LAS VEGAS — There was a funeral at Microsoft’s SharePoint Conference here. A small band of community activists evoked images of the Great Plague of London (or of “Monty Python’s Holy Grail”) by toting a coffin around the exhibit hall floor while crying “Bring Out Your Dead.”
The not-quite-dead “old man” that the procession tried to throw into the cart was InfoPath, which Microsoft announced before the conference that it was discontinuing.
To help users deal with their pain, and to recall the good times they’ve had with InfoPath, funeral organizer Joel Oleson said he came up with the idea because it was something he had done while working at Microsoft when a product was discontinued (they use the term “end of life,” which makes the funeral appropriate). Members of the product team would reminisce about the features they contributed, or the unique use cases they had heard of, and they would work through their feelings.
But fear not, InfoPath users: It’s not going away tomorrow. While Microsoft will cease to update it, it will continue to work—and work well—for years to come, with the company continuing to support its installed base through April 2023.
In a session here, Microsoft said the venerable Access software is in the mix for the future of forms, and there are other alternatives.
So, the message is, if you’re using InfoPath, you can continue to do so for about the next decade without worry.
But if you’re new to SharePoint, you might not want to base your forms and important workflows on degraded technology. I found this list of alternatives to InfoPath. I don’t use them so I won’t recommend them, but I did meet with Nintex and K2, as well as a company called PDF Share Forms LLC, here at the conference, and they have solid, enterprise-ready solutions.