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back to article Microsoft takes InfoPath behind the shed, says successor will be better

Microsoft has announced that it has axed its Office InfoPath forms-entry software, in favor of a new, yet-to-be-announced technology that will be revealed later this year. "In an effort to streamline our investments and deliver a more integrated Office forms user experience, we're retiring InfoPath and investing in new forms …

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Anonymous Coward

"businesses that are heavily invested in InfoPath"

I'd never heard of it till I saw it earlier this week. Now I read its obituary. Have I led a sheltered life or is it largely irrelevant?

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Re: "businesses that are heavily invested in InfoPath"

It's the component you tick to not install when setting up a new Office installation.

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Infopath is/was a very under promoted tool in Office Enterprise, I used it several times in recent years for data capture & report producing.

I rate it highly.

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It's just typical of Microsoft that when they do do something really good, they don't tell anyone about it. Infopath was/is an absolutely excellent idea well implemented, one of the hidden gems of Office.

Here's hoping they don't f**k up it's successor.

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Anonymous Coward

Wow, didn't expect positive comment about info path

I hadn't paid any attention to it for along time.

It was such a horrid piece of junk for so long that I was really surprised to see positive comments.

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Coffee/keyboard

goodbye Visual Studio Tools for Applications

I looked at it in 2003 but frankly it was a stupid idea in 2003 & it's a stupid idea now.. if they'd put the effort into IE instead there would be no Google Chrome. Even in 2003 the HTML forms could do most of what InfoPath could do, and if you're going to go to the trouble of installing a desktop app, you might was well do a proper one.

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Re: goodbye Visual Studio Tools for Applications

If you use HTML forms your data entry minions might not need a full copy of Office running on a full copy of Windows with a few server CALS thrown in.

If they just enter data into a web page - they might as well go back to having IBM3270s on their desks.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: goodbye Visual Studio Tools for Applications

"if they'd put the effort into IE instead there would be no Google Chrome"

Not really a concern for Microsoft - IE doesn't directly drive much revenue. And IE still has about 4 times the number of users that Chrome does on the desktop:

http://www.netmarketshare.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=0&qpcustomd=0

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Coat

Good riddance.

During the few years that I was admin in a Winslows Server-driven shop, InfoPath/SharePoint were the major bears I had to, er, bear administering (I managed to talk the management out of continuing with Hyper-V after a catastrophic failure brought on by a "security" update...). There are far better solutions out there which are far more flexible and easier to administer...

Go ahead. Flame me. Mine's the asbestos-lined one...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good riddance.

No flames here mate. Sharepointless should be taken out back and shot as well, it's ruined what is a potentially good product for small to medium sized business - Office 365. It makes the simple task of shared documents between a few users overcomplicated and an unnecessarily difficult experience to explain to your average office joe. They really need to look at dropbox.

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Re: Good riddance.

Blimey, someone left you in charge even though you can't spell Windows and couldn't work out how to support Hyper-v with a reliable patch testing routine? Hopefully you've stopped giving our profession a bad name now and have moved on to some kind of open source position to help the Windows cause even more.

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Re: Good riddance.

If you'd care to read the manual perhaps you wouldn't call it sharepointless. It's not a web based file server but a document control and management solution. It needs setting up for your document flow and control and is designed around scenarios such as ISO27001 or project management at which it can excel if the person who implements it knows more about IT and business than just fixing servers.

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Re: Good riddance.

Pah - who needs drop box. We have a USB external harddrive that we just pass from desk-desk when we need to share files.

And the person who designed it claimed it was the only solution able to transfer 1Tb between users in under a second

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good riddance. @Crusty the clown

Most business are small business and don't need 21 CFR Part 11 compliance. Try getting out into the real world where people don't actually require something they are being sold. If you had used office 365 you would have discovered it is precisely being used and marketed as a web based file server under the guise of Skydrive Pro and Sharepoint sites.

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Re: Good riddance. @rm

Most businesses YOU deal with may not care, but then they are being advised by someone who doesn't seem to understand these things himself so hardly surprising. ISO27001 is the international standard for quality control, I suggest you look it up after your GCSEs are over because real companies do care quite deeply about these things.

