Microsoft takes wraps off XML data-gathering app

Microsoft Corp. today unveiled its Extensible Markup Language collector application, InfoPath, which until now was called XDocs.

InfoPath is 'a hybrid between a form-filler and a word processor,' product manager Jacob Jaffe said. 'It has a Microsoft Office toolbar look and feel.'

InfoPath's 25 customizable collector templates automatically tag data fields for an XML-compatible back-end database, which can repurpose data in any desired format.

Although the federal government so far has no overall XML schema, Jaffe said some government health care organizations are following the Clinical Document Architecture, an international standard for patient progress records.

InfoPath specifically works with Microsoft SQL Server or BizTalk Server, Jaffe said. It should work with any database management system that allows browser access via ActiveX Data Objects, he said.

Microsoft has yet to set a price for a standalone version of InfoPath, Jaffe said, nor has it decided whether to bundle it with Office. But InfoPath will have the same system requirements as Office 11. The initial beta release will not have handheld versions for Pocket PC or Windows CE systems, although Jaffe said he expects a beta tablet PC version.

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