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Designing a New Template Part

Designing a template part is just as easy as designing a new blank form. In fact, you design a template part the same way you would design a form template. Let's look at an example. Let's say that you work in the IT department at the MOI Consulting Corporation. MOI has a mandate that all forms that collect address information should follow a standardized format and data structure for that part of the form. Figures 10.1 and 10.2 show the format and data structure, respectively. (These figures should look very familiar to you since this is the address block from the MOI employment application form we used in earlier chapters.) Until now, everybody at MOI who has created a form has either had to recreate this part of the form template from scratch or copy an existing form template and remove all the nonrelevant parts. Being the innovative form designer that you are, you figure out a way to make this process easier for everybody in the company—you create an address block template part. Let's look at the process for creating this component.

Figure 10.1

Figure 10.1 Address block section of the MOI employment application form

Figure 10.2

Figure 10.2 Data source for the address block template part

The first step (after starting InfoPath, obviously) is to open the Design a Form Template dialog as you normally would when designing a new form template. One thing you'll do differently, though, is to select the Template Part option at the top of the dialog, at which point the dialog changes to look like the one shown in Figure 10.3. Notice that the Based on section of the dialog looks a bit different. Only the Blank and XML or Schema options appear. This is because when designing a template part, you can either create a new blank template part or base it on an existing XML file or schema. It's not possible to base your template part on a Web service, database, or connection library as you can when designing a form template.

Figure 10.3

Figure 10.3 Design a Form Template dialog with Template Part option selected

Since MOI Consulting has a required data structure for address blocks in forms, it seems natural that you would want to create your template part based on an existing schema. However, if you don't have an existing schema or you want to create one for your address block, you can create a new blank template part. So, let's select the Blank option from the Based on section of the dialog and then click the OK button. When you do so, InfoPath opens in design mode with a completely new template part that contains nothing in the view or data source. We'll add controls to the view next, which will also create the data structure we require for this address block template part.

Template Part Design Mode

When you open InfoPath in design mode when designing a template part, at first everything looks the same as it does when designing a normal form template. However, as you look around you will notice subtle differences. For example, if you look at the Design Tasks task pane (Figure 10.4), you'll notice that it doesn't contain all the design tasks that it normally does when you are designing a form template—the Views and Publish Form Template tasks are missing.

Figure 10.4

Figure 10.4 Design Tasks pane when designing a template part

To understand the reason behind this difference, it's important to understand the concept of design targets. Whenever you open InfoPath in design mode, it can have one of two targets—form template or template part—which correspond to the option buttons with the same names in the Design a Form Template dialog. (Of course, in each case, you can specify that the form template or template part is browser-enabled. We will discuss this more in Chapter 14 when we talk about browser forms.) When you are targeting a form template, all the InfoPath design-mode features are available. When you are targeting a template part, only a subset of the design-mode features (those supported by template parts) are available.

For example, a template part can have only one view. So, the Views task pane is not available in the Design Tasks pane (or anywhere else, for that matter). As with the tasks in the Design Tasks pane, the entry points (e.g., menus, dialogs, and so on) for any features that are not available in template parts will be hidden. Table 10.1 lists all the features that are not supported by template parts and, therefore, won't be available in design mode when designing a template part.

Table 10.1. List of Features Not Supported by Template Parts

Unsupported Feature


ActiveX controls

ActiveX controls, which we will talk about in Chapter 19, are not supported in template parts.

User roles

User roles available from the Tools menu are not supported by template parts.

Information Rights Management

IRM is not supported.

Digital signatures

Digital signatures cannot be added to the entire form or to the Section or Optional Section controls.

Multiple views

Only one view is supported in template parts.

Word print views

Since you cannot create multiple views, you also cannot create a print view for use in Word.

Print settings

Print settings are specific to a form template and cannot be included in template parts.

Page settings

Page settings are not supported for the same reason that print settings are not supported.

Changing the view name

The view that a template part is inserted in is defined by the form template and not the template part. So, it doesn't make sense to change the view name for a template part.

Background pictures for the view

As with the view name, the background picture is set by the form template. However, setting the background color from the View Properties dialog is supported, and the color chosen there will be used as the background color for the template part itself when inserted.

Form code

Code (script or managed) is not supported in template parts.


You do not publish template parts as you do form templates. Saving a template part has the same effect as publishing in this case.

Printing multiple views

Since multiple views aren't supported, printing multiple views is also not supported.

Color schemes

Color schemes are defined by the form template in which a template part is inserted. Template parts will honor the color scheme of the form template.

Form Options dialog

Many options on the Form Options dialog pertain to form templates only. Therefore, the menu item for this dialog is hidden.

Designing a template part from a data connection

You can design only a blank template part or one from an XML file or schema. You can add a secondary data connection after creating the template part, however.

Form submit

It is not possible to define the submit behavior for a form template in a template part. This is controlled by the form template itself.

Form merging

It is not possible to define the merge actions for nodes in a template part. The merge actions must be specified in the form template. (Merging forms is discussed in Chapter 12.)

Form export

It is not possible to export a template part as you can a form template.

Mixed namespace editing

If you create a template part from a fixed schema, you cannot add new nodes to the schema. This is because template parts don't support mixed namespaces in the schema.

Now that you've opened InfoPath in design mode to design a template part, the experience should be very familiar since you've designed a form template before. So, let's create our address block component. As we mentioned, the address block we want to create is the same one used in the MOI employment application form. So, to make things a little easier, let's just copy all the controls and layout from the view in the employment application form and paste them into the view of the template part we are creating. To do this, open the employment application form we created back in Chapter 2 (which is available with the samples for Chapter 2 on the book's Web site), select the Address Section control by clicking the design-time visual tab for the Section control and then press Ctrl+C to copy it. Then go to the template part and paste the controls and layout into the view for the template part.

After you paste, you'll notice that all the controls have error design-time visuals, as shown in Figure 10.5. This is because when you copy controls from one form template and paste them into another, only the view features are copied. None of the data bindings are preserved. (In fact, none of the data-centric features, such as data validation, calculated default values, and so on, are copied.) However, this is pretty easy to fix. First, you have to create the data structure shown in Figure 10.2. (If you need a refresher about how to create the data structure manually, see Chapter 3.) Once the data source is created, all you have to do is right-click on each control and choose the Change Binding option. Then from the binding dialog, choose the node to which you want to bind each control. (Of course, as you learned earlier, you can also create the data structure right from the binding dialog.)

Figure 10.5

Figure 10.5 Address block after pasting it into the view

Once you've changed the bindings for each of the controls, you have a fully functional template part that you can use in any form template. But before you can reuse this component in other form templates, you have to save it. In terms of what you do, saving a template part is no different than saving a form template. However, when you save, InfoPath will give the template part the .xtp extension instead of the .xsn extension used for form templates. This will be important later when you try to locate template parts to reuse. When you save the template part, the name you give the file will be the name you'll use when you install the template part into your Controls task pane, which we'll show you how to do next.

You've created your first template part, so let's put it to use. (In the last chapter, you learned about publishing form templates. You don't actually publish template parts as you do form templates. Saving a template part is analogous to publishing it in this case.)

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