Publisher web publication forms 101

A Publisher web publication form is comprised of form controls (fields, checkboxes) and a submit control.


A form requires server side processing. Your web host is the server. The web site visitors PC is the client. When a submit control on a form is clicked that tells the client browser to send the form control data to the server, the server then processes the data it received and responds back to the client. Publisher uses FrontPage technology (webbots) on the server to perform this (that’s why you can’t “preview” a form). A functional form requires – A) FrontPage Server Extensions (FPSE) installed on the web server (order from your web host) and B) your site must be published in the HTTP protocol, and C) the form properties must be properly configured on the Submit button control.


To use a Publisher form you must do two things:


use a FPSE enabled web host account
publish the Publisher web using HTTP


You can confirm that FPSE was successfully installed and are functional by browsing to the page “_vti_inf.html” at the root of your domain. For example – http://www.mydomainname.com/_vti_inf.html . If the FrontPage configuration page loads then that is your confirmation page. A “page cannot be found” or other such server error would indicate that FPSE needs to be installed or reinstalled by the host.


The extensions require HTTP file uploads to be functional, therefore if you need support for forms your site must be published via HTTP. Do not use FTP for publishing if you have FrontPage Server Extensions installed on your domain. See the HTTP publishing article.


After the form is submitted the page is redirected to a confirmation page. You cannot change that function nor change the confirmation page. That is not available in Publisher. FPSE processes the form submission and then dynamically generates a confirmation page listing the form controls it received. You can opt to not use FPSE for your form processing in which case your program may provide for a level of customization not available with Publisher and FPSE. If your host provides and supports a form program and you have the technical know how to program it (or your host assists you). In the form properties dialog for your form simply select the option to use “an ISP Program” and then input the server path and name of the form program.


The form controls have no validation functionality (you cannot require a field).


By default Publisher sets the tab order of the form controls (fields) in the order in which the controls are added to the page. The Arrange (front/back) feature can be used to set an explicit tab order in a form. This is done by selecting each control in the order you want the tab order to follow, and setting it to “bring to front”. In v2003 you can right click the control and select Order, Bring to front. In v2002 you can use Alt + F6. Or just use the Arrange menu.

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