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Friday, May 6, 2011

Populating an InfoPath Drop-Down List Box with Choices from a SharePoint List

What if the names people type in the Name text boxes provided by that sample InfoPath expense report form don't match names of actual users in SharePoint? My workflow needed real names to work, so now what? Well, InfoPath has an answer for that, and it's called Look up values from an external data source, which is an option in the Data tab of the field's Properties. This lets you populate a drop-down list box with values from a SharePoint list, such as the User Information List (which is what I used). Here's how:

  1. First, right-click the Text Box field that holds the name, and choose Change To > Drop-Down List Box.
  2. Right-click on the form field and choose Drop-Down List Properties.
  3. In the Data tab, click Look up values from an external data source, and then click Add.
  4. In the Data Connection Wizard, click Create a new connection to: Receive data, and then click Next.
  5. Select the option to receive data from a SharePoint library or list, and then click Next.
  6. Type the URL of your SharePoint site, and then click Next.
  7. Select the Your Sharepoint List(Custom List), and then click Next.
  8. Select the fields you want to have access to - I just needed Name - and then click Next.
  9. Choose whether you want to Store a copy of the data in the form template (I didn't), and then click Next.
  10. Enter a name for the connection (I left the default), and then click Finish.
Back in the Drop-Down List Properties, the Custom List(From Sharepoint List) was now listed in my Data Source box. Not quite finished.

  1. Click the Select XPath icon next to the Entries field.
  2. Expand the folders until you see the :Name field, select it, and then click OK.
All that just to populate two boxes in the Properties window...whew! Here's what it looked like when I finished.

The Microsoft Office Online site has an excellent video that walks you through this: Demo : Populate a drop-down list box from a SharePoint list.

After doing all that, I clicked OK to save the changes, and then clicked the Preview button in the toolbar to see if it worked.

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