Office 365 is not being marketed in that way at all. If you want what you describe then Skydrive is what is being sold while Sharepoint even in the cloud is designed as a content control solution. Your disappointment in the product is entirely down to the implementations you have used. As with most things in IT, if implemented properly you'll find it works as advertised and can deliver significant business benefit even to smaller organisations. In IT, sadly, things are rarely implemented properly since we have no real way to eject the less useful members of the profession until the BCS pull their fingers out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good riddance. @Crusty

You haven't a clue what you are talking about. ISO 9000/1 are the international QC/QM standards.

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Re: Good riddance. @Crusty

Sorry we have both and I chose the wrong one but well done on your Google-foo. I assume you're talking to me and just have some kind of dyslexia issue (or you're an asshole) because I couldn't see any users called Crusty who you'd be replying to.

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Boffin

Re: Good riddance. @Crusty

Hey Crusty, the only BCS you are in is the British Clown Society. Anyone who has done any project management or change control would know ISO9000/1 backwards. Me ? I worked in Pharmaceutical IT for 12 years or didn't you get the hint with 21 CFR part 11. My little finger knows more about secure document compliance systems and regulations than you ever will, now fuckety bye.

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Re: Good riddance. @Crusty

Or perhaps I'm just too busy to care about the details when posting on a news forum. I'm still baffled by your aggression and name calling though if you are the grown up professional you claim to be.

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft productization ©

Reminds me of most Microsoft product, take some core ingredients, mix-and-match in to new $PRODUCT and then think up a new name for it. Then do the same thing next year. Or in the case of InfoPath, split it into the creating-a-form product and fill-in-and-submit-the form product. I would have thought such utility would come as standard with the base server OS, as in a HTTP Server, a database and a scripting engine, with the development tools included as standard.

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Windows

Wrong tool for the wrong job...

The whole approach of InfoPath is in my opinion wrong. And considering how this can also be used in combination with SharePoint one could even extend this opinion to SharePoint itself, even though I do think the technology as a whole is pretty impressive.

Thing is; managers and such shouldn't be tasked with things such as data collection and design. Because you're basically doing a half baken job so to speak. For example; designing an entry form isn't as easy as designing (or using) a good database structure. You know; redundancy, relationships and such? All things a common manager will never have heard of.

If you're looking for an Office driven solution for data gathering then I think you're better of with building yourself a VBA ("Visual Basic for Applications") powered solution. Trust me; VBA is much more powerful and versatile than some people seem to think. And things such as connecting to a database, setting up a data entry form and then processing said data are pretty trivial tasks.

And if you want more (think of a SharePoint-like environment) then my tool of choice would be Visual Studio. Don't use some front-end program to try and build entry forms, simply opt to use <asp:TextBox> objects, perhaps with an <asp:RequiredFieldValidator> (allows you to check that a field has been filled out). Of course all of those elements do need to reside inside a <form> definition. So basically; build the website extension yourself. And if you're using Visual Studio you'll have direct access to an optional back-end SQL solution as well (it even plays nice when that back-end is a PostgreSQL solution, how cool is that?).

Those (VBA and ASP.NET) are in my opinion much better tools for data collection in a Microsoft based environment than InfoPath could ever be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong tool for the wrong job...

Clearly you have never worked in a SharePoint environment, so let me explain.

There are several levels of user-interaction. In its most basic form, the user (or a manger, if you will) can create lists and workflows using the browser. For each list, SharePoint generates a form.

Naturally there are limits to what you can do here, so if you want to add a little more pizazz, use SharePoint Designer (horrible) and InfoPath (meh). This will allow you to manage your workflows, and you can create rich forms to go along with it.

The third level is, as you say, Visual Studio. In addition you could always opt to buy a third party-solution as they are usually cheaper than hiring a developer, and most business scenarios are not all that different from each other, provided that they operate in the same field...

