InfoPath–Features and Licencing

It is a common question from clients:  Do I need an enterprise licence to use InfoPath?

The simple answer is “Yes” in most cases, however, it depends on the functionality that you want to use.  And there are alternatives that do not require Enterprise licencing.

This exploration of the the features and licencing of InfoPath is based on the fact that SharePoint is hosting the form templates.

InfoPath Interaction and Licencing

Users can complete forms using InfoPath using a component of the Office suite called InfoPath Filler or via SharePoint.

The way that these two technologies work has a direct implication on the licencing requirements of SharePoint:

Form template type Technology to complete form SharePoint licence requirements
SharePoint list Web browser or InfoPath Filler Enterprise
SharePoint form library Web browser Enterprise
InfoPath Filler

Standard

SharePoint workflow Web browser Standard

 

The need for the Enterprise licence when using the web browser to complete forms from a form library is based on the requirement of the Info Form Services feature.  If the forms are not opened via the web browser and opened using InfoPath Filler then an Enterprise licence is not required.

Customisation Options

SharePoint lists come with forms that are built as .aspx pages with content generated from the list definition.  While these forms are sufficient in many scenarios, they are have insufficient capabilities in many other scenarios.  In order to improve the capabilities on offer, there are two options:

  1. SharePoint Designer
  2. InfoPath

SharePoint Designer

If SharePoint Designer is used, then the .aspx files can be edited or new files created.  In SharePoint 2010 this allows a no-code capability for making limited changes to existing forms or creating new forms, in SharePoint 2013, SharePoint Designer is without the preview view which limits the capabilities of a no-code capability as the markup of the .aspx pages needs to be edited directly.

InfoPath

Creating InfoPath forms requires an Enterprise licence but provides a far more easy to use interface to customise the forms used to enter and view list data.

Functionality

The functionality that is available in InfoPath varies, depending on the tools used to complete the form as InfoPath forms can be completed in the context of SharePoint Workflow, as a web form or using InfoPath Quick Filler.

When it comes to functionality, a key point to take into account is where the data will be stored:

List Form
  • Data stored in the list that the form is associated with
  • Each control on the form is bound to a column in the list
Form Library
  • Data is stored in an XML file in the form library
  • Data can be submitted t different locations, e.g. multiple lists

 

The storage of the data results in some different capabilities with regards to the interaction with a form:

  .aspx Form List Form Form Library
Different forms for new, edit and display Yes Not necessarily Not necessarily
Repeating, nested data No No Yes
Digitally signed No No Yes
Custom code Client and Server No Server
Complex schemas No No Yes
Print capability No No Yes
Submit drafts No No Yes
CSS Support Yes No No
Bulk editing Yes Yes Only promoted values
Multiple data sources Yes – within list or code based Yes Yes
Managed meta data Yes No No
External data Yes – code based Yes Yes
Cascading drop-downs (without code) No Yes Yes
Multiple views No Yes Yes
Validation Javascript Built in Built in

 

Conclusion

Although an Enterprise licence is needed in order to use InfoPath, there are many benefits that can be derived from the use of InfoPath, however it is not a silver bullet and there are some distinct situation where the use of InfoPath would not be beneficial:

  • When bulk editing is a requirement – consider the restriction of data that is not promoted not being eligible for bulk editing
  • When CSS and client-side code is required – An .aspx form may be more suitable

With the deprecation of InfoPath from SharePoint, there is a longevity question for solutions that are built using InfoPath.  Microsoft have not yet provided guidance on an alternative technology that has the same level of functionality that InfoPath provides, however there are some alternative products available such as Nintex.

Nintex forms offers a variety of features that overlap with the InfoPath functionality, but importantly, an Enterprise licence is not required,

 

References

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/infopath/archive/2010/04/22/comparing-list-and-form-library-forms.aspx

http://aleemsheikh.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/comparison-between-aspx-forms-infopath-list-forms-and-infopath-documents-in-sharepoint-2010/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.