Forms for Sharepoint: magic of stages

Forms for Sharepoint: magic of stages

This webinar will show how to work with the Stages in PDF Share Forms. We use real-life scenarios from our existing customers and show how to solve challenges with forms for SharePoint in minutes without any programming skills.

We have seen "for official use only" section of many paper forms, haven't we? This section is the first sign of the backend processes that will happen when user submits her/his form. And hence we have at least two business stages: "initial submission" and "some back office processing".

Webinar will cover the following topics:

Review several samples of PDF forms with stages

  • Differences between stages and workflow
  • Demonstration of PDF implementation with Stages
  • Advanced topic (if we have time) mixing workflow and stages


Webinar transcript


Okay. I think we can start. Once again, hello everyone! And today, we will talk about the PDF forms, stages and a bit about the workflows. And just a bit housekeeping rule. You can ask questions during the presentation and my associates will take care. They are there, either will answer or just to confirm that we got your question. And we’ll have a Q & A session. And after that, if we have more time, I will try to show you more and we go from there.

Okay. So before we begin, let’s be clear that today is an educational webinar. That’s why we put this little mark here. That means this webinar assumes that you are a bit familiar with PDF Share Forms. If you are new to PDF Share Forms, that’s okay. You can just jump in with the trial version and see all the benefits for yourself. We will be showing the design, we will be showing the SharePoint, so you need to be a bit familiar.

Our agenda. We will talk about the stages and terminology and that can be confusing. And the more you work with the SharePoint and Office365, the more confusing it will be. So we will try to untangle this confusion. Then, we will talk what the basic functionality you can do with the stages in PDF Share Forms. And we will have a demonstration part right there. Then, we’ll review a bit more complex scenario where actually we will take a form and start adding stages and logic to it and there will be a little kind of surprise there for you. We’ll try to focus more on demonstrations today than just the slides to denote many slides we have, just more on forms. And then, we’ll have some time dedicated for questions and answers.

Okay. Let’s start. Okay. So let’s start with stages. It is easy to see the form and say, that says for official use only or to be completed by and then there is a sub title, job title. Those are for signs that this form is not just for data capture. It has business thoughts behind it. And most likely, it is separated by logical stages. The first initial person submits the form, then logically the form goes to the next stage and then somebody within the organization has to perform some actions. And then next stage can all be just approval, just one approval stage. Actually approvals are good sign that forms are good candidate for stages.

Let’s take a look on this form. It’s an example of Form 707. This is from United States Air Force Officer Performance Review. You can see that it has five stages. Some stages are optional. They can be skipped based in a form of rules or maybe just field values. And another hint you can see on this form actually that it has signature fields. And we have five signature fields. So most likely the form has five different stages. When you can see there a form that has business process associated with it, you will consider at start initially, filling the form then go to the next stage, then next stage. Most of the time just next, next, next. However, there are some cases when form can go back and forth between the stages. A good example of this bought back and forth is at a time when request for information forms. It can go back and forth within project coordinator, subject matter experts. So stages does not mean they need to go sequential. You auto logic. But in most common case, you just go to the next stage.

Now, this is a part that gets tricky. And when we start using those terms as a form, as a workflow, in context of Microsoft Products. This little boy that is crying I put there because it truly represents my inner feelings when I have to speak about the stages and work with SharePoint. So when we say workflow, do we mean SharePoint workflow or business process workflow? Human workflow? Or if we say business process isn’t the same thing as a workflow? And Microsoft does not make it easier.

The SharePoint has a workflow but it also has a new product called Flow, especially for Office365. SharePoint workflow also has concept of stages. But those are not the same as business process stages. Microsoft Dynamics also Office365 Product or you can have a previous version of one has both workflow and business stages. And business process flow has its stages but it goes on and off. It is truly confusing. So we need to untangle this and this is what we will do right now.

We’ll determine our terminology for today, for this webinar and how we work with the PDF forms. So when we say workflow, we will refer to the SharePoint workflow problem. When we say business process, we will mean human business process that we can apply to the form. And stage will just be a logical step in the business process. With that, we will review how the stages and these business process I implemented in the PDF Share Forms product. We’ll also talk how to use the workflow actions here, work SharePoint workflow actions with the PDF Share Forms stages. Workflow will mean SharePoint workflow. Business process will focus more on business less on technology.

So when we decide to work with stages, with PDF Share Forms, first we need to enable this functionality, enable this feature only given for it. This functionality is caught on a form level. There will be some forms that you would want to implement stages and there may be some that we will go without the stages. And once this feature is enabled, then you can define stages. What is stage 1, what is stage 2, you can give names. Then it will define how the different fields form controls should be here in different stages. Example, we can display or require field per stage, in different stages.


Then I will be selecting my elements and say… the same way you can not only make fields enabled to disabled but you also can make it required based on stage or you can just hide it at all. So even if there is, let’s say some value, it’s not going to be just, but it only value but it will disappear at all. You also can make it first stage. Okay, with this, let me go back to the presentation because we have few more things to cover.

Okay. Mixing the SharePoint Workflow. So, now, stages in SharePoint Workflow, they are not replacing each other, but they actually add functionality to each other. They can work really great together.

The most common scenario would be if you’re building the workflow, you can say, if form is in stage one, then send e-mail to somebody or you can actually update stage from the workflow. In SharePoint 2015, it’s SharePoint 2015-2016, there are two special actions: get stage and set stage. So, let me go if I go quickly to live…

So this is my SharePoint designer. I have some workflow here. If I open the workflow, if I click edit. Basically, this is a step. And if I would like to, let’s say get some… you can see this, get form stage or set form stage. Those two actions allow you to get information in which stage it’s currently in or update, so you can work it together. It’s not necessary. In the same time, especially in SharePoint online, it has a very limited adaption.

SharePoint Workflow in Office 365 is not as popular because it’s complex and you have very limited control what you can do there. You still can use it, but in many cases you just can use just rules in a designer and basically configure what to show, how to show the stage regarding the workflow itself. Also, Microsoft added Microsoft Flow – basically a new workflow engine and process. And we plan to add support for it, kind of make it look. But even right now, you can easily work on a SharePoint column level. Basically, you can have let’s say, if I would go back to my SharePoint and those are my columns associated with this particular form and I can have another column. Let’s see if I can figure out something here. Oh let me just leave here.

I’ll use a title. I can select some column and basically assign that it should be moved to the current stage. And basically, use it within the workflow. It will update the SharePoint column right away and we will be able to use it right away.

So it is possible to use again with support modes, other than Workflow 2010, 2013; also need to explore workflow so that it is all available for you. In online, it’s also available.

Now, for the next demonstration, I want to use a form that was sent to us by actually one of the registrants for this webinar. We will try to make our webinar’s process a bit more interactive. So when I announced webinar, we asked if you would like to share some form with us and if you want to do the demonstration of this form.