In a world where the internet seems all around us and we use it all the time, it is easy to forget that there are still many situations where users do not have an internet connection. For organizations that need to provide forms to be filled out offline, it has seemed like a dead end scenario. Luckily with the new functionality released in Ultimate Forms, a solution path just became available.
Web based forms should remain your go to when trying to provide the best possible user experience, but combining the ability to also use offline forms will help facilitate users as a fallback solution in those scenarios where a connection to the internet isn't always possible.
To start, let's describe what we're trying to accomplish:
We want to distribute forms to users that they can download to their device (computers, tablets or phones) which can be filled out when they are not connected to the internet.
The first part of this process is using Adobe Acrobat Standard Edition (or Pro if you already have it) to create your own custom PDF form. Note that you only need a license for the person developing the forms. If you are new to this process - there are loads of videos and instructions on the web to help you ramp up on that process quickly. It's pretty intuitive!
The key part to this process is the custom submit button which you will set to send an email to a special email address used later for import. This also sets the subject line on the email automatically.
Here is a sample URL:
mailto:forms@YOURORGANIZATION.com?subject=IMPORT CUSTOMER CONTACT
When the user clicks the button, the PDF is automatically attached to a new email which is created in the email client along with the designated subject line.
The user can repeatedly use this same form to make new submissions at any time. (Note that you should also add a "Clear" button as shown in the video.)
When the user reconnects to the internet, the email in their outbox is sent automatically to the email address.
Now we are ready to set up some magic in SharePoint. This is where Ultimate Forms comes in!
In Ultimate Forms, you will set up a new import profile using the new Import from an editable PDF attachment option.
You simply need to upload your form to the import profile and it will automatically detect the fields in the PDF.
In the import profile, you can easily map your PDF fields to the fields in your SharePoint list.
Make sure to set a condition to filter based on the subject line text. This ensures that the import is only attempted on the specific form that you have set up. (See the "mailto" link above!)
If you don't already have a special email for inbound traffic, it is quite easy to set up. You should set up a new user account with an email like this: "firstname.lastname@example.org".
This account only needs an Exchange license (email only) which is relatively inexpensive on a month-to-month basis.
Be sure to reference the article preceding this one which includes key technical information about the new funtionality:
» Update SharePoint List Data When You're Offline
Watch the video below to see all the key steps and watch the process in action:
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