As you may have heard, Microsoft is retiring its InfoPath electronic forms software. Microsoft first released InfoPath over a decade ago as part of Office 2003. At the beginning of this year the software giant announced that InfoPath 2013 would be the last release of the popular forms technology. But not to fret, Microsoft will not leave its current InfoPath users in the lurch while they work towards developing new forms technologies.
Microsoft is now concentrating their efforts on developing new, intelligent and integrated forms. The evolution of MS forms is intended to make it easy to design, deploy and use forms across Office platforms and networks like Word, Access and SharePoint. By streamlining focus and investing resources, they are able to develop a more integrated Office forms experience for users; one that is flexible and spans across devices.
Microsoft is working on migration guidance for InfoPath customers as they build out their next generation of forms technology and subsequent roadmap. They will continue to support InfoPath 2013 and InfoPath Forms Services for SharePoint Server 2013 through April 2023. Microsoft talked about the future of Office forms at a conference earlier this year, discussing these possible forms solutions to replace InfoPath:
- Excel Surveys - Forms on Spreadsheets or “FoSS” (pronounced “fossis”) is already included with Office 2013 and a web version is expected to be available in SharePoint Server. Designed in Excel online, they are great for quick surveys and forms - once the data from users is captured, it is imported into Excel.
- List Forms –Forms on SharePoint List - FoSL (pronounced “fossil”) provide easy entry for modern design and customization abilities within the browser. FoSL is based on Access design technology and will be available as a Customize Form feature in SharePoint Lists.
- Structured Documents – Structured Documents are based on MS Word and may be a replacement for InfoPath Library. These forms are dependable, printable, and archival. A roadmap for structured forms is expected by the end of the year.
- App Forms – App Forms is based on Access Services Apps technology and are like self-contained apps where lists and items are linked through relationships. App forms don’t require SharePoint Lists or Spreadsheets and are already available for Office 365 customers as Access Services.