How to distribute an InfoPath 2003 form template to offline users in Office InfoPath 2003

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Article ID: 827001 - View products that this article applies to.
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SUMMARY

By default, when you create and then you publish a Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 form, a URL-based reference is used to maintain the link between the form and the form template. If the form template is moved so that this URL reference is no longer valid, when you open the form, you may receive the following error message:
"InfoPath cannot create a new, blank form. You cannot fill out forms based on this form template because the file has been moved or copied from its published location."
Note This error does not occur with InfoPath 2003 Service Pack 1.

Typically, a form template is published to a shared folder, a Web server, or a SharePoint Form Library so that you can open the form in InfoPath. Then, you can fill out the form from this central location. However, you may have to fill out a form template while you are not connected to the network.

This article contains information about four methods that let you fill out the InfoPath form template while you are offline. The "Send Form as Attachment" method only applies to InfoPath 2003 Service Pack 1.

MORE INFORMATION

Use Cached Files

The first time that you open a form on your system, InfoPath caches the form files so that you can work offline. Subsequently, each time that you open the form, InfoPath checks the original location to see if the template has been updated. If the original location for the template is not available, InfoPath continues to use the cached files. If you open the form one time while you are online, you can then fill out the form, and you do not have to reconnect. You can open this form while you are online from a shared folder, a Web server, or a SharePoint form library.

Publish the Form to a Null Location

When you publish an InfoPath form, the Publishing Wizard requires that you make a selection about where to publish the form. You may want to publish an InfoPath form to a file share, a Web server, or a SharePoint site. You must specify a location and a name for the form. Next, the Publishing Wizard prompts you for an alternative access path. By default, this alternative access path is set to the same location that you just specified. If the path that is listed on this screen of the wizard is cleared, no location is written to the form template, and the error does not occur.

Note When forms are filled out from a form template that has been published to a Null location, InfoPath writes the URL of the current form template location to the form. In some circumstances, this can cause the missing template error that is mentioned in the "Summary" section to appear. This problem occurs if the form template is moved, and then the form is reopened. Problems may also occur if you copy the form template to different locations, and then fill out the form from those locations. Because the URL of the current form template location is different in those files, the forms may not be compatible with each other. Generally, you must not publish forms to a Null location.

Use a URN-Based Reference

InfoPath does support a different kind of reference to maintain the link between the form and the template. The reference that is supported is a Uniform Resource Name (URN)-based reference. Instead of stamping a URL in the form that points to the location of the form template, InfoPath can instead write a URN in the form that points to a Registry key that in turn points to the form template.

A URN-based form must be installed on your computer by using a custom install package. The custom install package can be as simple as a batch file or as complex as an InstallShield solution. You can e-mail the solution to your users, and then your users can install the solution on their computer without being online. Because the URN provides a level of indirection in the form-template association, your users can have the form template installed in one location while you have the form installed in another location, and InfoPath can still correctly resolve the reference.

For additional information about creating a URN-based form by using the RegForm.exe command-line tool that is available as part of the InfoPath software development kit (SDK), visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=351F0616-93AA-4FE8-9238-D702F1BFBAB4&displaylang=en
To use the RegForm.exe form registration tool, you can open a command prompt, type the path name to the tool, and then type RegForm followed by the command-line options with their appropriate values. A sample command-line command that can create a URN-based form follows:
RegForm /U urn:MyForm:MyCompany C:\MyForms\MyTrustedForm.xsn

Send the form as an attachment

If you use Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 to send and to receive e-mail messages, you can send a form to others as an attachment to an e-mail message. Recipients must use InfoPath to open the attachment and either fill out the form or change the form design.

Note Before you send a form to others, we recommend that you publish the form to a location that is easy to access. This lets you update the form more easily and enables certain features to work correctly. The features that will work correctly are as follow:
  • Custom task panes
  • ActiveX Controls
  • Managed code
If you want to send the form without publishing the form to a shared location, you can digitally sign the form. This lets the form features work correctly and lets you send updated versions of the form to others by using an e-mail program.

To send your form as an attachment, follow these steps:
  1. Open the form that you want to send.
  2. On the File menu, click Send Form as Attachment.
  3. If you are prompted either to publish the form or to send the form as an attachment, click Send as Attachment.

REFERENCES

For additional information about a URN-based form or the RegForm.exe tool see the "Using the Form Registration Tool" topic that is in the Help documentation that is included with the InfoPath SDK.

For additional information about how to obtain the latest service pack for Office 2003, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
870924 How to obtain the latest service pack for Office 2003

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Article ID: 827001 - Last Review: September 22, 2011 - Revision: 3.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003
Keywords: 
kbhowto KB827001

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