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Options to Create Forms in SharePoint 2013

Senior Product Marketing Manager Keenan Newton introduces multiple options available for forms creation with Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013.

Forms are an intricate part of many organizations as they feed information into business processes that allow the organization to manage day-to-day processes.  Forms are used for internal processes such as hardware and software acquisition as well as externally for collecting information on a new potential customer. For almost a decade, we’ve delivered a best-in-class forms experience as part of Microsoft Office.  As with much in the technology world, customer needs in the forms space have evolved and, with the new Office and new SharePoint, we have enhanced the forms experience to meet these needs.     

You have a choice of tools for building forms with SharePoint, including InfoPath, Access, Excel, and Visual Studio. These tools can create custom forms within a SharePoint solution or an app for SharePoint. Below is an overview of the tool choices, including the benefits and common scenarios for each.

InfoPath

 InfoPath is our integrated forms solution for the foreseeable future. It’s a great choice for business users who want to customize lists or who want advanced features such as offline editing or digital signatures. You also can use InfoPath 2013 to maintain existing InfoPath forms.

Access

Access 2013 now addresses scenarios in which a business user wants to rapidly create end-to-end web-based business solutions, including those that involve custom forms. Some examples of business solutions that are prime candidates for Access 2013 include apps for asset management, contact management, and inventory management. Business solutions created with Access 2013, packaged into apps, and deployed onto SharePoint can be used by anyone within an organization or shared externally via the SharePoint Store.  For new end-to-end business solutions that include forms, we recommend that you consider Access 2013 first, because of its end-to-end solution design focus.

Excel

We have included forms in Excel Web Apps for building simple forms such as surveys or simple data collection.

Visual Studio

For application development, we recommend Visual Studio so you can use the capabilities provided in the new cloud app model for Office and SharePoint, which embraces current web standards such as HTML5, enables web developers to build solutions with the developer tools and platforms they know best. For developers who require the unique capabilities of InfoPath, such as digital signatures, you can now use the full power of Visual Studio to extend InfoPath solutions.

In summary, our products provide a lot of flexibility for business users to create forms-based solutions. Deciding the right tool to use will of course be ultimately dependent on your specific needs, but I hope that this post will help give you some guidance on what to choose.

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8 comments
  1. That’s very interesting and is welcome to hear that the plan for InfoPath 2013 is to be the integrated forms solution for SharePoint for the foreseeable future. At the SPC2012 conference in Vegas, my colleagues noticed there wasn’t any discussion around IP2013 going forward and had seen some other rumblings online that it was perhaps going to be deprecated.

    So just to clarify, InfoPath 2013 forms integration is still supported in SharePoint 2013, with similar product features to the 2010 suite of InfoPath and SharePoint?

  2. InfoPath, Access and Excel Web Apps are all great solutions when running SharePoint Enterprise CALs. What form solutions are available with Standard or Foundation?

    • In SharePoint 2013, you might want to look at HTML5/JavaScript forms. Or you can still use InfoPath form libraries, but with Standard or Foundation the user needs to open the form in the client version of InfoPath.

  3. I reckon you’ve got ASPX forms in that case.

    Yes good to hear about InfoPath 2013 being supported for the near future. It would be good to see some improvements in how it operates (particularly the Forms Services component), not so much new features but niggling things that would make development easier.

  4. Matthew, yes InfoPath is still supported and has essentially the same features in SharePoint 2013 as it does in 2010. I gave the only forms talk at SPC 2012; we didn’t focus much on InfoPath 2013 because the features haven’t really changed from 2010.

  5. The statement ‘InfoPath is our integrated forms solution for the foreseeable future’ is not what I heard at the (one session) that focused on forms at SPC 2012. What I heard was that InfoPath is ‘supported’, but it is recommended for new forms developement to use Access or VS/apps. Is this still acurate advise? Did I misunderstand the message at SPC 2012 (it seemed pretty clear)? Thanks for any clarification!

  6. Do you have any advice for using infopath form services from an app?
    I imagine the xsn would have to be in the host web, and refernced by url. Once the form is completed, the app would access services to read the data submitted.

    I know ther’s an article on cross domain javascript, with regards to host/app domains. Could this technique be used to optimise communication between the form and the app which uses the form?

  7. infopath form are mostly used for UI in organization……

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