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Microsoft announces InfoPath 2013 is the last version … what to do!?

On Friday, Microsoft announced that InfoPath 2013 would be the last version: http://blogs.office.com/2014/01/31/update-on-infopath-and-sharepoint-forms/

Many InfoPath form designers, users and business process managers may be wondering what to do.

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Short Summary

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: these are 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.

Thank you!

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