Enabling InfoPath for SharePoint Online

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Contributor

We were thinking about enabling InfoPath on our SharePoint Online platform.

The attached message appears which caused some concern.

It states that O365 will support InfoPath forms through 2015.

InfoPathMessage.png

 When you go to the web site that is suggested, it takes you to the original InfoPath announcement. Which includes that for O365 - InfoPath will be support until further notice.
So was this 2015... or is this a typo?

Has anyone enabled InfoPath on SharePoint Online? If so can you share your experiences?

34 Replies
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see https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/SharePoint/InfoPath-support-in-SharePoint-Online/m-p/96994#M9...

 

Why do you think you want to use InfoPath? doing this will probably be a major headache. PowerApps is going to a be better choice in almost all scenarios.

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As Dean states you no longer want to use Infopath but use Powerapps now!

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Hi Lori, based on your usecase, PowerApps and Microsoft Forms might be a good option to look into instead of Infopath. Here is a guideline for starting with it. PowerApps: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powerapps/guided-learning/ Microsoft Flow: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/flow/guided-learning/get-started hth, Martina

Thank you everyone for your feedback.

We are going to use PowerApps, however since InfoPath is still available we figured it would be much easier to create a few forms this way as InfoPath is a more familiar tool to our users at this time. It's been very misleading when you read statements such as "You should continue to use InfoPath technology".  Either way, it sounds like it is not a good idea to use InfoPath anymore.

Regarding Microsoft Flow, not sure how much we will use this as it appears to be more of a personal workflow application. Most of our workflows are set up by a site administrator or site owner, on a list/library for multi level approvals, permissions settings, adding users to AD groups, notifying groups of users, updating items that meet certain criteria, in which all users with access can start these workflows.
Or am I misunderstanding the use of Microsoft Flow?

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Hi Lori,

Good move to get into PowerApps. 

 

Regarding Flow - a user or an admin creates the flow - but its available for all on that list or library - so not really a Site workflow - more of a list workflow. The key thing once the user creates it is to share ownership of the Flow to other admins to reduce any issues downstream in terms of editing it.

 

You can do a fair bit with flow - somethings like impersonation steps or have a flow run once a year type thing arent really there yet - but a fair bit is. So worth investigating.

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I am a little disappointed that nobody answered your actual question. I pasted part of the text from the link (http://aka.ms/ipfs) in your screenshot at the bottom of my reply. 

 

This is not to say I disagree with learning and using powerapps, I don't. It is clearly the future.    However, I also think we are in the business of providing productivity solutions that work for our customers (in my case internal) now. If you view the Microsoft Product Lifecycle page https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/search/16653 you will see that Mainstream support for InfoPath 2013 is 7/13/2021 and the extended support is 7/14/2018.

 

I spent many hours developing solutions in InfoPath and SPD.   I see no reason why I shouldn't use those tools if I, or an internal customer, has a modest need with a short lifecycle.   However if I was to suggest an approach by someone who had to learn either one, I would suggest PowerApps since that is the right place to invest in skill development. 

 

That said  - Where do you enable it in SharePoint Online?  Are you talking about the SharePoint Admin Center | Infopath | Browser-enabled Form Templates?  I have both "Allow users to browser-enable form templates" and "Render form templates that are browser-enabled by users" enabled.   I have not built anything as complicated as I used to in SP2010, but I have used infopath to customize list forms and they worked fine.  It was a fun (to me) quick way to make a pretty form, with some field rules that satisfied the needs of an internal customer.  They only needed the solution for 6 months, so it wasn't a long term investment. 

 

Here is an update from 1/31/2014 - I am going to take MS at its word and I have not heard the "until further notice" message that says the InfoPath is no longer supported in O365.  Has someone else?  Did I miss the communication?

 

https://blogs.office.com/en-us/2014/01/31/update-on-infopath-and-sharepoint-forms/

As part of the update shared around the Evolution of SharePoint and the next SharePoint Server on-premises release, we are also updating the timelines for removal of InfoPath Forms Services components of SharePoint and SharePoint Online. Specifically, InfoPath Forms Services will be included in the next on-premises release of SharePoint Server 2016, as well as being fully supported in Office 365 until further notice. Customers will be able to confidently migrate to SharePoint Server 2016 knowing that their InfoPath forms will continue to work in their on-premises environments, as well as in Office 365. 

