Friday, January 20, 2017

How to create a form in SharePoint. InfoPath replacement.

Regardless of the future of still dying InfoPath with its pro and cons there are many other options to create a form in SharePoint with other solutions. Everyone using InfoPath is concerned about finding mobile friendly and simple-to-use alternatives to InfoPath. Which solution you choose will depend on your business needs, company budget, technical skills and other specific factors. In this article, we will highlight the most obvious ways to create a form in SharePoint, using alternatives to InfoPath.

alternatives to InfoPath 1

We have following criteria to be considered:
  • even a non-power user must be capable to create a form in SharePoint
  • the solution must be price-effective
  • the solution involves an easy SharePoint implementation along with a strict compliance of security policies
  • average time to create a form in SharePoint must be optimized

Let`s explore which alternatives to InfoPath you can use.


SharePoint Designer


Out-of-the-box SharePoint forms can be customized with SharePoint Designer if HTML coding doesn’t scare you away. But more complicated forms require more custom code out of a basic understanding of HTML. And you still need to spend a lot of time for a form customization and the result may still have abilities limitations.

3 stars from 5 according to our requirements for a perfect InfoPath replacement



Access


Microsoft Access is an easy way for non-programmers to build in Access custom forms that use SharePoint lists. Among the Access’s flaws are the limited abilities for form view customization and the need to save all data in SQL Server or Azure SQL database that cannot be universally welcomed.

Still 3 stars from the 5 possible because of lacking flexibility


Visual Studio


Visual Studio as a great tool to create flexible forms for SharePoint lists with different technologies. However, Visual Studio works for you only in case you have time and deep developer knowledge. You can consider such solution when you want to maintain a full-blown software project to add a few forms in your SharePoint. But you really don’t if you are out of coding.

3 stars give all non-programmers who do not have a clue what to do after they run Visual Studio.



Excel and Word


Finally, some tools with familiar interface for users who do not want to type strings! Both tools are intuitive and simple. Too simple to create a form in SharePoint that really meets all requirements.

Although, a narrow range of specific tasks can be solved with structured documents in Word or Excel. It is an easy and old-fashioned way to build a sloppy form for a SharePoint list followed with limited access control issues and poor functionality to add some data in SharePoint.

3/5 stars too. Not the best idea to hammer in nails with a microscope. Even with an ol’ good and familiar microscope.



Third Party Tools


Here it is. The salvation for all non-power users with lack of coding skills, administrators and developers who will save time, and for managers eager to get a cost-effective product without installation of other full-scale MS packages.

Considered as alternatives to InfoPath third party solutions have distinct features, characteristics and wide price range. A targeted tool thoroughly developed to meet your purposes is without a doubt the best InfoPath replacement if you want to create a form in SharePoint. Most of these tools deserve 4 or 5 stars, so let`s examine the difference.

The most famous competitors of Virto SharePoint Forms Designer have ski-high prices in addition to boundaries of a complicated configuration process. This way, not every third party solution can pretend to meet all requirements from our list.

The Virto SharePoint Forms Designer provides you all options of a reliable InfoPath alternative intended to SharePoint custom form building.

SharePoint Forms Designer


Even a non-power user must be capable to create a form in SharePoint. 

Check. With Virto SharePoint Forms Designer, any user can create highly customizable interfaces to list items in SharePoint 2013, 2016 and Office 365. If you will go beyond the drag-and-drop controls and polish your form with additional features, be creative with CSS-styles, HTML and JavaScript editors embed in Virto SharePoint Forms Designer.

This solution must be price-effective. 

Check. The flexible pricing options of SharePoint Forms Designer allow you to select an optimal license price for your company.

The solution involves an easy SharePoint implementation along with a strict compliance of security policies. 

It`s true as well. SharePoint Forms Designer add-in or web part are fully integrated with SharePoint and work directly with SharePoint lists. You do not have to run any other programs since you manage a custom form in SharePoint for a certain SharePoint list. The solution’s features allow you to comply with corporate security policies too. Among other abilities of SharePoint Forms Designer are layouts and user or group permissions to view form fields.

Average time to create a form in SharePoint must be optimized. 

My personal record is 6 minutes to create a relatively complex custom SharePoint form for add/edit/delete views of a list. The form contained several list fields with distinct access permissions split to tabs, redirect links from pictures and elementary CSS-styles. Regarded as a time-saver to create a form in SharePoint, SharePoint Forms Designer works much faster than any alternative to InfoPath, including InfoPath itself.


You can learn more how to create a form in SharePoint with Virto SharePoint Forms Designer or download the trial version SharePoint Forms Designer for Office 365 or SharePoint Forms Designer for SharePoint 2013 and 2016 and check how it fits your own SharePoint environment.