2014 was a big year for SharePoint in the world of forms—Microsoft chose to drop support for InfoPath forms. For years SharePoint developers, users and IT Admins used InfoPath as a means for creating clean and intuitive forms to replace out of the box SharePoint forms. In this post, we’ll explore what the future holds for form development in the absence of InfoPath.
Oh no, I use InfoPath… am I ok?
If your SharePoint environment is on-premises, absolutely! If you are currently using InfoPath in your SharePoint on-premises environments, you are still supported until year 2023.
If you are in an Office 365 environment, you are going to want to prepare yourself for switching those forms back to default forms or using one of the methods below. It’s uncertain as to which update will completely phase out InfoPath but you know your forms may all of sudden stop working in the next big Office 365 update.
A SharePoint list out of box (OOTB) provides default forms for both creating and editing items within SharePoint. Users are pretty limited in styling these forms without a SharePoint developer, but they do provide limited functionality such as validating input for required fields and applying specific permissions to SharePoint lists. However, the reason you are reading this blog is probably because you already know this information and you seek to find an alternative to these OOTB forms provided by SharePoint.
Forms on SharePoint Lists “FoSL”
Microsoft announced Forms on SharePoint lists has the next replacement for InfoPath for SharePoint users and IT Admins. Much like how you would edit a Data View web part custom edit form, you’ll be given an interface to add fields, move fields and resize fields in a SharePoint form. It is uncertain however where this interface is going to live. This is proposed to be a replacement for InfoPath because it is a no-code solution that allows end users to create forms on their SharePoint lists. Beware however, the first iteration of FoSL will likely not include functionality for rules, business logic or access to external data.
SharePoint designer opens your world up quite a bit more when augmenting SharePoint’s OOTB features and form sets. You can create a custom form in SharePoint designer as an .aspx page and attach it as default views to your lists. You can even take the default SharePoint forms, and with a little CSS and HTML magic, you can turn those ugly/plain OOTB forms and turn them into beautiful, branded forms with styling and images.
Access Web Apps
Microsoft introduced the new “App-Model” in SharePoint 2013 as a means to extend out of the box SharePoint web application. Access 2013 Web Apps has been created to allow IT Admins to use Access 2013 to construct full-fledged applications for end-to-end business solutions that may require data collection through use of forms.
With the phasing out of InfoPath, it is comforting knowing that Microsoft is working on providing another “no-code” solution to form creation in “FoSL”. However it is still early and we are unsure what the timeline will be for “FoSL” as to when it gets introduced into SharePoint and when more functionality will be implemented. If you are in an on-premises environment, sit back for a while and see how it all unfolds since you have until 2023 to replace your current InfoPath forms.