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Evaluating Alternatives to InfoPath – Six Criteria

There is currently no complete Microsoft alternative to InfoPath. Microsoft’s article states that customers should continue using InfoPath for now and that it will be supported for 10 years. We’re waiting to hear if Forms on SharePoint Lists or other technologies like Siena will fill the gaps.

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A good replacement technology will have the following:

  1. Support for XML – document centric forms are key to enabling Web 2.0 biz processes, and customers want to own their own data format (which XML allows); they also need to connect to Web services
  2. Support for HTML – good looking Web forms are critical and HTML is the Web standard for that. PDF is another option but doesn’t handle XML as well.
  3. Support for Business Logic – no-code smart forms are less costly to maintain and build since business process experts don’t need to communicate to developers; they can create the forms themselves.
  4. Low Cost Licensing – InfoPath is installed for many people today and the licensing cost is therefore minimal. A new technology to InfoPath must provide a cost effective migration path.
  5. Reliable and Stable – InfoPath has been around since 2003 and is backed by a leading enterprise software company that has proven to be reliable; the new technology must come from a solid company and Microsoft is committed to supporting customers – that’s why they’re supporting InfoPath through 2023.
  6. App Ready – smart forms running on devices need integration with GPS, finger signatures, camera, etc. Browsers can’t currently do those things, but Formotus forms using InfoPath format can.

There is no one-size fits-all solution out there but I do think the above 6 criteria will hold strong for the technology that eventually replaces InfoPath. We created a new beta web site called FormsQuo to help people get a handle on the different migration paths.

Another important note: if you’re using InfoPath today, you have lots of options because it’s easy to take the data stored in XML and map it to other technologies. So, there’s no need to make a drastic change anytime soon. I would wait and see what MS comes up with.

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