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creating dynamic Excel forms, w/ validation -- possible?

P: n/a
hello,

i am on an interesting project. in this project, i have to create
dynamic data-entry forms for offline-users to fill out, save locally,
and eventually postback to our app (when back online). data validation
is required on the form.

i had looked at using PDF-forms for this.. Adobe's "LifeCyle Forms"
would work perfectly. with it one can pass in xml to their webservice &
get back PDF-form binaries. however, Adobe's pricing is simply
unrealistic for any but super-large budgets (got an extra 50k + 20%
annual maintainence for your project? talk to adobe).

so now im back to something low-tech. sure, i could do it w/ .HTML
forms w/ javascript validation, and use javascript to save the
data-entry into a .xml file. however, a two-file solution is not viable
for us.

my next idea is probably better from a user standpoint anyway -- Excel
forms. the user could input into the excel doc, save it, and later
return it to us.

two key questions:

1) can i build dynamic Excel forms w/ .NET?
2) if so, can i build them w/ any kind of data validation?
any help would be greatly appreciated!

thanks,
matt

Aug 25 '06 #1
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5 Replies


P: n/a
If you are looking at offline work I would seriously look at MSMQ
(System.Messaging in .Net 2) and a WinForms app,

Kevin Jones

ma**@mailinator.com wrote:
hello,

i am on an interesting project. in this project, i have to create
dynamic data-entry forms for offline-users to fill out, save locally,
and eventually postback to our app (when back online). data validation
is required on the form.

i had looked at using PDF-forms for this.. Adobe's "LifeCyle Forms"
would work perfectly. with it one can pass in xml to their webservice &
get back PDF-form binaries. however, Adobe's pricing is simply
unrealistic for any but super-large budgets (got an extra 50k + 20%
annual maintainence for your project? talk to adobe).

so now im back to something low-tech. sure, i could do it w/ .HTML
forms w/ javascript validation, and use javascript to save the
data-entry into a .xml file. however, a two-file solution is not viable
for us.

my next idea is probably better from a user standpoint anyway -- Excel
forms. the user could input into the excel doc, save it, and later
return it to us.

two key questions:

1) can i build dynamic Excel forms w/ .NET?
2) if so, can i build them w/ any kind of data validation?
any help would be greatly appreciated!

thanks,
matt
Aug 28 '06 #2

P: n/a
sounds interesting, but i wonder about the ability to custimize. in my
scenario, forms is good because i can render new form UI (additional
textboxes, status fields, etc) per the intended recepient, at
execution-time (when the form is created).

i may be speaking out of ignorance, but wouldnt a winform app would be
harder to customize? remember that the UI is different for each user.
to make this happen, i would have to deliver each user an .xml file
that they would have to "import" into the winforms client, in order to
get the customized look.. i think it would be harder for my
non-technical users to do this, than to just to work on an excel form.

also, the user could not forward the winforms app to another user for
review/editing, like he could w/ a portable, common form (pdf-form or
excel form).

so, the question remains -- can one use .NET to dymically build excel
forms w/ validation?
matt
Kevin Jones wrote:
If you are looking at offline work I would seriously look at MSMQ
(System.Messaging in .Net 2) and a WinForms app,
Aug 28 '06 #3

P: n/a
How are you customizing the XML form?

Kevin Jones

ma**@mailinator.com wrote:
sounds interesting, but i wonder about the ability to custimize. in my
scenario, forms is good because i can render new form UI (additional
textboxes, status fields, etc) per the intended recepient, at
execution-time (when the form is created).

i may be speaking out of ignorance, but wouldnt a winform app would be
harder to customize? remember that the UI is different for each user.
to make this happen, i would have to deliver each user an .xml file
that they would have to "import" into the winforms client, in order to
get the customized look.. i think it would be harder for my
non-technical users to do this, than to just to work on an excel form.

also, the user could not forward the winforms app to another user for
review/editing, like he could w/ a portable, common form (pdf-form or
excel form).

so, the question remains -- can one use .NET to dymically build excel
forms w/ validation?
matt
Kevin Jones wrote:
>If you are looking at offline work I would seriously look at MSMQ
(System.Messaging in .Net 2) and a WinForms app,
Aug 28 '06 #4

P: n/a
Sorry, meant to say.

How are you customizing the Excel form,

Kevin Jones wrote:
How are you customizing the XML form?

Kevin Jones

ma**@mailinator.com wrote:
>sounds interesting, but i wonder about the ability to custimize. in my
scenario, forms is good because i can render new form UI (additional
textboxes, status fields, etc) per the intended recepient, at
execution-time (when the form is created).

i may be speaking out of ignorance, but wouldnt a winform app would be
harder to customize? remember that the UI is different for each user.
to make this happen, i would have to deliver each user an .xml file
that they would have to "import" into the winforms client, in order to
get the customized look.. i think it would be harder for my
non-technical users to do this, than to just to work on an excel form.

also, the user could not forward the winforms app to another user for
review/editing, like he could w/ a portable, common form (pdf-form or
excel form).

so, the question remains -- can one use .NET to dymically build excel
forms w/ validation?
matt
Kevin Jones wrote:
>>If you are looking at offline work I would seriously look at MSMQ
(System.Messaging in .Net 2) and a WinForms app,
Aug 28 '06 #5

P: n/a
im not, yet. just spec'ing this out.

but the customization will (at this time) come in the form of "Part"
line-items for the user to report on -- each user is assigned different
lists of parts to inspect & report on. it *sounds* like this could work
in a tabular format -- PartID, % Complete, various date fields,
Comments, etc.

so i could generate & pass user-specific xml (his assigned parts) to a
winforms app and fill a datagrid w/ it, and let the user fill-in the
rest.

that may work. but the disadvantage is:

1) installation of an application thru our corporate gatekeepers
2) inability for user to simply email the filled-in inspection report
to another user (say his manager) for further tweaking. that manager
may then send it back to us, the application.

so thats why we've been looking at PDF-forms (ideal, but too expensive)
and now Excel forms.
matt
Kevin Jones wrote:
Sorry, meant to say.

How are you customizing the Excel form,
Aug 28 '06 #6

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