Friday, November 27, 2009

Anonymous access to forms - the iTFA way

There are times when your anonymous user might need to submit data to you in SharePoint. You already know the best way to create forms is ... ta-daaa ... iTechnology Forms Accelerator (I know, I know ... shame on me for the free self-compliments ...).

After the shameless self-advertising campaign you saw let's get our hands dirty; the step-by-step way:

1. IIS

Yes, you probably know this but in order to access anonymously *any* ASP.NET website, IIS needs to be configured. Here you can find how to do it with Windows Server 2003 and IIS 6. The key element to remember here is the IUSER_ComputerName account which is assigned to every anonymous visitor to your website which later on we will see how to use it in iTFA.

2. SharePoint Central Administration

Going down the drain - MOSS. Let's go to Central Administration, then Application Management and open up Authentication Providers. Here is the time to mention iTFA works best with Windows Authentication so lets enable anonymous access to the Windows membership provider.

3. SharePoint site

IIS set, provider set. Next level? Right - site. In the site where you host your iTFA-enabled forms in Site Actions menu open up Site settings and follow the Advanced permissions link. In the page's toolbar you will see Settings item and Anonymous Access subitem - click on it. Here you can enable anonymous access to the whole site or only to libraries and lists - your choice here!

4. iTFA Management site

So far, so good. 3 done, 2 to go. In order for iTFA to be sure that you are 100% percent aware which users have the required access level we have added user access functionality. You can see how to play with it by watching our short video here. Fast forward now and go to "itfa" management site in SharePoint and User Access configuration section there. Let's focus on anonymity now. Remember user IUSER_ComputerName from step 1? Here is why I have told you to keep it in mind! You need to add it to any of the 4 groups that you see in order your anonymous users to access iTFA forms. I wouldn't recommend adding this user to any other group than iTFA Users because you will be giving your anonymous guests way too much power and honestly speaking - they don't deserve it. ;-)

5. My iTFA-enabled list (document library)

Tired? Bored? Bear with me please, you are just few clicks away from having your perfectly anonymous guests access your forms!

I know the first thing you did was to watch our Hello World video (if you have missed it, you can watch it here) where you have iTFA enabled a custom list (btw the same way you do it for document library). Now let's get those anonymous users see your shiny-easy-to-use-5-minute-built new form.

Open up your list, go to Settings -> List Settings -> Permissions for this list. In the Settings menu item click on Anonymous Access. Now you get to choose what permissions your anonymous users will have - Add / Edit / Delete / View. View is selected by default but enabling any of the other options will change the list's View page with the required functionality. Let's check them all and rock on.

Here I need to mention that if you are in document library and all the other options are grayed out, there is a nice workaround to enable them. Take a look at the URL of this page you will notice that after the .aspx page there is a query "obj=%listidhere….." followed by "DOCLIB". If you change this last part of the URL from "DOCLIB" to "LIST", you will notice that you now have all of the option that you've been missing. Note that by changing the URL query in your browser you are not damaging your library in any way. You are just telling SharePoint to present you with the anonymous access settings available for a list. You can change the setting back to the default by deselecting the "Add, Edit & Delete" options.

6. Finish line

Finished! Yes, I know it took less than 5 minutes, just like with everything else you do with iTechnology Forms Accelerator... Peace of cake, huh?!
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