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SP Designer Forms – View, Update

Posted by sharepoinTony on July 7, 2009

A new request came in recently. A department wanted a form that anyone could use to submit suggestions.  They want the form to update a list so the suggestions could be tracked. Oh, the suggestions will need to be reviewed by the “boss” so he can approve any work that might be needed to implement the suggestion.  Oh yeah, before the boss looks at these there should be a designated reviewer to filter some of the suggestions so the boss doesn’t have to see duplicates or things that are simply inappropriate for this suggestion pool.

Doesn’t sound tough.

By the way, they also want an email notification when a new suggestion comes in so the “reviewer” knows she has to go check the list.  It would be nice if the reviewer didn’t have to “mess” with the SharePoint list, just see only what needs her review. Also, she needs to indicate (somehow) that the boss has things to review, since he doesn’t want to see every suggestion as they come in. He does want a reminder, via email, every now and then after a few suggestions have collected in the pool (list). Of course he only wants to see the items that the reviewer has already filtered through, none of the rejections.

Once the boss decides that the suggestion is worthy and approves it, he also may have some comments or directives, and he may want to route it to some other department. If the suggestion is ‘approved’ and work needs to be done, then we should have a place to track some notes on this item, and a status to track the item through the whole process.

Still not to difficult for SharePoint.

My thoughts ranged from standard approval workflow to custom InfoPath forms. But I chose to use SharePoint Designer (SPD) to create a series of forms based on a custom list. Why? One reason is because the users don’t really want to interact with a SharePoint List. Another is because there is a good chance that they need a list and not a form library (I can’t go into all of the details here). And the final reason for the purpose of this blog is “just because”. I won’t go into the entire setup, today, but I do want to get one important gem posted that may be helpful to others.

That gem is:

You can create the form based on the custom list, and set some of the fields to display as text, so that your reviewer cannot change those columns in the list. They only update the columns you want them to update, and can’t mess with the other columns (from the form).  This relies on the laziness of your users…if they want to go find the list there is nothing stopping them.   [side-note: I generally hide the list from the Quick Launch and provide easy to find links to the forms.]

How do you do this?

  1. After inserting your chosen columns from the data source, right-click on a column in SPD in Design view.  The Common xsl:value-of Tasks window pops up (it may also display as “Common FormField Tasks”).  It should display the Data Field and Format as options.

    Inserted Column Form Properties

    Inserted Column Form Properties

  2. For the columns you want to display and not allow editing, select Rich Text in the Format as option.  (that is, change it from “List form field” to “Text” or “Rich Text”)
  3. Save your form and test.  It should now display the columns as un-editable text while other columns in that item row remain editable.

Another “nice” thing to do in your form, if you are using Multiple Item views, is to alternate shading the item rows to make them easier on the eyes.  Use Conditional Formatting and apply the style when the Row Number is Odd (or even if you prefer).

Overview of how I accomplished the desired behavior:

  1. Create a custom list with the necessary columns for the primary purpose and the management of this process
  2. Create SPD forms for:
    • Submitting a suggestion
    • Reviewing suggestions
    • Approving suggestions
    • User viewing of “active” suggestions
  3. Create a workflow to notify “reviewers” when new suggestions are submitted
  4. Create a button for “reviewers” to click when they want the boss to be notified that it is time to look at the suggestions (SPD form button sends the email)

2 Responses to “SP Designer Forms – View, Update”

  1. Amien said

    Thanks for the post. Really a nice thing if you dont want to use Infopath Forms..

  2. Amien said

    I have created two more fields in the form above i.e. i have created Manager and Supervisor field which will show the Manager and Supervisor of the respective User who has logged-In. Can u help me out in pulling the data from my list where i have saved the manager and supervisor of all the users.

    Some of the Managers are supervisors too.

    A user can be a manager or Supervisor.

    I need to filter the data. Can u help me out pls.

    Reply soon.

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