Direction on Forms in SharePoint

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InfoPath is sun-setting. This was announced earlier this year. During the first day of SPC 2014, there was a funeral procession for InfoPath headed up by Joel Olson. The first sessions on Tuesday was “Update on InfoPath and SharePoint Forms”. According to the info on the conference, the future of forms is from the Access Team.

One of the elements of this offering is App Forms (or Access App). The use of the name Access is a bit of a misnomer as there is no Access database. Access can be used to design the App. You design an app that contains tables and relationships between these tables. The tables are created as normal SQL Server tables. You can design pages on top of these tables in the designer to list all items, view and edit items etc.

Some of the solutions we create today use SharePoint lists to implement the data structure for a line of business application. The Apps Forms technology could be an interesting alternative as you can create a stronger relational structure with the power of SQL Server behind it. The challenge is that the App Forms today are stand alone and not really integrated into SharePoint (document libraries, workflows etc).

The scenario of our Hired app concept where you have a combination of lists, libraries, pages and workflows had been discussed. According to the Access developer, this scenario is on their road map.

An upcoming technology is FoSL– Forms on SharePoint lists. This uses the Access Services Forms technology to design custom view/edit forms on top of a SharePoint list with a browser based design experience. Microsoft is investing in this technology as their forms technology going forward.

Microsoft admitted that they do not have all the answers yet. They are eager to get feedback and were quite open about where they are, what scenarios they are looking into and their current roadmap. Is this is a technology we will use in our projects and apps? The jury is still out on this one.