External forms are one of the most compelling features of Ultimate Forms (and there are so many!). They allow you to expose forms of an internal SharePoint list to anonymous external users in a simple, but secure fashion. You can now send forms to your partners, customers or suppliers and the information gets entered directly into your SharePoint list, where you can print it, create reports, assign tasks or attach alerts. Basically using the full range of SharePoint's and Ultimate Forms' capabilities.
The external forms can hosted by us (easy!) or embedded on a page within your external website (just a tad more complicated). When people open the form link and enter the information, it gets saved directly to the SharePoint list. But how do we make sure it's secure and we do not expose your precious data to the world? Well, the form never actually interacts with SharePoint directly. It interacts with our special proxy web interface, which examines every requests and determines that it is legitimate. Only forms you marked as external can be accessed and even there you control which capabilities are allowed (for instance, you might want to only allow New forms, but not Display or Edit).
Today I want to discuss an exciting new capability we just added. You can now edit existing items in a safe and secure way. For each item we will generate a unique ID, which is impossible to guess and the form can only be opened using that ID. As the URL contains both form and item IDs and both of them are GUIDs (global unique identifier), the number of possible combination approaches the number of atoms in the whole observable Universe, which you would agree is rather high!
Let me quickly demonstrate how we can implement a form that is filled out and then can be corrected at a later time, using a special link. It's called Address Info and it's a very simple address collection and correction form, intended to be filled out by people outside of your organization (clients, members, partners, etc.)
- I created a simple list with the following columns:
- Next, I opened our Form Designer and created a form for the list:
- I wasn't lazy and even created a special Thank You page to be shown when the form is submitted:
Of course, you can invest a bit more in the design of it :)
- Next, I enabled External form functionality:
- Note that I enabled all form types. Click on the copy button next to New and Edit links and paste them in Notepad, we will use them soon. As you see, I used the Hosted form option and the URL leads to a page on the Infowise website, but you also embed it on your own page, using the provided script.
- Publish the form.
- Enter Alerts component and click to create a new alert.
- First, we need to make some changes to the recipients. Delete yourself and add Email column instead:
That will ensure the alert is sent to the email that was entered into the form.
- Next, under What to send, ensure the alert is sent on Item is added only:
- And last, configure the subject and body of the email of the alert:
Make sure to use the link button on the toolbar and pasting the Edit form URL as the link URL. The link contains a token that will be replaced by the actual item's unique ID when sending.
- Save the alert and you're done.
So easy, right? Let's try it out!
- First open the New form link. The form is empty, fill it out and submit. Use your real email so you can get the notification.
- In a minute or two an email will arrive:
- Click on the link within the email, you can now see the information you submitted earlier and can make changes:
Note the two GUIDs in the URL. Their combination uniquely identifies the item and it is impossible to simply guess it, the number of options is truly astronomical!
As you can see, it is so easy to create a secure external form and start collecting your data directly inside your SharePoint list.
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