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So near yet so far

I will watch with considerable interest. Infopath + share point was conceptually so very near to something very important and general - an abstract model driven view of record capture and its surrounding work flow - yet in practicality so very far away from something that was usable. Microsoft's 'Meaning of Life' moment - you know the bit in 'The Very Big Corporation of America' board meeting just before the Crimson Permanent Assurance intrudes into the main feature? Just like that.

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Anonymous Coward

"customers can expect a sneak peek at the new tools at this year's SharePoint Conference, scheduled to take place in Las Vegas from March 3-6. "

SharePoint Conference? Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate .....

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Anonymous Coward

Congrats on the Dante quote. :)

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Headmaster

"SharePoint Conference? Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate ....."

...........La speranza eterna, hmm?

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Fruitcake of bozons

I have never ever heard before about InfoPath. IMHO the original idea was probobably to make yet another vendor lock-in in big businesses and collect license dividends for years to come. From screenshots and Spoogle I could see that it looks very much like a poor beta of FileMaker - yet another "database for folks" product.

I am pretty sure they will come up with some web based Kraken-coded Sharepoint Spin-off tool. And as it was said... simplicity of Dropbox makes it LOVED by users.

PS And one more thing. Expect more product deaths. Google started it. This can lead to innovation-through-extortion. I mean - it's cool that new ideas get implemented... but in the end it all boils down to # of licenses and cash streeeaaaaaaaaaam.

PS2 This comment has been written under an influence of a müsli bar.

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Headmaster

Re: Fruitcake of bozons

PS And one more thing. Expect more product deaths. Google started it. This can lead to innovation-through-extortion. I mean - it's cool that new ideas get implemented... but in the end it all boils down to # of licenses and cash streeeaaaaaaaaaam.

PPS This comment has been written under an influence of a müsli bar.

(post post script)

There, fixed that for you.

Note:

PS2 was a console.

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LDS
Silver badge

Cross device experience?

Try Office Remote... it's one of the most interesting apps I've seen. Being able to drive a PowerPoint presentation through my phone, while having slide previews and notes on the phone itself, and even a Bluetooth "laser" pointer is great. I can give a presentation using a wireless projector tethered to my tablet and drive it trough the phone while moving freely. That's a truly cross device experience - use each device the way it is most useful and make them play together.

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Anonymous Coward

Sigh yet more changes

Most of our stuff has just been migrated out of Lotus Notes, the majority of workflows ended up in InfoPath/Sharepoint hybrids. Great lot of money and time spent there then.

Anon because of obvious reasons

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I never quite got the point of InfoPath the fat client when you're connecting it to SharePoint, why not just use webforms in SharePoint? Their are probably valid reasons I just don't know what they are.

Also "so far only OneNote is available in a full-featured fondleslab edition" what about Lync mobile clients?

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Anonymous Coward

Not the same

You're thinking of InfoPath Filler, not InfoPath Designer. The first is used as a desktop app, the second will allow you to create forms that you can then either upload into SP or have others fill out using Filler.

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If you didn't like InfoPath and/or Sharepoint you are ...

not very smart or educated on those tools, or maybe just lazy. Good thing you don't work for me, because well you would NOT be working for me.

EXCELLENT tool! Astonishing what one could do with InfoPath with Sharepoint too. I will miss it, or maybe not, if I don't approve upgrading to whatever cr@p that microsoftie-inthe-head comes out with next. It will be worse, not 'better'. We all know it. I can say that because I was a developer with Microsoft on early versions of Excel and they still haven't closed that 'backdoor' I built in. <hint.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If you didn't like InfoPath and/or Sharepoint you are ...

I'd be curious about what they are going to replace it with. Seeing how very little difference there is between the 2010 and 2013 versions (if there are any), it seems obvious now that something wasn't going according to plan.

Maybe they will integrate a Form Manager into SharePoint 2013 ala the Design Manager for uploading new Designs. Certainly an online Form Builder using a jscript library would allow for the sort of dynamic forms that were impossible to build with InfoPath.

It has always been annoying when at a client who doesn't have the full fat Office and then trying to adjust a Form, so here's hoping the new incarnation will be an improvement.

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