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Is Infopath a good choice and why is it used so heavily with Sharepoint

Posted on 2012-09-20
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Last Modified: 2012-09-22
Hi

I am a VB.net/ASP.net developerand looking at moving to Sharepoint. I see that Infopath is used a lot with this.
Is Infopath a good choice to use as the forms in Sharepoint? Should I rather ignore it and just use my ASP.net skills?
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Question by:Murray Brown
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by:Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE)
Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE) earned 1000 total points
ID: 38417423
Hello,

InfoPath is a great tool for end users to create solutions in SharePoint WITHOUT involving code, developers and everything involved with these two concepts that end users normally don't understand.

InfoPath allows complex logic and conditional actions that go way beyond the out of the box SharePoint functionality, and all of this can be achieved through the InforPath Designer user interface.

On top of that, InfoPath forms can also be customised with code behind the scenes, which has some implications on how the forms are published to the user.

If you are a developer, you may want to get familiar with InfoPath to see how it can make your life easier, because a lot of wheels have already been invented, so you don't have to do everything from scratch.

Depending on the project brief, you may then decide whether or not to use IP, use it as a starting point and jazz it up with your own code, or go all custom development.

Mind you, in SharePoint 2010 any list form can be customised with InfoPath, but this is a very limited and not very representative showcase of what InfoPath can do. Jazzing up a list form with IP is just cosmetics. The real power of IP is in managing data stored in XML and providing an intuitive way of presenting XML data to the end user without involving developers like you.

:-)

cheers, teylyn
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Clay Fox earned 1000 total points
ID: 38417579
Well put.
if you have coding skills you will find InfoPath has its strengths and weaknesses just like everything.

Advantages of Infopath over ASP is that it is standardized and packaged. faster to develop and easier to support in the long run.  InfoPath is designed to be a bridge for office workers to create solutions without need for custom coding.

The biggest issue I have seen over the years with people new to InfoPath.  Non developers trying to learn and understand data structures, UI design, programming constructs.  When developers often use InfoPath, they make the mistake of coding everything and trying to make InfoPath work like ASP or whatever.  This leads to a lot of extra time and effort since Infopath can do 95% with just rules and actions.  I have made probably over 100 hundred form solutions, many of them very complex, and only used code in maybe half. In those I have maybe 6-10 lines.  I like to print programmatically which requires code to not have to use the standard office print button is the most common code I use.

I would also echo that you really want to use a SQL database to manage the information.
SharePoint lists are OK, but are not as robust and eventually everyone wishes they had a database to aggregate the data collected and do reporting etc.  If you are going to make an enterprise solution, do it right the first time.  So use InfoPath as the front end for your database, like you would ASP.  That way everyone has the latest info and there is one source, rather than hundreds to thousands of XML blobs around.

Www.qdabra.com has a toolset to bridge some of the gaps but shows a lot of the potential and promise of this model.

Hope that helps.
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by:Murray Brown
ID: 38424314
Excellent help. Thank you both very much
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