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InfoPath...

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  • User profile image
    gmiley

    I recently began playing with InfoPath and I must say that I really like it. One gigantic fault that it has however, is that the forms it produces can only be viewed by users with InfoPath installed. It seems to me that this is product suicide. Does MS have any plans to release a stand-alone viewer for these forms? (Similar to Acrobat for PDFs)

    If a stand-alone viewer is not released I do not see this product making it very far despite how powerful and flexable it is.

  • User profile image
    ktegels

    gmiley wrote:
    I recently began playing with InfoPath and I must say that I really like it. One gigantic fault that it has however, is that the forms it produces can only be viewed by users with InfoPath installed. It seems to me that this is product suicide. Does MS have any plans to release a stand-alone viewer for these forms? (Similar to Acrobat for PDFs)

    If a stand-alone viewer is not released I do not see this product making it very far despite how powerful and flexable it is.


    You're not the only one to raise this concern.

    The immediate answer seems to be "no." The product will evolve.

    I suppose if you take the view that you could just throw some programming time and an XSLT or two at it, you could write your own.

    For now, InfoPath seems okay as is. I'm eager to see how MS works with XForms in the future.

  • User profile image
    Manip

    I thought this is what VB(6) was designed to do? I mean this is just a RAD but at an even higher level (less power). I would pick both PHP and or VB over this solution in any company.

    A stand-alone viewer.. hmm they could have IE support it, wouldn't be a stretch.

  • User profile image
    gmiley

    Manip wrote:
    A stand-alone viewer.. hmm they could have IE support it, wouldn't be a stretch.


    This is along the lines of what I was thinking of, maybe even a plug-in so that all browsers could take advantage of it... though, that might be unlikely. I think a stand-alone app with browser plug-ins would do the job. If that came into being I could see InfoPath as good competition for PDFs in the active form market.

  • User profile image
    Sabot

    InfoPath has the potential to fill a rather nasty little whole in the product line-up. let me explain ...

    My company suffers an issue that I dare say many other companies also suffer from ... users that are very bright and are "tool-maxing".

    Tool-Maxing is when users are taking a tool such as Excel and Access to the very limit and sometimes beyond what it was really design or intended to do. Hooray for the tool, you might say? but all to often these Excel spreadsheets and Access databases become business critical. So when the person who built the spreadsheet or database gets run over by a bus, or wants to leave to go to Australia, panic ensues, a business bigwig calls in I.T. and pulls rank and I.T. have to take over the support of the spreadsheet or database asap. I.T. are left with a tool that was built at the level of 'script kiddie' with VBA code like Spaghetti (I have even seen users use labels as line numbers, so Goto statements will work!!!) and guess what sucker??? ... it's your baby now!

    How familiar is that scenario?

    Often users have only wanted a clever form, they didn't really want to dive into any VBA. This for me is what InfoPath is for. When users want to write a clever form. InfoPath has a clear boundery, it can't do much because if it did, that would be I.T's job to provide it.

    I'm going to start a new Thread called "VBA Horror Stories! Tell us about the sin ..."

    I will watch InfoPath's future progress with interest.

  • User profile image
    teknologikl

    You might want to check out Jon Udell's recent blog post, "Customer demand for a ubiquitous InfoPath runtime,"

    http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2004/04/06.html#a967

    For some additional insight.

  • User profile image
    Peter

    I agree,

    without a free client allowing form completion it just doesn't make sense for most scenarios.

  • User profile image
    Shawn

    I found Infopath to be one of the neatest things that Microsoft has come up with lately (though they may have just bought it from someone for all I know).  I was really bummed to find to out that the Corp versions of Office 2k3 came with InfoPath but my personal copy of Office 2k3 Professional Edition did not. Sad

    I can't see why anyone would want InfoPath to be interoperable with Adobe Acrobat.  Either IE or Word would seem to be a better choice instead.

  • User profile image
    Jaz

    2 bits i was reading, one i think from scobles blog which he said that the infopath team said that customers weren't asking for a seperate viewer so they weren't gonna do anything about it.  hmm seems to be they have ear plugs in if that is the case

    and another from longhornblogs.com asking if xaml could be the end of Infopath.

