Top-notch Intelligence Behind the SharePoint Form, Empowered by KWizCom

Written by Ron Charity. Posted in Business Solutions

SharePoint 2013 offers a quick and simple forms solution that provides basic data capture but isn’t dynamic (smart). What I mean by that is security trimming based on role/security and presenting fields based on context. Specifically, to add such functionality requires InfoPath and custom code. The SharePoint Team Blog has a great article that covers forms and the options available from Microsoft. For organizations that choose not to follow one of the options (and there are good reasons not to such as requiring developers and lead-time), companies such as KWizCom offer an off the shelf product you can install, learn and hit the ground running quickly.

Note: This review is written for SharePoint users and or administrators looking for a solution to create rich dynamic forms without using Microsoft InfoPath or custom coding with Microsoft Visual Studio. The review will provide an overview of the company, the product, installation, configuration and best practices of form design. The review will also provide you with a prescriptive approach for designing and implementing forms. Finally, additional reading recommendations are provided where possible to help you through the evaluation process.

How KWizCom Improves Forms

The KWizCom List Forms Extensions Feature builds on the functionality provided by SharePoint 2013 forms by adding the security trimming and dynamic presentation of fields based on content. Specifically, KWizCom adds intelligence to the form so that you can apply business rules through an administrative page (added when you install their feature). Through configuration, the administrator and or business user is able to apply business rules. For example, you could lock and or display fields based on role or stage of data entry within the form workflow.

The following screenshot depicts the Field Level Permissions Task Page KWizCom adds to the Form:

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The specifics of what KWizCom offers with its “Forms Bundle” is as follows:

  • Field-level permissions
  • View-level permissions
  • Dynamic validation rules
  • Dynamic default values
  • Field-grouping (Tabs)
  • Dynamic Custom Menus
  • Cascaded fields
  • Repeating rows field

The KWizCom List Forms Extensions Feature can be downloaded from this URL.

About KWizCom

KWizCom is a leading developer of innovative software components designed to expand Microsoft SharePoint and Project Server out-of-the-box capabilities, streamline workflow, maximize efficiency and enhance over-all productivity. Their products are designed to give customers maximum benefit at minimum cost, including, partnering with customers under the Shared Cost Development Model to create custom tailored solutions at the half the expense. The KWizCom team consists of dynamic and creative consumer oriented experts dedicated to developing effective and efficient solutions, providing exceptional service and building long lasting customer relationships and partnerships. KWizCom is a global company with headquarters in Toronto, Canada. They are a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner. For more information about KWizCom visit them at www.kwizcom.com.

Technical Requirements:

The following are the published requirements for KWizCom:

SharePoint 2007, 2010 or 2013

  • For 2010 or 2013 the Foundation Package is required
  • .NET framework 2

Client

  • Microsoft Windows Windows 7/8
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 9+ / Mozilla Firefox (Latest version) / Google Chrome (Latest version)

Installation Instructions:

The following is a summary of the installation steps

  1. Log in as SharePoint administrator account to your SharePoint front-end server.
  2. Download the Web Installer from here http://catalog.kwizcom.com/sites/pc/_layouts/KWizComInstaller/KWizCom%20Installer.application?product=SharePoint List Forms Extensions
    Note I did not use the PowerShell script installer for this review, I found the Web installer very easy to use.
  3. Scroll through the Welcome text and click “I Agree”.
  4. From the products window page down until you find the “KWizCom List Extensions” and select.
  5. Follow the prompts to install and you are done.
  6. To view the installed features go to “Central Admin”, “Manage Farm Features” and page down.

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Note to retract and delete the solution using SharePoint central admin or by using STSADM / PowerShell command line.

Getting Started with the Form

In this section, I will step you through some basic tasks for applying rules to a form.

First Step - Create a Form

I created a basic form so that I could experiment with the rules. The form contained a basic Help Desk request form with

  • Contact Name – People PickerContact Email – Text box
  • Contact phone - Text box
  • Status – drop down list with Open or Closed
  • Issue Severity – drop down list for Normal, Urgent and Critical
  • % Complete – Numeric percentage
  • Tech Name – People Picker
  • Resolution – Multiline text box

Once created the form was saved as - Help Desk.

Add Rules

To configure a required list’s forms, go to list settings page and click the “SharePoint List Extensions” link as shown below.

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In SharePoint 2010, you can also get to the List Forms Extensions settings page by clicking the “List” tab and then click the “List Extensions Settings” button located at the “Settings” ribbon group.

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Evaluation Summary

With the product walkthrough completed, the following table summarizes the KWizCom List Forms Extensions Feature evaluation.

Area Description Rating (1-5) Notes
 
Installation The installation requires the creation of an application and site collection prior to clicking “setup”.
 
5/5 Once you click Web setup their install program does the rest for you with a few simple prompts.
Configuration KWizCom is very configurable which means an organization can easily tailor the form to their needs.
 
3/5 The manuals are ok but lack detailed step by step for each scenario and explanations.
Solution Depth Deployment Options KWizCom follows SharePoint planning, design and operational framework.
 
5/5 KWizCom has conducted performance testing which helps you determine the impact of their solution on your farm.
User Interface User interface follows the SharePoint design patterns.
 
5/5 You can leverage existing investments in SharePoint and Office.
Ease of Use Very intuitive for SharePoint users and in general.
 
5/5 KWizCom follows SharePoint design patterns and is very easy to use.
SharePoint Integration The product is completely SharePoint based making excellent use of sites, lists, libraries and connectivity between them.
 
5/5 KWizCom is fully integrated with SharePoint as a solution package.
Support and Help All support calls and requests for information were answered promptly and fully. The Administrator and User manuals are well written. 5/5 Support wasn’t required much - the product is very intuitive. Just make sure you have Farm Admin access when installing. When I did place calls, the response was quick.
 

Form Planning and Design Best Practices

For designing forms there are a few practices you should follow to help maximize success. Like any business solution, managing expectations and technology constraints are key to success.

  • Work with the business to understand the process the form supports.
  • Utilize fields that best accommodate the function (e.g. use a People Picker instead of text box for people names).
  • Document the life cycle of the form so that you know how data entry will change the behavior of the form - Document the rules for the fields.
  • Create mockups of the forms to provide a visual regarding how the form will look and behave based on the rules.
  • Expect to take an iterative approach as the business and you become more familiar with requirements and the technology capabilities and constraints.
  • Document the configuration of your forms for reference, rebuild and reuse purposes.
  • Publish user manuals and instructional videos to help educate Admins and reduce help desk calls.
  • Conduct performance tests of your Farms so that you understand capacity impacts.

Recommendation

The KWizCom List Forms Extensions Feature is simple to install and configure and in most cases should prevent you from having to create solutions using SharePoint Designer and or Visual Studio. The product installs in minutes and the administration and user manuals are easy to follow. To maximize success follow the best practices to help document requirements and understand technology constraints.

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Learn more about KWizCom List Forms Extensions Feature.

 

Ron Charity
Author: Ron CharityWebsite: http://ronjcharity.wordpress.com/
Ron has worked with SharePoint since its Tahoe beginnings and has done a variety of work for clients in different industries and countries. Currently Ron works for a large US bank designing and deploying scalable and versatile SharePoint solutions.