Bye InfoPath, Hello Apps for Office & Lightswitch

The Microsoft Office announced  on Friday that InfoPath 2013 will be the final version released.  This is a significant announcement because it means any customer with custom SharePoint workflows, Office Document Information Panels, and any other Data Entry Applications will have to move those to a new technology, but Microsoft hasn’t said which one.

My Predictions

I believe Microsoft will recommend customers utilize one of two capabilities.  First, for customized Document Information Panels (those forms that can be added to Office applications, like Word, and can tie back to LOB systems or SharePoint) I believe Microsoft will recommend the use of the new Apps for Office Applications.  The Apps for Office allow creation of custom applications built on Web technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript and a set of Office JavaScript APIs are available for handling bindings to Office Templates.  The significant advantage, and disadvantage, here is that much can be done with customizing the retrieval of information from external systems, as well as customization of the injection of that information into the Document itself, but this also puts greater responsibility on the developers to request the information and push it to the application.

Second, for other business applications where data entry forms are needed, outside of the web, I believe Microsoft will push for the use of LightSwitch.  LightSwitch is a trimmed down version of the Visual Studio environment that allows for quick development of data entry applications/forms.  The information can easily be connected to XML or SQL data sources making this an easy replacement for the InfoPath Form entry design and use.

Feedback

I’d love to hear other’s predictions about what to do with the InfoPath applications that exist out there, so please leave a comment with your thoughts.

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