The InfoPath 2013 application remains the last version to be released and will work with SharePoint Server 2016.

 

"Who has the laser pointer, and who are the cats"

 

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Thank you @Gregory Frick. I appreciate the updated lifecycle information. We did go ahead and enabled InfoPath on our SP Online platform. We are not going to promote it, however it will be there for users that have that comfort level. Now on to learning Power Aps!! I hope it will become second nature like InfoPath was to me.

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I will join you on the path to PowerApps mastery. I have to remember that I spent many hours with InfoPath and I even taught a couple of classes on it. I am sure I will have to exert a similar level of effort with PowerApps.
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If you want to learn PowerApps, i can recommend this course on edX, https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:Microsoft+DAT227x+1T2018/course/

 

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On PowerApps training - following @Audrie Gordon in YouTube for get started and functions is a real winner. Check out - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCspdrsKTBXJTGuco6U3KF0Q/playlists?disable_polymer=1  

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Excellent, Thank you @Richard Burdes.
I will be sure to follow @Audrie Gordon on YouTube. She does a great job with training and instruction for PowerApps.

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I used InfoPath and built highly customized forms using many rules and conditions. Is there a way to migrate these forms to PowerApps? or this is all throw away work?

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I would keep an open mind at the moment. We are in a similar position and have InfoPath fully integrated into critical business systems in Office365.  We have been carefully monitoring the situation.

 

To be honest there is nothing out there (despite claims to the contrary) that can fully replace InfoPath and I presume this is one reason why Microsoft have slowed down its demise. (It has been included in SharePoint Server 2019). PowerApps and Flow are not there yet.

 

Our policy is to replace InfoPath and we are doing this gradually. Wherever possible we are migrating to SharePoint Lists and have been successful in using Skybow to develop forms and Qdabra Form Viewer as a disaster recovery solution..

 

I must admit, the uncertainty around InfoPath has been extremely disruptive and Microsoft have failed miserably in handling this well with it's client base.

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I totally agree with your thinking Steve, and the pragmatic approach you have taken to move things forward.

 

There are many companies who over many years have invested in developing with InfoPath (and some who still do) and a message of 'PowerApps is the replacement for all' is not entirely helpful to them or in my opinion the whole truth. It saddens me that the extended usefulness of InfoPath as a product has not been recognised, and let's be generous here and say that perhaps Microsoft and other influencers who suggest only using PowerApps haven’t used InfoPath to any depth. 

 

I’ve developed many solutions with InfoPath and some with PowerApps, and if you are looking at the current functionality, I would judge that it can only do 50% of that which InfoPath 2013 can do - and it requires a far greater level of Developer involvement to reach that far. It also requires Flow to be used to cover certain workflow aspects as well.  I do admit that it is a technology which is old, deemed out of date, is a bit clunky and is not great at all from a server perspective, but that's because there has been no real active development of it for more than 5 years. 

 

To my mind that results in a real problem; knowing that which can be achieved with InfoPath and comparing it with that which can be achieved with PowerApps, which solution should a Company opt to use? Undoubtedly over time the PowerApps functional capability will improve, however Microsoft have already spent 3++ years developing PowerApps and it has no where near the level of capability it needs to replace technical InfoPath forms.  How long Microsoft will need to increase the functionality to 75% is anyone’s guess.   It’s also very obvious that its whole bias is the mobile & tablet focus which just doesn’t cut it if you need forms of a complex and highly capable nature to reflect some Processes of a business. 

 

If you can use PowerApps to replace the simpler instances of InfoPath design then I strongly encourage people to do that. But I also strongly encourage people to seriously look at the complexity and awkwardness of pushing the design capability of PowerApps too far (at the moment), and then having to un-pick/re-design/re-develop that as new features appear (or don’t). 

 

The only natural framework I’ve come across which picks up the InfoPath development effort already invested by companies and takes that as it is, are the Qdabra products. They are the ultimate progressive up-grade path for InfoPath forms ensuring that anything of a technically competent nature has a way of being supported – it’s like proceeding down a street which has a sign-posted as ‘No Exit’ and discovering a cut through to take you back to the main road!

 

I also concur Steve with your uncertainty comment – Microsoft have really messed up with this one big time.

 Alan C.

