Sunday, August 19, 2007

Document Libraries, Forms, Explorer View, and Combine.aspx, or Hmmm, why's that there?

So I am messing around with libraries while I edit the library chapter, and I came across something that puzzled me earlier (when I was writing the chapter) but I didn't have time to mess with it.

I don't have time to mess with it now, but I can't take the chance of ignoring it either.

Have you ever noticed, when you are in a document library, that you can use Explorer view?

Have you noticed, in Explorer View (or if you use Open with Windows Explorer, you get an explorer window), that there is a hidden folder called Forms?

Have you noticed, in the Forms folder that there is a file called Combine.aspx?

Have you ever wondered what it does or why it's there?

Well, for starts, it is a view page that displays the libraries contents with check boxes so you can select several of the library items in one shot, and a Merge Selected Documents button. However, it will never work for a standard library holding standard documents or other files.

It only works with InfoPath 2007 (see for more about it).

So why is it available in a document library? I don't know, but maybe it was an oversight and MS should have removed it before RTM. Maybe it's an unfinished feature left in and forgotten in the rush to release.

Nonetheless, Combine.aspx, which opens a Merge Documents view in a library, is supposed to allow you to merge InfoPath forms, if you are using an InfoPath template for the library (and if you are using a Forms Library you are), and if InfoPath is installed locally on the machine you are using to access the site and perform this function.

What I know for sure is, no matter what you do in a document library, you will always get an error dialog box that is completely useless. It tells you, again and again, to make sure you have the correct template associated with the library and if you don't, and you are allowed to administer the library, please change the template to the correct one---- with no mention as to what the correct one would be (my guess is InfoPath).

I think, despite the fact that Combine.aspx exists in the Forms folder, that's why Merge Documents is not a standard view in the view drop down menu for any library--- not even the Forms library.

Now you know.

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