InfoPath was introduced a decade ago as a form generator for SharePoint and it has been there as a front-end tool for designing custom forms in SharePoint. No doubt that, InfoPath in combination with SharePoint designer and Visual studio workflows, automated many of the business scenarios and made user’s lives easy.
InfoPath forms is xml based and it was primarily built for desktop users targeting SharePoint List and Form library. Microsoft released last InfoPath version along with office 2013 and will be supported by Microsoft till 2026. That means, there won’t be any bug fixes or enhancements.
In the recent year, Software industry is changing rapidly and everything is moving towards cloud. People use multiple devices, multiple enterprise applications for their work and wants to have easy integration between them. For all these queries, Microsoft introduced PowerApps, a new enterprise service that empowers users to connect, create and share business apps with team members on any device in minutes. Also, it aligns well with Microsoft new mantra “Mobile first, cloud first”
PowerApps is considered as a successor for custom forms and it is based on open source version of the software called Apache Cordova powered by Resources from Azure app service. Microsoft is planning to enable embedding PowerApps directly into the SharePoint page, so that it can be viewed as part of the SharePoint page.
In the recent Ignite session, Microsoft indicated that it is heading towards making PowerApps as the first-class citizen for custom forms and same applies to Microsoft Flow over SharePoint Designer workflow. Microsoft Flow is another big topic to discuss and I will take it in another blog.
It is recommended that; any future custom forms should be built on PowerApps. However, in certain cases InfoPath still excels above PowerApps like editing data offline. But, I am sure very soon all the features of InfoPath will have parity in PowerApps. Also, PowerApps may not be suitable if you have complex logic and requirements. In those cases, you can use 3rd party forms like Nintex forms, K2 forms.
Currently, PowerApps is available only in cloud and you need to authenticate against office 365 account. However, Microsoft has taken on premises customers into consideration and introduced gateways which can connect the on-premises SharePoint farm. This way, On-premises customers have better path to connect to Cloud and take advantages of these emerging technologies.
Hope this helps someone out there.
Next blog, I will talk about different components of PowerApps tool along with the customization options. Keep an eye on this space.