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Infopath 2010 vs Custom Application

Posted on 2010-09-10
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My company is considering using Infopath and Sharepoint to create an application to gather data from users in the field.  This would be a pretty basic application involving the user adding and editing what amounts to timesheets.  Then from that, creating some summary reports for their inputs only.  The management would want to be able to create/view reports across all the users.  Sounds like something that can be done within Infopath and Sharepoint.  But i'm a novice when it comes to the development using those tools.

The advantage seems to be the modification of this application would not have to involve a developer per se like a custom application would.  If the employee within the company is very good at learning both Infopath and Sharepoint - then they could in effect modify the Infopath/Sharepoint application.

So, can you tell me if this makes sense or not?
Thanks!
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Question by:JLEmlet
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duffman76 earned 500 total points
ID: 33646045
Infopath and Sharepoint certainly give you a lot of flexibility when creating custom applications with reports.  You can create  a form in InfoPath that ties back to a Sharepoint site and then uses the workflow of Sharepoint.  In your example this could allow a manager to get notified that time has been entered and is awaiting his approval.  

Keep in mind while a good solution and it would work, that everyone would need to have InfoPath in order use and fill out the forms you make.  You can make a web based infopath form so people do not have to have Infopath but it is pretty limited and eventually you will want to put a feature in that requires the full piece.
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by:JLEmlet
ID: 33646074
Thanks for the info!  And is it correct to assume that the form can use a SQL Server database as the source for adding/editing the data?
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by:clayfox
ID: 33646079
Yah this is a valid solution and I would recommend just because InfoPath, once your up to speed, gives you the ability to rapidly deploy forms for this project and many other data collection projects.  SharePoint is a great partner in that it provides the ability to integrate data and host the forms. The only issue is that as a data repository SharePoint libraries filled with individual XML files is not ideal.  It limits your ability to report on the data as well as to migrate the data compared to what a true database can provide.
If you are using SP2010 you can use BCS to bridge this gap but you probably should look at the solution from www.qdabra.com on how to easily add webservices to your SQL server.  This gives you all of the beneifts I mentioned while also databasing the data for aggregated reports and possibly even interfacing it directly with payroll or finance.  The tools they provide gives you an enterprise class platform to make this just the first of many successful solutions.

I know I sound like a sales guy, but I am not. I have just spent years creating InfoPath solutions and if I was going to start today, I would want the correct tools and design architecture to make it as easy on me as possible and give me the most power and flexibility to build the solutions my company needs.
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