Carrie Rudolph, Systems Consultant
In January 2014, Microsoft announced the retirement of InfoPath forms and the 2013 version will be the last release. Although Microsoft will continue to support InfoPath until 2023 and they still recommend continuing to build forms with this tool, Keller Schroeder does not recommend building any forms with longevity or complexity in InfoPath. Microsoft has not laid out any migration plans, but they have promised more information on this topic in Q4 2014. The message we have received up to this point is that it is not likely there will be a smooth, automated migration path off of InfoPath, but it is probable that forms will need to be rebuilt in the new tool or technology of your choice. If your form is part of a long-term solution in your organization, there would be very little value in building it in InfoPath now and using a new tool later. Connecting to line of business systems or adding custom code in InfoPath forms requires a significant amount of knowledge and time. The investment to gain this proprietary knowledge will likely not be transferable to the other forms tools.
Microsoft’s announcement stated “Industry trends and feedback from our customers and partners make it clear that today’s businesses demand an intelligent, integrated forms experience that spans devices.” InfoPath does not fit this need, which is one of the reasons for its retirement. The following are features we feel are important considerations when evaluating modern form solutions:
- Easily integrates with line of business systems in order to bring together data and empower users
- Is accessible across multiple device types without cumbersome customization
- Has the ability to support on-premises and cloud-based solutions
- Produces browser-based forms with HTML 5 and modern browser support
- Is available to Information Workers in order to empower them to build forms and collect data in a timely and efficient manner
So what are the options for replacing InfoPath? Microsoft is working on a few new tool sets, but admitted at the 2014 SharePoint User Conference they do not have a clear road map of what the solutions will be. One of the new technologies being developed is called FoSL (Forms on top of SharePoint List). The target release date for FoSL is mid to late 2014 and a full list of features to be included has not been defined. FoSL is intended to be a no code forms solution that you configure within the SharePoint browser experience. However, based on communications from Microsoft on this topic, we do not get the feeling they are working toward a robust form solution, as Microsoft is also recommending third party tools to meet users’ form needs.
The front runners in the third party SharePoint forms arena have had form solutions that surpass InfoPath for some time now.
K2 Forms is a no code forms solution that supports easy to configure integration with line of business systems as well as modern browser support, making these forms accessible across multiple devices. It also integrates with K2’s workflow engine to complete the full K2 business application platform. K2 does integrate seamlessly with SharePoint but can also be utilized independently from SharePoint making it an enterprise-level solution.
Nintex Forms for SharePoint is a web-based designer that allows you to configure SharePoint forms from the browser. It integrates seamlessly with Nintex workflow for building robust automated business process solutions within SharePoint. Nintex is limited to SharePoint and cannot be used independently. Nintex does support both cloud and on-premises solutions as well as multiple device accessibility.
Formotus Forms is a cloud-based service for creating and managing your own custom mobile form-based business applications. This solution allows for offline interaction and submission of forms. It has SharePoint connectivity as well as integration with other line of business systems via web services. This is a subscription-based service that can be integrated with on-premises, cloud, or hybrid installations.
For more information on any of these options, please contact us.
Keller Schroeder is a K2 partner. For more details regarding K2 Forms, please attend Keller Schroeder’s upcoming webinar on Wednesday, June 11 at 10 AM CST, titled No InfoPath, No Problem with K2 and Keller Schroeder. Don’t wait! Register today!