Forms are important.
SharePoint Forms are used for nearly all end user data input. We use forms for capturing vacation requests, timesheet entries, sign-ups, opt-ins, opt-outs, registrations, feedback, comments, reviews, ideas, expenses, help desk information, contacts, applications, speaker submissions, polls, tickets, tasks, and just about anything that requires user input.
You name it, and chances are a form is used to capture the information.
So why is creating a simple form and putting it on a SharePoint page something we need "sweet skills" for?
Why can't someone do this without understanding HTML, SharePoint Designer, InfoPath or Visual Studio?
It's such an innocent request. "Hey SharePoint-person, we need a form that captures (insert field names here), and we need it yesterday."
I needed a way to create SharePoint forms quickly and easily. It needed to be as easy as adding a Web Part to a page. I wanted it to post data to a SharePoint list, and I wanted it to land the user on a pre-determined landing page, like a "Thank You" or "Confirmation" page. I wanted to be able to teach someone how to use it in 15 seconds. I wanted anyone to be able to create a new form in 15 seconds. I wanted to be freed from the task of creating forms for everyone that needed one!
The Form That Should Have Shipped With SharePoint.
I've personally been using a custom Web Part for years to save myself a serious amount of "form building" time. Here's how it works:
- Add Web Part to page.
- Point it to a list.
- Pick the fields I want to be on the form.
This web part can be found on several pages of this site (our site runs on SharePoint 2013 and all forms were created using this web part) and you may download the free trial of this SharePoint form builder tool.
For me, simplicity was imperative. I needed a bullet-proof solution, and I needed it to protect users from themselves. For example, if the list has required columns, then these required fields are honored by the web part so the user can't unselect them. If it's a required field, it shows up! Of course, the ID field doesn't show up on the form because that would be lame and no one would use it.
Every form that I was asked to build was 'a beautiful and unique snowflake'. Each form needed slightly different things, so my web part allows me to optionally specify things like a custom Thank You Message, a specific Landing Page URL, different submit/cancel buttons (even hiding the cancel button), and URL parameters to pass to the Landing Page if I want to get all fancy and personalize the Landing Page. The Landing Page can be any URL and is not limited to only SharePoint pages.
I was hoping that SharePoint 2013 would already have such a web part built-in, but alas – no such luck. You need to be a developer or a SharePoint Designer guru to achieve this type of form wizardry.
This secret little time saving web part has been refactored into a product so that it might also save you some serious time.
The Smart Forms Module has received some noteworthy improvements.
- Email – auto-email form submissions.
- Forms with 1,2,3 or 4 columns – full control of form layout.
- New Form Builder Interface – improved interface for building your forms.
- Hidden Form Fields – pass hidden form fields with your form submissions.
- Default Form Field Values – easily set the default values of form fields.
Building SharePoint forms using the improved form builder interface.
Update: Wow, I just grabbed the walkthrough video to put at the bottom of this post and noticed it’s been watched over 15,000 times. That’s crazy for a 13 minute video. The updated SharePoint form building video is near the top of this page.
Learn more about SharePoint Forms.