I’m sitting here playing with InfoPath – and let me say – this rocks my world. Some people say “So what? Its just another forms tool!” or “Access could do that 10 years ago” or “why would I want to use InfoPath when I can build my forms in ASP.NET” – all very valid points. But InfoPath has its place.
Right now, many organizations use Excel and Word to fill out all types of reports, from Status Reports, to PO’s, to Sales Reports, etc. All of this, of course, could be online using web forms. However, this doesn’t work for many who only fill these forms out when on the plan or sitting on their deck drinking coffee in the morning. What’s more is that the underlying data for these Excel/Word based forms aren’t truly and immediately consumable – ie – they aren’t natively XML (and yes, I know you can write scripts to convert it into XML).
InfoPath is natively XML. It has optional sections, the ability to dynamically add rows and sections to your form, the ability to perform calculations, display graphs, communicate with back end databases or web services, implement business rules, and reside in a pure xml file stored in SharePoint or submitted to BizTalk.
InfoPath is Happiness.
Really, its functionality isn’t that new – and yes, you can do everything InfoPath provides today with different sets of technology – I completely agree. But I’m finding InfoPath very nice to work with – and my results seem to fit into a nicely decoupled infrastructure.