Q

Need help implementing forms application in ASP.NET

Our corporate application is running in Access 97. We are using SQL Server 2000 as the backend, and we have more than nine locations in USA where our application is installed. We get data through the replication process. We want to write an application which will run from a browser. Our problem is we have Access Forms in which we write data in bound text boxes and print them on prepared forms so the data writes to the blank areas. Also, due to data size restrictions, we have spin buttons so that we can shrink or expand the text font size on forms and save that size in database (every thing is bound). Then, it automatically save data and its font size in db for later use. After replication, we can print the out from our head office and serve the clients. Now my question is how do we implement this thingy in ASP.NET? Is there a better method than we are using? Is there any third party like Adobe Forms that will do this? Access gives us lots of functionality on the client side like tabstrip, clients' personal settings, find field data, etc. We want to do not install this software or every machine we want user can use log in and go to prepare documents and get printouts from any place in the world. We don't have a team -- I'm learning ASP.NET and have worked on ASP the past two years and am serving our clients for reporting purpose only, but they need Forms (filled with data) from the Web.
InfoPath Forms might serve you very well here. I wrote a short article on InfoPath forms here:
http://www.dotnetdashboard.com/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabindex=0&tabid=90

I will further comment on the scenario you have provided in a bold attempt to provide you guidance when I really don't have enough details on the reasoning behind your application requirements. You might consider replacing Access with MSDE since it appears that you have an enterprise solution, and Access may not scale to your needs at some point. MSDE gives you a reduced footprint of the SQL Server engine, at an affordable price. I'm not clear on where you will host the ASP.NET application, but assuming that you want to include this as part of the application deployment, I'm going to also assume that you can host an Intranet application in front of the Access database, and also (if appropriate) at the SQL Server location(s). If your goal is to populate forms with data, and have them print with a specific layout, you can definitely create Web services that generate data to display in these forms that can then be edited, resubmitted to the database through Web services, and/or printed from their local machine using InfoPath. The ASP.NET Intranet can supply a link for users to download forms.

Regarding the dynamic changes to font size and layout, I would recommend you reevaluate the purpose behind this requirement. Can the forms be redesigned so that all customers are happy with the same font and layout? If not, you would have to provide a different InfoPath form for each custom view. It is not possible to dynamically generate InfoPath forms (today) using the InfoPath SDK, however, you can modify existing InfoPath files such as the .xsf, .xsd, .xsl and .xml once the preliminary form has been created. The InfoPath SDK can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/ipsdk/html/ipsdkWelcomeToTheIPSDK.asp

For a comparison of InfoPath to other Microsoft solutions, see this article: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/odc_ip2003_ta/html/odc_ipinfopathdecisiontree.asp

For information on how to connect InfoPath forms to Microsoft Access Database see this and related links on MSDN: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/ipsdk/html/ipsdkWelcomeToTheIPSDK.asp
This was first published in April 2004

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