So, I’ve been hanging out a bit in the SharePoint subreddit and I was asked what companies do if they need custom forms and cannot do custom development.
The normal answer would be to use InfoPath, but let’s face it, even with a very sympathetic sales rep, you’re still looking at thousands of dollars in license fees alone, not to mention that you’d still need to develop, test, and maintain those forms.
There are some third party alternatives like Nintex Forms, but it is still going to be thousands of dollars worth of licenses. The free and open-source alternatives I’ve seen haven’t impressed me so far.
I’ve made it a goal for 2013 to get developers to think more about the user experience of their solutions. The default user experience, especially when working with form data, leaves a lot to be desired, which is probably why InfoPath was so popular.
Your Wet Dream Come True!
The method used in SPInvoice, though, isn’t complicated even if the results are stunning. In fact, give me a few minutes of your time to show you this video, and you’ll see what I mean.
All of the techniques shown here rely on SharePoint Designer and a bit of know-how only; no custom development, no external dependencies, no programming required (unless you count copy-pasting some jQuery code programming).
For any PDF form, for example, or Word, or other applications that produce forms, you should be able to convert those forms into HTML using their respective applications and then tweak the HTML code to make it work with this method.
In fact, I’ll claim that with a bit of HTML5 know-how, you could easily replace a lot of the InfoPath functionality, and have the benefit of saving thousands of dollars and be able to put your forms on the public web if you so desire, even on a completely separate web server running your favorite brand of OS. With that, you can add nifty jQuery UI features or other web frameworks to your heart’s content. No longer are you limited by what the damned SharePoint Designer Design View can or cannot do.
No stupid App framework to get in your way either… You can host your forms anywhere, set up SPServices to connect to your SharePoint backend, and viola, you have separated your web front end from the limitations of SharePoint.
Who said you couldn’t do SharePoint 2007 development on Linux?
Here’s the video, feel very free to post comments, questions, and so on below.
Oh, and here’s the sample code, but I must stress that this code is far from optimal so use it to learn, not in production.
Found this article valuable? Want to show your appreciation? Here are some options:
a) Click on the banners anywhere on the site to visit my blog's sponsors. They are all hand-picked and are selected based on providing great products and services to the SharePoint community.
b) Donate Bitcoins! I love Bitcoins, and you can donate if you'd like by clicking the button below.
c) Spread the word! Below, you should find links to sharing this article on your favorite social media sites. I'm an attention junkie, so sharing is caring in my book!