My Wishlist for the upcoming version of InfoPath Forms Services

Since the first version of “InfoPath Forms Services” that was shipped with MOSS 2007, many vendors and Implementers started to use it heavily in their implementations specially in the eForms case. However i have been using InfoPath for the past three years in almost every implementation, and I’m looking forward to see some improved/new feature set on the vNext of SharePoint Server, which i am including some of them on the wishlist below. This list of features has been compiled from my own work with InfoPath Forms Services and SharePoint 2010 over the past years:


SOAP 1.2 Support Currently the InfoPath is only supporting SOAP version 1.1 which requires some efforts and sometimes middleware solutions to make the existing web services compatible with SOAP 1.1
Better Mapper Binding the schema fields of the template with those of the external data connections is time consuming specially when dealing with large and multiple schemas.Having a tool as BizTalk mapper would make it more convenient:
biztalkmapper

Better XSLT Support

As InfoPath is generating XSLT views inside the templates, adding advanced XSLT capability features inside InfoPath Designer will increase the possibilities of creating richer solutions and features.

Richer, usable Rules and Actions Engine

Rules turn into a big headache and it become unmanageable when having large number of them inside the form, specially with complex eForms scenarios, I really wish to see easier, more usable and manageable Rules engine editor similar to the BizTalk one: BizTalkRulesEgine

Or even more fancy editor such as the Microsoft Access 2010 Actions Catalog and Actions Editor:
image

JavaScript support in browser-compatible forms

It’s really painful to inject JavaScript within the rendered InfoPath forms, supporting JavaScript will increase the potential of InfoPath solutions and scenarios.

InfoPath Client Side Object Model

Considering Client Side Object Model protocol in InfoPath specifications will make the previous feature doable and will increase opportunities of integration with other client side technologies.

Silverlight Support in browser-compatible forms.

InfoPath extensibility controlling is impossible right now due to some limitations by design, and I understand how hard it is to build XML-Based browser-compatible forms. but, in many many cases, customers will ask about Charts and extra controls which makes it really hard to convince them to use it with the current limitations of InfoPath forms, supporting client side technologies – such as Silverlight -  will give InfoPath unlimited possibilities of being a first class Forms technology.

Multilanguage User Interface (MUI) aware Forms

nowadays, Localizing InfoPath is resources consuming, that would be better in terms of time and effort to have OTTB codeless features in vNext.

Native support for Versioning and TFS

currently, the TFS is supported in InfoPath but, with no direct commands inside, such as Check-In/Check-Out etc.., supporting TFS directly from inside InfoPath will make developers/designers life easier.

InfoPath Packaging and Automatic Deployment Packaging and automatic deployment support for InfoPath is really weak right now, it’s doable, but not as easy as other SharePoint artifacts.

Document Conversion

Supporting document conversion from InfoPath to DOCX OTTB would be a great hit. hopefully, such a thing will be seen in the upcoming releases.
JSON Data Connection Support

Thanks for supporting REST and OData feeds, but supporting JSON will be a useful feature too.

Controls Grouping

I also wish to select a set of controls, and change some of the common properties all at once without the need to select them one by one as I do now.

Form Loaded Rule I needed this feature in one of my projects, when I was working on a complex forms scenario, the form load actions was retrieving a lot of data from different sources, which made the form loading very slow. Adding this rule would increase the speed and enhance the performance at the forms first load.
Async and Lazy Actions

Supporting asynchronous action execution as well would enhance the performance in certain situations, so that a user doesn’t have to wait for all actions to be finished first.

Timer Actions Imagine the possibility of defining a set of actions to be executed after a specific time-interval, such as refreshing some critical lines of business data asynchronously!
Exceptions Handling and logging capabilities

I really wish to have this feature, specially when I am facing some connectivity issues with external data sources such as web services, I cannot handle the exceptions in these cases without a lot of workarounds and bunch of rules!
Adding the following features will help developers a lot:

1- Event log action, or another exception logging capability.

2-Adding the “If exception occurs” expressions (such as data connection error or Time out error)

Supporting Actions and rules flow history When dealing with a form with large number of rules and actions, debugging and tracing logical and non-logical errors is very hard and waste of time, adding a history for rules execution will help in debugging rules and actions execution flow.

I will be updating this list frequently, please feel free to comment and suggest any new feature.

4 Responses to My Wishlist for the upcoming version of InfoPath Forms Services

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  2. morad says:

    thanx

  3. John Liu says:

    Love this list! I want to add:

    A better layout system – the table layout is OK, but once you start merging and splitting cells a bit, the table becomes increasingly impossible to fix.

    Again, with old forms, after a number of copy and paste, the elements have multiple levels of wrappers applying useless styles. Wish there are better ways to detect and remove them.

    Would love to have actions that can add / remove repeating sections. The default buttons suck and Remove repeating section is extremely un-intuitive to use.

    No way to “close” the form in code behind for a browser form. You can only close form from the Close Form rule.

    Design checker should warn of unused resources, or missing resources.

  4. I totally agree with you John, the layout system sucks when it come to copy & paste, and the indea of adding/removing sections using actions is really awesome!

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