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03 February 2014

Microsoft Answers About InfoPath Future

InfoPath 2013 iconIn a couple of earlier blog posts I have told you about InfoPath articles in the kalmstrom.com Tips section. I find InfoPath a very useful tool for handling electronic forms, but the future of InfoPath has been questioned. Now we know more, as the Microsoft Office team informed us about their InfoPath plans in a blog post this last Friday.

Forms
Using forms is a good way to make business processes structured and user friendly, and when you use an InfoPath form users can fill it out in any webbrowser, without downloading anything or having InfoPath installed.

In the tips articles I mentioned, I have explained how to use InfoPath with SharePoint. InfoPath forms store data in XML files, so compared to list forms they are more flexible. List forms store the data directly in a SharePoint list so data can only be saved to that list, but data from an InfoPath form can be saved to various locations.  But this of course requires more knowledge from the administrator who creates or modifies the form.

Last versions
Microsoft Office InfoPath is included in the Office package, and the InfoPath Forms Services are included in the Enterprise versions of SharePoint 2010 and 2013. Now Microsoft has declared that InfoPath and InfoPath Forms Services 2013 are the last releases.

New forms technology
Office 2013 logoInstead of InfoPath, Microsoft will develop "intelligent, integrated forms across Office clients, servers, and services—forms that everyone can use on their PC, tablet, or phone." Evidently the new forms will work with SharePoint, Access, and Word.

Continue with InfoPath!
At the same time as Microsoft is retiring InfoPath they encourage current users to continue with InfoPath until they can give more details. Parallell to the development of the new technology Microsoft will find ways to migrate InfoPath forms to forms of the next generation, and right now there are no better alternatives.

Until 2023, except 365
Both the InfoPath 2013 client and InfoPath Forms Services for SharePoint will be supported through April 2023. However, when it comes to InfoPath Forms Services in Office 365 Microsoft only says that it will be supported "until further notice" – a rather worrying statement!

SharePoint Conference 2014 logoMore info
At the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas in the beginning of March we will know more about the new form technology. I am still not sure if I will join it or not, but of course I will make sure I get this interesting information anyway. We will have to wait until the last quarter of this year until Microsoft reveals more about the migration process.

InfoPath tutorials
My InfoPath Tips articles are "Customize a Task Form with InfoPath in SharePoint 2013" and "Add An InfoPath Form to A SharePoint 2013 Form Library".

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeIf you are using the kalmstrom.com Solution Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint, you might also be interested in my blog post about InfoPath customization of a Kanban Task Manager task form.

The YouTube video included in the Form Library tips article is the second most watched of all the kalmstrom.com demos. Also the tutorial about customization has been popular, so it is evident that people use and appreciate InfoPath. It will be interesting to see what Microsoft will come up with to replace it!

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions