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We are looking for a solution to be able to let users design forms and deploy them as webforms. SharePoint and InfoPath does indeed look interesting but I have been struggling with some limitation that have started me to question if it actually is worth spending time with InfoPath.

Basically what I need is to be able to let user create a form that will send the content as an email and deploy it as a webform. This is possible within SharePoint if you do some workarounds (auto saves the forms as a unique name) but the problem is that the users should not need to know have to do this workarounds.

How are you finding InfoPath with SharePoint? Are you using it? Are you letting the users create their own forms?

Some other questions I have regarding SharePoint and InfoPath: Is it possible to easily connect a form to an database in order to be able to generate reports based on the inputs, and still deploy the form as a webform within SharePoint?

Do you know any other solutions that may be interesting instead of InfoPath and SharePoint? I have heard that Adobe should have something that I am going to look into but I would be happy if you could give me other tips for good solutions to do all this.

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4 Answers 4

Well this is really an open ended disucssion. But there are several relevant questions that should be asked first.

  1. What version of sharepoint.

  2. What is the skill level of the end users who are creating the for s?

What is your scalability plans.

If you just plan on emailing the data than an info path form works great if the form user can understand infopath(which isn't hard) if they ae looking for a completely web based solution look at sites like Wufoo.com or one of the othrs. The real answer is how far do they want to scale this as I mentioned there are dozens of options.

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Maybe I have missed something but when I deploy an InfoPath to SharePoint, I can't send the form in an easy way. The only way I have managed to do it is to remove the toolbar and create a button that will save the form in the list and then send it. Which is pretty easy for me to do, but too hard for a normal user to do. –  Anonymous May 17 '10 at 11:09
    
We are currently using SharePoint 2007 so we do already have license and everything the only problem is that InfoPath feels pretty limited. The users skill level is to be able to use Microsoft Office effectively. We need to have all data stored on over own servers and we can not save our data on an external provider. –  Anonymous May 17 '10 at 11:13

I am actually at that point in our pilot as well.

I need an easy form service for users to create forms and the preferably to submit to a SharePoint list the data in the form. I am attempting to use InfoPath but after reading some tutorials and finding out that you have to write custom code...well that is not very user friendly.

Wufoo for creating forms is nice, but like the other user stated, we cannot have our data exist outside of our organization.

I could use the default list form; but even that is not always very user friendly because then users need to know how to create custom columns and such, how to hide elements in initial submit form.

What have others done to make it easy for end users?

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I think InfoPath is probably the best forms designer/automation platform available, especially when teamed with SharePoint. With that said, it can be a bit schizophrenic.

I believe that it was designed and targeted to Information Workers (non-techies) and there fore you can quickly create a lot of forms without programming. There are limitations to this though, and more complex solutions will require custom code either within the form, or in the form of Web Services that the forms can call. This is where I typically see things go awry. At this point, either the Info Worker isn't technical enough to do it, or the technical person looks at it and says they would rather just work in a full blown custom app environment like ASP.NET. I think InfoPath has its place in the toolkit. I think it does many things very well, but it is not a replacement for a robust application.

If you want your end users to create the forms I think it is possible, but they will probably have to be pretty simple forms, and there will need to be training to show them how to publish them to SharePoint and how to handle the naming, etc.

It has been awhile since I have looked at Adobe's eForms, but I didn't see a clear advantage and I think you loose the advantage that the integration with SharePoint brings.

For reporting you either need a way to connect to the SharePoint library from your reporting environment or you will need to submit a copy of your data to a web service that can save it in an external database. This would require development, and not something an end user can be expected to do.

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I certainly don't think that InfoPath is an "everyman" solution. There are parts of it that are decidedly for "power users" only. As for the programming, I think that if a user can edit formulae in Excel, then they can probably do "programming" in InfoPath. Knowing how to connect to SharePoint to read and submit may take some training time.

Personally, InfoPath annoys me. I'm far more productive with a custom web part but I'm a programmer.

My own recommendation to my internal solutions team is to keep it simple with InfoPath, though at present we aren't providing InfoPath to our end users.

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