Monday, February 3, 2014

InfoPath is Dead, Long Dead InfoPath

This is just a quick, ill-conceived post about the recent announcement that InfoPath 2013 will be the last version of InfoPath.  I'm still processing exactly what my recommendation to my SharePoint customers will be, but this certainly feeds into my general love/hate relationship with SharePoint.

On the one hand, InfoPath has in theory offered users the ability to build web forms without writing code.  The sales spiel has always been that power users could simply drag a few fields to the page and build business forms without involving developers or "needing to know HTML".  Easy instant form creation FTW!

On the other hand  I have yet to see this materialize in real-world organizations.  What happens in real life is developers end up being the ones to use InfoPath (and workflow), and often end up frustrated by the tools, which by their very nature are not as powerful as coding solutions from scratch.

We don't know yet what Microsoft's next big thing for forms will be.  The official guidance is to keep using InfoPath and wait for more info soon.  Andrew Connell and other SP bloggers suggest that writing HTML+JS forms against the SharePoint API(s) are the way of the future.  This certainly seems like wise guidance to me.  Certainly, HTML+JS is here to stay, and with tools like jQuery, Angular, and Knockout, it's easier than ever to build rich, cross-browser user experiences that InfoPath just can't do.

Maybe it is time to admit that the panacea of a "no code solution" for web forms never really existed, and maybe shouldn't exist.  Maybe you should be expected to know HTML and Javascript if you are to do web based forms reasonably well.

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