Although we are still unable to put this into practice as we do not yet have the Enterprise version of Office 365, Rob and I have been looking at the program itself. The program, unlike previous versions, is split into two. The first is InfoPath Designer and the other is InfoPath Filler. InfoPath Designer, as the name suggests, is the program used to design and build the required form and collate the data. InfoPath Filler is the client side program used to complete or ‘fill’ in the form. It is also possible to create forms that will display in a web browser. In the Small Business version of Office 365, web based InfoPath forms are not compatible, however, it can still be done using this, the client based app. In order for this to work, you must deploy the Client Filler app to all users who will require it.
Building the forms seems relatively easy. All of the tools that are available to use are nicely displayed in the ribbon toolbar, as with all other Microsoft Office applications, and can be easily added to the form design.
We had been tasked to re-create an existing form using InfoPath 2010 in the hope of creating a form that looked cleaner and simpler to use compared to the current one. Creating the form was very straight forward using the tools provided in the ribbon tool bar. After adding all the required fields, we added a button control to handle the submission. In this instance we set the button to process the form and send the contents in an email to the person dealing with the information. The first problem we came across was making it compatible with the outdated portal (SharePoint 2003). After a little research we discovered that you could in fact save the form in a compatible 2003 version. However this only made the form compatible to be used with InfoPath filler and not to be displayed on the webpage of the portal as we had hoped. A little more research found that SharePoint 2003 did not in fact support web based forms. This again put us in a position that meant we could not test a web based form.
From this little test we have found that using InfoPath forms is not the best method combined with the current SharePoint 2003 Server unless you are prepared to deploy InfoPath Filler to all machines for people that would require it. We will continue to work with this feature when access to an Enterprise version is available.
Microsoft recently announced that Lync for Mac would soon be available for customers. Now we are hearing that Lync will be available for some mobile devices before the end of the calendar year. Lync will become available on Windows Phone, Android, iOS and Symbian devices by the end of this year, which will join Blackberry devices that can already use the service. Microsoft are rather quickly closing the gap of incompatibility between different platforms, but then this should be expected as Google are a hot competitor in this area of service. This will enable users of the service to instantly talk to any colleague that is online whilst on the move.
Today Microsoft has suffered a second major failure of some of its online services, including Office 365. The main outage occurred very early in the morning, however some intermittent problems have continued throughout the morning. Microsoft say they are still working to determine the cause of the problems, but believe that the Internet’s DNS address system is to blame. This is the second time that major problems have troubled Microsoft in the short time of two months that the service has been up and running. These two high profile failures in such a short period of time will no doubt make people question whether they can trust the cloud services over there own on premise systems in order to obtain the anywhere anytime work environment. Again this could cost Microsoft a fair amount of money if the outage time breached the SLA.
SharePoint does not have a built in method for extracting or reading data in an XML format. However there are methods to do this. There are three ways that you can access SharePoint List Data, but it depends on where the program needs to be run.
If it (the program) is required to run client side then you can use either WebServices or the URL protocol. The web services way is the most well known and easiest to use if you’re using .NET.
The URL protocol is less well known, but still very useful from say scripting or VBA environments.
If the program is required to run at the server side then you can use the object model and the SharePoint Query Object.
For more details on these methods, please refer to the following forum: http://suguk.org/forums/thread/485.aspx
The Office for Mac Blog has recently announced that Lync for Mac will soon be available, at some point in October 2011. This will give Mac users the integrated communications package they have been waiting for. However unlike the Windows version, which is free to download through your Office 365 homepage, it appears that you must have Office 2011 Standard Edition or above to be able to access it. Regardless of this, it is a great step forward to making another platform besides Windows almost fully compatible with the Office 365 service. Once the new software is launched, Mac users will be able to take advantage of; presence, instant messaging, video conferencing and voice functionality just as Windows users already have.