One of the most important aspects of migrating a Notes application to SharePoint is form design. InfoPath is, of course, Microsoft’s primary solution for building data entry forms for complex business documents. Many Notes customers see InfoPath as the best choice for migrating Notes forms that contain user-friendly field layouts, non-trivial data validation rules, and interactive functionality such as hide-when formulas.
With SharePoint 2007, the decision to use InfoPath meant that you were forced to store your data as XML data documents, usually in SharePoint form libraries. Notes Migrator for SharePoint 5.x helped you migrate your Notes form designs to InfoPath form templates and also made it possible to migrate your Notes documents to whatever XML data schema you came up with. Unfortunately this was a rather heavyweight solution suitable only for complex apps that should justify the development effort.
SharePoint 2010 introduces a great new way to use InfoPath: InfoPath List Forms. This feature allows you to use InfoPath forms as your editor for list items. Now you get the best of both worlds: a lightweight way to store documents with custom schema and a great way to design custom forms for entering and displaying them. The experience for developers is now greatly simplified and even junior developers can design custom forms using an integrated set of tools.
The best part of all this is that you already know how to migrate data to this type of solution. The data is still living in a list, and Notes Migrator for SharePoint has been migrating data to lists since 2005. In fact you can take any list you have ever migrated to and (assuming you have upgraded to SharePoint 2010) you can press the above button and add an InfoPath List Form to it.
The new part that Notes Migrator for SharePoint 6.0 is adding to the equation is the ability to migrate your Notes forms to InfoPath List Forms. When generating InfoPath List Forms, you need to create your migration job and provision your new List with the correct schema first. (This is different than migrating to InfoPath Form Libraries, where you would typically generate a form template first and then generate your library from that.)
You can access the InfoPath form generation capability from the Designer Client using the new Designer menus or from the Migration Console using actions on a selected Database record.
For the new functionality, select the List option.
The form migration wizard takes you through the remaining steps for migrating your form. We will detail this in subsequent articles, but the wizard is actually self-explanatory if you read it slowly and follow the steps carefully.
At the end of the process, you get an InfoPath List Form that looks just like your old Notes form. Here is an example of a customer’s document in Notes and the same document in SharePoint.
As with our older “form library” form migration feature, the tool does an excellent job with the user interface but does not attempt to migrate formulas and other form events, so be prepared to roll up your sleeves and rebuild that functionality using your new SharePoint development skills. SharePoint 2010 makes this part easier than ever, so make sure you learn the new development capabilities well.