Microsoft PowerApps as a replacement for InfoPath
After the release of Microsoft PowerApps, many Office365 subscribers are thinking that Microsoft PowerApps is designated as replacement of InfoPath.
Microsoft PowerApps provides many features that are available in InfoPath and enables enterprise users to create, collaborate, communicate and manage mobile apps without having developer skills.
PowerApps can also be easily integrated with any other services of the Office365 ecosystem. From this perspective, Microsoft PowerApps can be hyped as the successor of InfoPath.
However, Microsoft PowerApps has some limitations that make it unsuitable to replace InfoPath. Even, Microsoft doesn’t support to replace InfoPath Forms with PowerApps.
Power Apps supports creating an app from the data stored in the lists. PowerApps is considered as a successor for custom forms and it is based on an open source version of the software called Apache Cordova powered by resources from Azure app Service.
PowerApps allows to easily create and share apps from the existing data sets and no coding is necessary. These data sets include Cloud-stored Excel files, SharePoint Lists and SQL Azure tables.
Below we'll be going over the benefits of using PowerApps as well as challenges of using Microsoft Flow.
The Pros Of PowerApps
- A desktop client is available to design InfoPath Forms that will be supported by 2026 by Microsoft. Whereas, PowerApps studio is a desktop client that is being used to create apps quickly without custom code. PowerApps studio can be installed on Windows or other platforms. Also, it can be used to create Apps for the web with some limitation.
- InfoPath 2013 allows to design templates for Mobile devices that can be displayed and filled out on a mobile device browser. However, PowerApps allows to create native mobile apps that can be installed on mobile and tablet devices.
- PowerApps is the designated replacement for InfoPath for scenarios like custom forms on SharePoint lists.
- One of the biggest things with InfoPath was the ability to show and hide columns based on rules in the form. PowerApps allows you to add logic to your controls within your forms so you can not only show/hide, but you can also change colors, disabled/enabled, spacing, etc. It’s not the same controls as InfoPath, but PowerApps has been working on their logic within forms to make it easier.
- Microsoft has extended support for InfoPath 2013 for three extra years, to 2026. So there’s no urgent rush to find a replacement. But InfoPath is a deprecated product, so it will continue to age without any new features.
The Cons of Microsoft Flow
- If you need to share forms and data with customers, vendors, partners and other people outside the organization, PowerApps will not meet the needs the way InfoPath does.
- PowerApps is an Azure-based service that is only available to members of the Microsoft organization. There is no way for external users to use the PowerApps forms that is created. Also users and contributors need permissions to any data connections and gateways that a shared app uses. Some permissions come along implicitly with the app, but others must be explicitly granted.
- PowerApps assumes a constant internet connection and provides no built-in ability to work offline. Mobile users cannot open a form while offline, nor submit data to be synced later when online. Data queried online is not cached for use offline. While Microsoft recently took its first baby-steps toward supporting some level of offline functionality.
- If you have business processes built around the structured XML files generated by InfoPath, then PowerApps will not meet your needs. Microsoft is clear in its guidance that you should continue to use InfoPath for XML scenarios.
- Printing from PowerApps is not on Microsoft’s roadmap, although it is one of the top feature requests on the PowerApps feedback site. It’s possible some sort of printing ‘in the moment’ will be added as a feature someday. However, because there is no underlying document as there is in InfoPath, it is unlikely that PowerApps forms will ever support electronic archiving, PDF, or any ability to re-open a form later to print it.
- PowerApps is a cloud-based tool, so we would need to have AD connected into Office 365 to assign licenses and use PowerApps. After users have a license to use PowerApps, they can install an “On-Prem Gateway” on your SharePoint Server and then register it to your Office 365 tenant. You can then use that gateway to access all your information in SharePoint like you normally would in PowerApps.
- Can InfoPath forms be migrated to PowerApps? No, custom InfoPath forms would have to be remade in PowerApps. It sounds daunting, but with PowerApps’ new tools, you can transform your basic InfoPath form into an efficient PowerApp to streamline your processes.
Power Apps is a product of Azure, not SharePoint. It has close ties to Dynamics 365. So PowerApps was invented as a Windows application to design mobile apps that consume Azure services. The idea that it will also be used as a browser-based interface to modern SharePoint lists has been a later development.
Sure, creating power app easy for anyone to create one. With the ability to connect to numerous data sources and custom API’s, this opens up a lot of ways for users to get themselves into a quagmire if they are not prescient about planning at the start.
Microsoft enable embedding PowerApps directly into SharePoint page, so that it can be viewed as a part of SharePoint page.
PowerApps is truly the future of building custom forms and then making them available on the mobile devices for the organization.
If you need additional assistance with PowerApps or just want to learn more about SharePoint, contact us by filling out the form below.