How to select InfoPath controls and Formotus InfoPath custom controls

The 7 controls you really need

When you open the controls pane in InfoPath 2013, you are faced with over 30 controls divided into 3 categories. However, you only need 7 of those controls to build a robust Formotus mobile business form:

  1. Text Box. You can build a complete form using only text boxes. Right-click a text box and get to know its properties. It can be read-only, it can have a default value, and it can be a multi-line box if the user needs to enter lots of text. But the most important thing about text boxes is that you want to avoid them whenever possible. It is difficult for mobile users to enter text on their on mobile devices, so you want to minimize the use of simple text boxes, and the use other InfoPath controls to create a mobile-friendly user experience.
  2. Calculated Value. Formerly known as an Expression Box, this control is similar to a read-only text box.  Calculated Value is good for displaying values or calculations in a way that looks like normal text.
  3. Drop Down List Box. Dropdowns are one of the most friendly controls for mobile users. You can use them just about anywhere in your form to offer multiple-choice answers instead of blank text boxes.
  4. Option button. Also known as Radio Buttons, these offer the same functionality as drop-downs but with one less tap. As a rule of thumb, use Option Buttons if there are 2-3 choices (e.g. Yes, No, N/A) and drop-downs if there are more.
  5. Date Picker.  So that your mobile users don't have to type in a date, we recommend that you add se a Date Picker control to your Formotus mobile business form.
  6. Check Box. The square Check Box enables mobile users to choose "all that apply" from a multiple choice list. It can also be a toggle workhorse. Add a rule to a control or a whole section that hides it depending on the state of the Check Box.  This provides your mobile users with , and you can give the user lots of control over what shows in the form as they are using it.
  7. Button. The power of Buttons is in the rules you create for them. Tapping a button can do almost anything: pop up a message, switch views, set a value, query a data source, submit the form, and more. And a Button doesn't need to be gray, it can be any color, it can look like link text, or it can be a picture button.

The 5 Formotus InfoPath custom controls

The most powerful controls that you can use with InfoPath don't ship with the product, they are InfoPath custom controls created by Formotus.  With Formotus InfoPath custom controls, you can snap a photo into your form, capture a signature or a diagram, or include a GPS location or other device info in your Formotus form.

The 3 advanced controls to use carefully

  1. Section. Sections in your form's user interface correspond to groups in your data source. Drag a group into your design, then all the fields in that group will appear as controls inside a section in your form. Sections are useful if you want to use a rule to hide a whole set of controls.

    Note: Nesting section-in-section-in-section more than 2 deep is not recommended as it can cause performance problems.  We recommend only nesting section-in-section, 2 deep. Also, we recommend you avoid optional sections, which let the user add or remove them which can create issues.  We suggest that you use a rule to hide a regular section instead. In general use tables rather than sections to control the visual layout of your form.
     
  2. Repeating Section. Repeating sections let the user add as many instances of a section as needed. This is useful for situations where the mobile user needs to answer the same set of questions an indeterminate number of times, such as an inspection of an apartment complex. 

Note: Formotus InfoPath custom controls can be tricky to work with inside repeating sections. Try not to make any changes to the control after inserting it. If you encounter problems, try removing the control and inserting a new one. Also, be aware that allowing the user to insert an unlimited number of photos can cause problems if the form becomes too big. 

  1.  Repeating Table. Similar to a Repeating Section but in table form, a Repeating Table allows the mobile user to add as many rows to a table as needed. This is useful for use cases such as taking inventory, invoicing, expense reports, etc.

Note: The note above about Repeating Section applies to Repeating Table as well.

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