting the server with intermediate requests as much as possible.
  • 44:00-ish in: demo of the Outlook InfoPath email form folders. Special folders for InfoPath items – you create this special folder and then create a rule to send specific form instances into this folder. Your promoted properties from the InfoPath form now show up as columns in Outlook and you have the power of Outlook to manipulate info on these items.
  • Export to Excel! Way to go, Simin. It works great. So now you can use Outlook to collect and organize your forms and then shoot the data over to Excel for deeper analysis. Integration!
  • 47:00-ish – on to Word 2007. Word? That’s right. Want to edit structured information in Word? You can create custom InfoPath panels in Word now (the Document Information Panel has an unfortunate acronym).
  • 51:30-ish: the store explorer. Goodness. We’re getting deep here but it shows the coolness of InfoPath and Word both partying on the same XML data that comprises the document that the user is working on.
  • Q: sending InfoPath email forms as part of workflow… hmm… if you manage to structure the email message to look just like ours, but I can’t promise we won’t alter this message format in the future.
  • Q: InfoPath + Outlook Web Access – you’re going to have to save your attachments and open that way. We don’t have an OWA integration story.

Gray did a great job!

I’ve got to appreciate Julie’s determination: XmlFormViewer In ASP.NET Application

While my team has worked on breaking the InfoPath.exe rich-client bits into a hostable control, our Form Server team also took on the work to make the server technology hostable in ASP.NET pages.

So whether you have a rich-client need to host a structured XML editor or a thin-client browser need, we’ve got you covered. I can’ encourage people enough to take the time to understand InfoPath fundementals so that they next time you’re dealing with the need for a rich-form editing solution, you can just turn to InfoPath and save your self time and money.

Just what I wanted: KeepVid: Download videos from Google, Youtube, iFilm, Putfile, Metacafe, DailyMotion.

Whew! As a lazy programmer, I appreciate anything and everything that saves me time from hacking my HTTP pages / streams just so that I can giggle over a video later or stream it to my Buffalo LinkTheater…

This is more for my own personal reference than anything: I think I could be one big fat happy geek spending my time playing with all the tools and applications here: – Scott Hanselman – Scott Hanselman’s 2005 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List

I was reading Dare Obasanjo’s blog this morning waiting for an MSPAC speaker and hit the top of my “I feel so bad” meter: W3C Publishes XMLHttpRequest Object specification

First of all, I don’t like the W3C anymore. When the web was wild and Netscape was creating the BLINK tag and Microsoft was creating the MARQUEE tag, we needed a little bit of head knocking to get things cooled down and standardized. When XSLT was morphing and needed to be guided to help solve our dynamic view + data rendering, W3C was a great place to proactively brainstorm.

Their job is done.

As they continue to keep themselves busy, you get awful stuff like XSD – the very worse you can get from a design-by-committee specification that is so inelegant I regret everytime I have to crack a book to track down some obscure aspect of a naughty schema.

Now, they go and pull together a specification of the XMLHttpRequest object, something that’s the fundamental fun driving the AJAX / Web 2.0 world of re-enthusiasm about the web and dynamic solutions, and give zip zero zilch nods towards the original creators of the object.


Way back when (when as in when my beard wasn’t as grey… or grey at all) I worked on the NetDocs project, specifically on the group implementing the inbox, calendar, and contact views and the technology underneath to great the XML list data and render them. All that XML was grabbed via an XMLHttpRequest object instantiated as a WebDAV command. NetDocs was AJAX on steroids. Asynchronous, crazy, COM-loving steroids.

I sat down with my boss to hear an architectural review by Alex Hoppman on how the original OWA worked and their usage of this little object Alex helped to design: XMLHttpRequest object. Nifty!

Niftyness sticks in the programming world. When something is done well, it is duly appreciated and put to use. That’s what we did. Big time.

So I don’t want to go all Dave Winer here and demand attribution everytime XMLHttpRequest is glorified. But a specification? One with historical tracking and that points to other references on the subject? Yes. I expect due attribution here, even grudingly added later.

So I’ll go back to the “live” spec occasionally, perhaps even pop a pissy post to their alias. I think the W3C is ready to be shuttered and archived off. This is just another brick in the wall.