The Design of Software (CLOSED)

A public forum for discussing the design of software, from the user interface to the code architecture. Now closed.

The "Design of Software" discussion group has been merged with the main Joel on Software discussion group.

The archives will remain online indefinitely.

Outlook Forms for Offline?

I'm trying to find a simple and effective way of doing the following (btw this is in a corporate IT environment with standard OS, apps, etc.)

1. Assuming they have no internet connection, a user needs to be able to fill out a simple form which collects 3-4 questions.

2. Once connected, they should be able to send that form off to a remote server (via technology yet to be determined).

I've considered the following options:

-InfoPath - provide a form which works offline and then syncs up via web services when it's connected to push the data up to the server.

-Outlook/Exchange - Provide a custom Outlook form which users can fill out and submit. 

-ClickOnce - download and run the client offline with a local data store, sync back up via Web Services (typical smart client scenario)

I like the Outlook option the best right now because it's guaranteed to be on all user workstations in this situation.  I'd like my form to transform the various fields into a well known message format, which is then just forwarded to an inbox/queue that can be parsed and stored.

Anybody done something like this?  I'm trying to assess how easy this might be and would welcome any suggestions.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I did this, a long time ago. It worked pretty well, but ran into issues because of non-standardardized Outlook settings in an organization of 2000+ users. It was eventually replaced by a custom desktop app (this was way pre-.NET).

Two takeaways:
1) The only practical way of publishing form definitions and keeping them updated is an Exchange server form library. In theory and practice, you can do without, but it's very difficuly.
2) Don't produce the final format in the form itself. Either send it to a predefined mailbox or post to a public folder, and process the form fields there. Code in the form, if absolutely neccessary, should be limited to validations.
Raj Chaudhuri Send private email
Friday, October 26, 2007

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz