Many InfoPath form designers, users and business process managers may be wondering what to do.
InfoPath technology is currently the best electronic form technology on the market for the following reasons:
- Low cost – included in SharePoint/O365, office workers can create rich forms that validate input without code
- Easy to deploy – no client installs required; InfoPath supports browser forms and domain trust
- Connect to Web services – InfoPath’s native XML support means you can easily connect to enterprise data to pre-populate fields and dropdowns without code
- Good looking forms – InfoPath displays forms in HTML which is Web client and means you can create very good-looking rich forms
Microsoft has announced that 2013 will be the last version but what’s next?
- Microsoft will support InfoPath 2013 (and SharePoint 2013) until 2023
- Currently, there is no specific guidance on Migrating InfoPath
- Microsoft has hinted that there will be another announcement at the SharePoint 2014 conference in March
- Because InfoPath format is XML, assuming your InfoPath forms have well-named data sources, it will be easy to migrate your existing form data to another platform
- Several alternate applications already exist that read and write InfoPath-designed forms:
Timeline for InfoPath going away (please note: this is my guess and are not based on communication with Microsoft)
- 2014: Microsoft announces no future InfoPath versions (see blog post above)
- 2014: Microsoft Office 365 (cloud) toggles InfoPath browser option to be default off
- 2016: Microsoft Office 365 disables InfoPath for new customers
- 2016: SharePoint 2016 ships with no support for InfoPath
- 2016: InfoPath Designer available as a free “sunset” download (???)
- 2018: Microsoft Office 365 disables InfoPath browser for all cloud customers
- 2020: Compatibility bugs with service packs prevent filler from working with SharePoint 2016 (???)
- 2022: Last year of support for InfoPath 2013 filler/designer
Suggested migration timeline – here is a proposed timeline for you:
- 2014: wait and see what Microsoft announces new initiatives at SharePoint 2014 conference in March
- 2014: continue using InfoPath to build / prototype electronic form solutions BECAUSE ITS INEXPENSIVE AND DATA CAN BE MOVED EASILY
- 2014: start planning migration of InfoPath forms – review other apps, set priorities and requirements, evaluate cost of all viable options, and get organization buy off on plan
- 2015: perform proof-of-concept migration of one or two forms to vet and/or re-evaluate plan
- 2015: perform migration of a business critical form on existing SharePoint site and/or future SharePoint platform to bolster organizational confidence
- 2015: re-evaluate and revise migration plan based on results of initial migrations
- 2016: migrate all existing business critical InfoPath forms to existing SharePoint site and/or new SharePoint platform
- 2017: migrate non-critical forms as needed
Qdabra Software (providers of InfoPathDev) is here to assist you with your migration.
Action Items for Now
- Check out my webinar recording from last week: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_rhNrFx5D8&list=PL581899A129522F53
- Check out http://formsquo.com/ for updates. We will be updating the site at the end of February and after Microsoft’s announcement in March
- Check out Qdabra’s newsletters
- Create awareness on your team of the potential changes ahead
- Continue doing what you are doing – Microsoft is still using InfoPath internally and likely will be doing so for many years
- Stay abreast of the new developments by following #InfoPath on Twitter.
Lastly, keep in mind that change is the only constant out there. Everything changes eventually so announcing that there will be a change publicly seems a bit pretentious. And, change doesn’t always result in improvement. Lots of companies skip upgrading to new versions if the cost-benefit calculations don’t make business sense.
Qdabra Software is committed to providing you and our many customers a positive path forward. We are here to help you continue creating value from your existing IT investment and assist in planning and implementation of future online business processes.