About InfoPath:

Microsoft released InfoPath as a part of Office 2003. InfoPath Designer provides several controls which will bind to the data source and present to end users. InfoPath stores the data in the XML format. The development of the complex data entry forms would be very easy and simple with the use of this InfoPath Designer. User can fill up the form in the browser which doesn’t require any prerequisites to install in their machine. It is very interactive and user friendly. The functionalities can be implemented simply by using “Rules and Actions”. Microsoft has integrated this with Microsoft SharePoint.  InfoPath Form Services takes over the feature to host the InfoPath Template on the SharePoint Website. Microsoft has released the consecutive versions of InfoPath form such as InfoPath 2003, InfoPath 2007, InfoPath 2010, and InfoPath 2013. During this year Microsoft strategically decided to discontinue InfoPath Forms Services and support will be  provided until April, 2023.

Evolvement of Forms:

Microsoft’s goal is to deliver tools that are flexible and agile so that the user can quickly connect to data source and processes in new and exciting ways. Microsoft is looking to make investments that allow users to easily design, deploy and use intelligent, integrated forms across Office clients, servers and services.

To deliver a more integrated Office forms user experience, Microsoft is retiring InfoPath and investing in new forms technology across SharePoint, Access and Word.  Microsoft is yet to provide an approach for migrating the existing InfoPath forms.

Replacements for InfoPath Form:

Microsoft has come up with the replacements and the below tools are apt replacement for InfoPath

  • Excel Surveys
  • List Forms
  • Structured Documents
  • App Forms

Excel Surveys:

This will provide users to design Forms in Excel Online with Excel Surveys. It is also referred as FoSS, – Forms on Spreadsheet. It is already available in Office 365 and OneDrive customers and it will be improved continuously. Also, Included with Office 2013.

List Form:

List Forms are also referred as FoSL – Forms on SharePoint Lists. It provides the easy creation of forms and direct customization within browsers. It will be specific to the SharePoint Lists and there will not be any SQL backend, Access backend, and Code. FoSL is tied to the SharePoint Lists, will be available as “Customize Form” Ribbon menu for SharePoint Lists. In near days or months, support will be added for all the features that are available similar to the InfoPath Forms. It is available for Office 365 customer in late of 2015 and for SharePoint On-Premises in SharePoint vNext server product in 2015.

Structured Documents

Structured Documents is a type of form technology that enables you to create modern forms in Word. It is the replacement of the InfoPath form Library which is based on Microsoft word Technologies. More information will be replaced by end of the year.

App Forms

App forms are based on access Services Apps technology. It has similar UI as FoSL. It is already available for Office 365 customers as Access Services. It is also included with Office 365 & SharePoint 2013 On- Premises as Access Services 2013 Service Application. It will have a SQL backend and it is a self-contained apps. It doesn’t require SharePoint List or spreadsheet as data back-end.

It seems like this new form technology will have multiple options and clear direction on when to use what.