SharePoint 2010 Comparison of Forms


When it comes to data entry forms in SharePoint, there are three out of the box options available, Aspx forms (default option in lists), InfoPath List forms, and InfoPath documents. The first two are interchangeable with some effort, but switching from the first two to InfoPath documents and visa versa is not possible. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right approach in the beginning of a project. Here’s the  of these three technologies.
Basics
ASPX forms InfoPath List Forms InfoPath Documents 
Separate forms for display, edit and new items. Forms simply work on whatever data is in the list. Single form works for all operations. Like aspx forms, this form works on whatever data is in the list. Each list/data item is a document itself. Documents can be configured to promote fields to library columns
Form cannot be printed Form cannot be printed Form CAN BE printed
Data cannot be saved as draft Data cannot be saved as draft Document can be saved as draft
Coding Support
ASPX forms InfoPath List Forms InfoPath Documents 
Client and server side code support No client or server side code support Only server side code support, it uses XMLHttp in order to avoid full page postbacks during data entry.
Form Design
ASPX forms InfoPath List Forms InfoPath Documents
CSS can be applied No CSS support No CSS support
Data
ASPX forms InfoPath List Forms InfoPath Documents 
Data can be changed or imported into the list in bulk Data can be changed or imported into the list in bulk Only existing data in promoted fields can be modified. Records cannot be added or deleted in bulk.
Multiple data sources are not supported unless they are in the form of lookup columns or used in client or server side code Multiple data sources can be used Multiple data sources can be used
Managed Meta data can be mapped to fields Can NOT use Managed Meta data Can NOT use Managed Meta data
Can use external data through client or server side code Can consume simple SOAP and REST based services and can have connections to databases and XML files Can consume simple SOAP and REST based services and can have connections to databases and XML files
Form Functionality, Validation, Workflow
ASPX forms InfoPath List Forms InfoPath Documents 
No built in support for cascading drop downs, this functionality is achieved using JavaScript Cascading drop downs can be created without code Cascading drop downs can be created without code
No repeating or nested data support No repeating or nested data support Repeating and nested data support, but cannot be promoted to separate columns or lists
Multiple views of data cannot be created Multiple view of data CAN BE created and switched based on rules Multiple view of data CAN BE created and switched based on rules
Multiple web part can be added to the form, inline editing of records possible Data can be shown from multiple data sources, but can’t be changed Data can be shown from multiple data sources, but can’t be changed
JavaScript for all the rules and client side validation Rule engine does it all Rule engine does it all
SPD based list and reusable workflows and VS based custom workflows can be created and attached SPD based list and reusable workflows and VS based custom workflows can be created and attached SPD based list and reusable workflows and VS based custom workflows can be created and attached. Only promoted fields can be used in SPD based workflows.
Key Benefits
ASPX forms InfoPath List Forms InfoPath Documents 
Maximum control on the form Very easy to develop and very little testing is required Easy to develop and relatively less testing is required
JavaScript/JQuery and Server side code support Can be developed with minimum time and effort Server side code support
CSS Support InfoPath Views, Rules and facial features are supported All InfoPath features like Views, Rules, facial features and printing are supported
Data in the list can be edited, imported and exported in bulk Data in the list can be edited, imported and exported in bulk Repeating and nesting data support
Multiple web parts can be used on a form to view or modify items from different lists on a single form
Drawbacks
ASPX forms InfoPath List Forms InfoPath Documents 
Increased development and testing time No Coding support No client side coding support, limited server side code ability
Can run in Sandbox
Deciding the right technology for Enterprise 

InfoPath form library should be the first consideration for all kind of applications. They provide additional functionality compared to custom list InfoPath forms, such as;

  • Repeating tables and complex schema
  • Printing views
  • Better deployment and change support
  • Managed code support
  • Forms can be digitally signed

There are few situations where list based InfoPath forms suite;

  •  System needs to be built upon existing data and it’s not feasible for all that data to be entered through the forms
  • Bulk data import and edit is required throughout the life of the system
  • None of the above mentioned additional capabilities of InfoPath is required

ASPX list forms should be used only when

  •  JavaScript support is a must
  • CSS support is required
  • SharePoint Managed Meta Data must be used in forms
       
Categories: Web Development

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