Microsoft Shelves Next-Gen Forms for SharePoint 2016
Microsoft's next-generation forms technologies for SharePoint Server 2016 and SharePoint Online seem to have hit a stall, if not a dead end.
In January of last year, Microsoft indicated that it planned to phase out InfoPath, which was one way to create updatable forms for use over the Web or within an intranet. The company stated that its InfoPath 2013 client and InfoPath Forms Services for SharePoint Server were being deprecated as it developed new technologies.
Now, one of those new technologies, known as "Forms on SharePoint Lists," has been relegated to "cancelled" status on the Office 365 roadmap page. Microsoft MVP and SharePoint expert Vlad Catrinescu noticed the change today in a blog post. Catrinescu has been eagle-eyed in the past in spotting obscure SharePoint product deprecations by Microsoft.
Besides the roadmap mention, Microsoft hinted at the change by adding a note to its Jan. 31, 2014 blog post. The note states that while Microsoft still plans to remove InfoPath from its SharePoint Server and SharePoint Online products, customers can still expect their forms to work in Microsoft's next-generation SharePoint products and services:
As part of the update shared around the Evolution of SharePoint and the next SharePoint Server on-premises release, we are also updating the timelines for removal of InfoPath Forms Services components of SharePoint and SharePoint Online. Specifically, InfoPath Forms Services will be included in the next on-premises release of SharePoint Server 2016, as well as being fully supported in Office 365 until further notice. Customers will be able to confidently migrate to SharePoint Server 2016 knowing that their InfoPath forms will continue to work in their on-premises environments, as well as in Office 365.
The InfoPath 2013 application remains the last version to be released and will work with SharePoint Server 2016.
InfoPath 2013, the main tool for building forms in the next SharePoint, will be around for another eight years. Microsoft is committed to supporting the InfoPath 2013 client and InfoPath Forms Services for SharePoint Server 2013 until April 2023, per its product lifecycle support policy.
Microsoft also has something called "InfoPath Forms Services in Office 365," which the company plans to continue to support "until further notice." Microsoft's Online Services product lifecycle support policy, though, just specifies giving a one-year advance notice for any "disruptive" changes to its online services.
During a session at Microsoft's March SharePoint Conference, Greg Lindhorst, a principal program manager lead at Microsoft, had suggested that the next new InfoPath technologies would appear around the end of 2015. Catrinescu speculated that the new InfoPath just wasn't going to be ready in time for the release of SharePoint Server 2016, so it got cancelled. Microsoft recently indicated that it is planning to rollout its next SharePoint Server product in the second half of this year.
These changes mean that the old InfoPath will be sticking around for a while. "InfoPath is now back from the dead and will probably be the only way to customize Forms on SharePoint Lists in SharePoint 2016," Catrinescu wrote.
While InfoPath will stick around, it apparently wasn't loved too much. Microsoft MVP Tobias Zimmergren explained last year that forms could be created using "free form plug-ins from the Web," rather than licensing InfoPath. "It [InfoPath] wasn't very widely adopted in any organization I've ever worked with," Zimmergren wrote.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.