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One important thing to consider is that we're talking about SharePoint Online, so whilst InfoPath will continue to be a supported product until 2026, including support in the on-premises versions of SharePoint Server, that doesn't mean it will continue to be supported in SharePoint Online for the same period.

 

Any feature can be withdrawn from SharePoint Online at any time with the requisite notice which I believe is One Year. Any organisation banking on the availability of InfoPath for a developed solution needs to ensure that they understand the risk and the potential cost if they have to rebuild that solution in a reduced timescale.

 

That doesn't mean MS are going to pull the product early, but you have to allow for the fact that if it makes commercial sense they can, and you should plan accordingly.

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I understand and fully appreciate that the Forms Services element of SharePoint Online (to run InfoPath browser forms) could be pulled my Microsoft at any point, and that is why to me the FormsViewer functionality as provided by Qdabra is the ‘get out of jail (almost) free’ element in the process as far as I am concerned. (I must point out here I am not a Qdabra employee but I am someone who has been looked at many options and am convinced of the approach they have taken with their products.)

 

Knowing that at any time I can continue to use an InfoPath template form via the FormsViewer capability (in crude terms it takes the place of the Forms Server functionality on the server) takes the pressure off entirely.  The code can be installed in-house if need be if security or governance needs require that, however the web version works with both Office 365 or in-house usage.  Very importantly it doesn’t store the outcomes – the records /XML files online, just a copy of the design template needs to be uploaded.

 

Why I've been so convinced about this approach is that the FormsViewer framework means there is no application rebuild process to have to consider at all as native XSN templates can be upload, tested and trialled and then brought directly into production either to parallel run or on simple switch over.  Again importantly the existing documents and all future records (XML files and meta data) remain in the same SharePoint library and site so there is absolutely minimal effort and cost when switching over.

 

To expand my position a bit more, I’m not saying that continuing use of InfoPath is ultimately a sensible long term decision to make, rather I am saying use it while we can, plan to ensure you can still use it in the future (using the FormsViewer capability), and then ultimately look to migrate to a new Business Application (in whatever solution framework actually meets the need for that application - including looking at PowerApps) when it becomes appropriate to do so from a BUSINESS perspective – i.e. when the business needs alter or change. At the same time if InfoPath is no longer fitting the bill or can be supported, or if Microsoft pull the plug on the Forms Server element of SharePoint, then those also become points to ask ‘Do we change’ questions.

 

As you can guess from the bit of a rant up above, I really like InfoPath and consider there is nothing at the moment that comes close in the Microsoft stack to replace it. From what I’ve seen happen with PowerApps over the past year or so I unfortunately doubt I shall change that position in the coming year either.  I wish that wasn’t the case and Microsoft had announced a really excellent replacement with BOTH mobile & tablet AND desktop application capability – but they haven’t. 

 

As such I’m trying to make the best of a bad job, trying to ensure that people think twice before they spend vast sums on rebuilding perfectly good applications (for the moment) which were developed in InfoPath, and to encourage businesses to extract as much value as they can from their investment.

 

Sorry – I’ll get off my soapbox now! Regards  Alan C.

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Perfectly sensible rant Alan.. I'm an InfoPath fan myself too so I do get where you're coming from. I guess my point was that Businesses need to make the decision with the understanding of the risk involved. It certainly sounds like you've made that decision based on a sound understanding of the risks.

 


 

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I know I'm a little late to the thread, but I wanted to chime in and say I agree 100% with Alan and Steve.  I've worked with InfoPath for over a decade and have built some ridiculously complex forms.  I know I haven't been working with PowerApps nearly as long, but from my experience so far, it isn't there by any stretch of the imagination.   Complex forms with massive amounts of custom logic and conditional formatting are relatively straightforward to implement in InfoPath but are very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to completely implement in PowerApps given the display limitations (lack of real estate, lack of sections, lack of repeating tables, lack of real control over layout, etc).  Now, maybe my list is wrong and maybe I'm overlooking some capabilities of PowerApps since I'm still fairly new (at least, I HOPE that's the case), but it sure seems to me that Microsoft has really done a poor job on guidance regarding what to do with the impending demise of InfoPath.

 

Also, thanks for the pointer on Qdabra - I'd heard of it but hadn't done a deep dive yet, but you can bet I will.  :)

 

 

 

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@Lori Brady  @Gregory Frick ,

 

Can either of you, or anyone else, share how to enable InfoPath on SharePoint Online?

 

Thanks.