  • User profile image
    IceFreak2000

    DiegoV wrote:
    Regarding Jon Udell's article, I think Microsoft is stuck in a tramp.


    Dear God, things aren't that bad are they? Wink

  • User profile image
    divega

    I think InfoPath really has a brilliant future. I can easily see it as the universal forms engine that should replace Access, Excel, Word and custom applications on a wide array of scenarios inside and outside organizations. It has the potential to fill most of the void left behind by Visual Basic when it stoped being a real RAD tool. It is the ideal weapon for tool-maxers as Sabot said.

    The problem is, as you stated, that once you have all your forms in InfoPath, you realize that they don’t scale to a wide audience because there is no free runtime.

    Microsoft thinks that it is enough to foster InfoPath as a solution for the intranet and tell you to write ASP.NET pages for everything else. I also think this is a mistake. Well, maybe it will still make sense for some time from a revenue stand point, but I think not for long.

    If I were responsible for InfoPath at Microsoft I would be asking myself these questions:

    1. What proportion of Office System 2003 sales is really being driven by InfoPath? Can we see a trend?

    2. To what point is the lack of a freely distributable runtime jeopardizing the attractiveness of InfoPath?

    3. What are the reasons not to adopt a royalty free distribution model a la Access Runtime for Visual Studio Tools for Office owners?

    On the implementation side, I agree a client runtime would not hurt for disconnected or seldom connected scenarios. But for many others that would just add another piece of code to deploy. I believe Microsoft should better build something like a server runtime capable of loading InfoPath forms as ASP.NET pages. Of course, for whatever rich functionality that cannot be mimicked by standard HTML, such server runtime should degrade as gracefully as possible.

    Regarding Jon Udell's article, I think Microsoft is stuck in a tramp trap. They actually don’t see market demand for this. Demand does not exist because customers that would otherwise adopt InfoPath don’t do it precisely because such runtimes do not exist.

    We have many times heard that since InfoPath builds on XML standards and scripts it would be “reasonably easy” to create such a runtime. The problem is whenever we hear that, we know it means Microsoft is not committing to build it.

  • User profile image
    divega

    IceFreak2000 wrote:
    Dear God, things aren't that bad are they? Wink


    The problem is my lack of competence with the English language. I edited the original message to correct the mistake.

    Anyway, let me try to repharse that paragraph to reflect my current frame of mind:

    Regarding Jon Udell's article, I think Microsoft could be fooling itself to think there is no demand for this. Current InfoPath customers may not need it, but there is a considerable population that would adopt InfoPath if such features existed.
     
    Jaz wrote:
    hmm seems to be they have ear plugs in if that is the case

    Actually, I like this way to say it better.

    And yes, maybe it is a little bit too arrogant to think that Microsoft has no clue on what to do with InfoPath, but they have failed in the past, haven't they? Wink We all have.

  • User profile image
    divega

    DiegoV wrote:

    We have many times heard that since InfoPath builds on XML standards and scripts it would be “reasonably easy” to create such a runtime. The problem is whenever we hear that, we know it means Microsoft is not committing to build it.



    Recently, someone reading my blog pointed me to InfoView, which is the ASP.NET based runtime for InfoPath I thought didn't exist. So far, the demos look impressive, but I haven't dug deep.

  • User profile image
    gmiley

    Thanks, I'll take a look at that. Still it wouldn't allow Joe Schmoe to use Form_00001 on his PC at home without first being online then being at that site.

  • User profile image
    clint_hill

    Sabot wrote:
    My company suffers an issue that I dare say many other companies also suffer from ... users that are very bright and are "tool-maxing".

    Tool-Maxing is when users are taking a tool such as Excel and Access to the very limit and sometimes beyond what it was really design or intended to do.


    I have always wanted a word for that. Thank you. May I use it?

  • User profile image
    eagle

    InfoPath 1.1 will be in managed code to assist  those of us with ideas of developing for the Tablet PC.

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