Customize the Document Information Panel
The DIP is that little panel that is displayed across the top of an Office file that lives in SharePoint. This panel displays metadata related to that file, and can be customized to use company colors, add graphics, or rearrange fields. When creating a new form in InfoPath Designer 2010, simply click “Document Information Panel” in the section called “Advanced Form Templates.” Then you will be prompted to enter the URL of the location that needs to be customized.

InfoPath Form Web Part
In SharePoint, Web parts are the little modules that we use to display information on Web pages. The new InfoPath form Web part allows you to pick an existing form on the site and display that form as a Web part on the page. This allows site visitors to have a very quick and convenient way of filling out a form and submitting it. Even regular SharePoint list forms that have been converted to InfoPath can be used in this Web part.

Now that you have an understanding of all of the places that InfoPath can be utilized in the enterprise version of SharePoint 2010, you can see that having a good grasp of the process of form creation is a good skill to have moving forward in SharePoint 2010. InfoPath is an application that allows for form creation by non-developers, but there are definitely nuances and knowledge to be gained when it comes to working on projects that involve InfoPath.

There are simple concepts that are easy to pick up, but this application is also very powerful, with many advanced features. Here is a list of some of the concepts in InfoPath that may require a bit of practice and/or training to learn and fully grasp:

•    Making use of multiple views of a form for approval processes.
•    Submitting forms and using them in conjunction with SharePoint Designer workflows.
•    Configuring InfoPath form fields to auto-populate with user information.
•    Making use of optional sections in order to show and hide information pertaining to the current phase of the approval process, or the values in certain fields.
•    Configuring form load rules based on conditions such as the current approval phase.
•    Setting up the SharePoint site so that users can quickly fill out new forms, also presenting them with forms that are applicable to them.

So don’t let InfoPath fool you: It is an extremely simple tool for creating business forms, but don’t hesitate to take it to the next level and find how far you can really go in order to get the form to work just right for whatever the process is. At SPTechCon in February 2011, I’ll be teaching a half-day course called “InfoPath Immersion,” where you will not only learn the InfoPath fundamentals, but you will also be taken through the full spectrum of creating the form—and the workflow around it—in order to satisfy the requirements of a business process. All of the items in the bullet points above will be covered.

Laura Rogers is a consultant with SharePoint911.