InfoPath - a background
The electronic forms that InfoPath provided for SharePoint were a fundamental part of the usefulness of SharePoint for many businesses. Combined with the workflow engine within SharePoint, it transformed many business processes away from paper based forms and into lean, mean fighting machines.
However it has been in use for over 16 years and is now clearly showing its age.
In 2019 we have modern pages in SharePoint and technology has moved on from 2013. Many companies who invested in InfoPath will need to replace their ageing forms before InfoPath is finally retired in 2023.
Those companies new to electronic forms can look at PowerApps and Flow for their forms and workflows and may consider alternatives too.
Over the years we have built a lot of advanced form solutions for companies large and small.
We have been working with InfoPath since it was released in 2003. It has undergone many new releases ending with InfoPath 2013.
For example we built a performance management solution using InfoPath and SharePoint for Careers Wales. This enabled performance related forms and data to be held in a secure vault which was tightly controlled. Review points were automatically scheduled into peoples diaries and alerts set-up to monitor progress.
We made the permissions set to the author and manager at a form level so that no-one else could see sensitive information. It was seamless and easy to use (but quite complex to code – we stretched the limits with InfoPath past breaking point). To circumnavigate the issues we had – we used the QDabra qRules software to add more than 50 extra commands to InfoPath.
We also built an advanced forms solution for National Grid which is being used globally. They said that previous consultants had tried and failed but we succeeded despite a real problem with several technical issues. We created a perfect solution.
“Peter is a highly skilled, determined and passionate SharePoint expert going above and beyond what was expected. During his time at National Grid, he developed a highly complex InfoPath form on SharePoint which is now being used across the UK and US. The deadlines of the project were strict but Peter ensured that quality was never sacrificed. He worked very closely with the end user to ensure an excellent product was created to meet the customer’s needs. It was a pleasure working with Peter and wish him all the best in the future.” Michael Greville, Digital Project Manager at National Grid.
During the past 16 years we have built a lot of advanced form solutions. Many were based on InfoPath but over the past years have been looking at alternatives.
We advise our clients on the use of InfoPath and other electronic forms solutions.
Rebuild from scratch?
To rebuild all of your InfoPath forms would be a big ask for many companies. However you can choose to rebuild just some of your business critical forms in Flow/PowerApps or even a new technology platform like Plumsail Forms. Plumsail lets you create responsive web forms for public sites, SharePoint Online, in SharePoint 2019 on-premise and Office 365 platform.
Yet another alternative is to lift and shift all of your form using the Qdabra Software FormsViewer which is free to use.
FormsViewer starts from your existing InfoPath forms. No changes needed. That means no migration nor retraining cost for your staff. Maintain the investment you have made by uploading your forms which will then run out of the box in modern browsers – no more InfoPath filler!. You can also choose to add functionality with over 60 powerful new commands.
The software is free to use! You would be advised to take out a paid for support service which is a reasonable annual cost – well under four figures in total.
PowerApps and Flow
Using PowerApps and Flow to gradually replace your existing InfoPath forms is a smart idea. You gain the benefits of new technology and the platform is going to be around for a long time. Meaning that it has a long life ahead of it.
PowerApps and Flow is constantly evolving as the technology adapts to new scenarios. This can be challenging as new releases are frequent and new ways of doing things come into play.
This means that your developers need to learn and adapt to the new technology.
Solvetech have been working with PowerApps and Forms for several years. The platform is now functionally powerful and coherent.