Forms Technology for Office 365

Enterprise Forms are one of the most requested features in any organization. Microsoft SharePoint provides forms Out of the box for lists and libraries. But what about business requirements where we need to customize these forms to meet our business needs ? In this blog post series "Form Technology for Office 365", we will evaluate and weight various options available to us.

Evaluation of InfoPath Forms:

Microsoft had released InfoPath technology along with Office 2003 and it was available to us from SharePoint 2007 onward versions. It is still supported but deprecated. You can see details around timeline for support for InfoPath at support for InfoPath.

Current Status :

InfoPath is included in SharePoint 2016 release.
InfoPath is fully supported in Office 365 until further notice.
The InfoPath 2013 application remains the last version to be released.

Why InfoPath is being discontinued?

InfoPath was great and it was easy to build custom forms using InfoPath then why it is being deprecated ? Main reason is it was not aligned with Microsoft's vision of Cloud first mobile first vision and lack of responsive interface.

Different Forms Technologies

You will find many articles claiming these are alternatives for InfoPath. There is no actual replacement to InfoPath as of today, instead we have many options that we need to evaluate and make an informed decision which will best suit our need.

While choosing alternative for InfoPath, it is very much necessary to evaluate the complexity and functionality to be build. Microsoft is continuously adding new features to PowerApps and this product has been marketed as successor to InfoPath. Still...

“InfoPath does many, many things, and not all of them are in PowerApps just yet. Some of them, frankly, might not ever get there.”

–Chris McNulty at Build, May 2017

Lets have a look at all the possible forms technologies that we can use with Office 365.

Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms is relatively new service which is still is preview and it is intended to be used for creating surveys, quizzes and polls. This is very lightweight forms technology that should not be compared with PowerApps features.

PowerApps

The official document defines PowerApps as a Service

"PowerApps is a service that lets you build business apps that run in a browser or on a phone or tablet, and no coding experience is required"

PowerApps is intended for PowerUsers and it provides no code customization and mobile support out of the box. It has well integrations with Microsoft Flow. We will see how to use PowerApps to customize list forms in Office 365 SharePoint Online.

Third Party forms

If you are looking for third party solutions, there are some third party vendors who provides custom forms for Office 365 notably:

KWizCom
Nintex Forms
K2 Forms
and many more...
Advantage of using third party forms is quick and easy wizards to create and publish forms. These of course have cost associated with them for licensing.

Fully Custom form using .NET

You can always create fully custom form using .NET framework and host is OnPrem or Cloud. These forms provides highest level of control over data and validation but it comes with slow development time and hosting cost.

Custom Forms using Angular

Angular(2+) comes with dedicated module for building Enterprise Grade Forms. These forms can be deployed and integrated easily with SharePoint Online.

These are main 5 options that gives support building forms and they vary in supported features, pros and cons. We will need to choose appropriate form technology based on our need.

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