One of the nice features of InfoPath is the ability to convert existing Word or Excel forms into InfoPath forms, potentially saving you a lot of time.  When you load up InfoPath Designer 2010, you are first presented with the options of all the form templates you can design. One is labelled Convert Existing Form. Simply select this option and click the Design button and a wizard will open up asking you which form you wish to convert.

Below are two screenshots. One shows a Word form. The other shows that form converted into InfoPath, without any changes made.

InfoPath has been quite clever and even worked out the names of some of my fields. For example, the field next to the label Date has been named date. But InfoPath hasn’t done anything about the formatting or data type of this field. Straight after conversion, this field is given as a text box. It’s a simple matter to right-click on this field and choose the Change To menu item and select a date picker field. This converts the field to a date picker and the data type to a date. Brilliant!

InfoPath has also been clever enough to work out the differences between the small text boxes for adding name and course title, and the larger text boxes for comments. These feedback boxes are given as rich text boxes with the ability to wrap text.

In a similar way, InfoPath can convert tables into repeating tables where appropriate.

There are some things it doesn’t do though.

The form converter won’t carry logic across. Let’s say that you have an expenses claim form in Excel, which includes a formula for calculating the multiplication of an item cost and amount. This is a function that InfoPath is also able to handle, but the form converter doesn’t bring the formula into InfoPath. You get the fields and the layout, but you have to recreate the functions yourself.

Still, if you’ve got a lot of existing forms that you want to turn into InfoPath forms, you can save yourself a lot of time by using the conversion capabilities.