Ultimate Forms Versus PowerApps Plus Flow
Out with InfoPath and SharePoint Designer and in with Flow and PowerApps. That much is clear. But life in SharePoint is never so simple!
SharePoint Power Users want to stay on top of new tools coming from Microsoft. Of course that means we need to learn the new functionality being provided. For those who are brand new it can be confusing knowing where to begin.
I've had the benefit of being able to use both Infowise Ultimate Forms as well as Microsoft's new development platforms Flow and PowerApps. Recently, I've been hearing the question how these tools fit into overall solutions development in SharePoint.
In some cases, there is a tendency to think that organizations should use only Flow and PowerApps to build SharePoint Solutions and disregard other tools. Or they might go the opposite direction and use just 3rd party tools. This is a very limiting strategy!
To build the best SharePoint Solutions you need both Microsoft tools and additional capabilities brought by Ultimate Forms. Together these comprise a comprehensive toolset that gives you the ability to build complete full featured SharePoint Solutions.
My overall philosophy in SharePoint is to be open to multiple tools and capabilities. We all should strive to take advantage of whichever tools are available to us from Microsoft and increase our abilities through the use of additional software.
Choosing to use PowerApps and Flow isn't exclusive to the use of other tools. Instead using Infowise Ultimate Forms can work as the perfect complement to these platforms to help you to build comprehensive solutions.
I have worked extensively in PowerApps in the last couple of years to build a mobile forms solutions for a customer that also uses Infowise. I really enjoyed ramping up on this platform and learning how to combine PowerApps with Infowise Forms and Actions.
Here is a quick example of the symbiotic relationship that you can set up:
I made a checkbox in the PowerApps form "Email PDF". I connected this to a simple Yes/No field in the SharePoint list. Using Infowise, I was able to develop a polished print template with signature that was generated using Infowise Actions. When an employee taps the checkbox on the mobile phone, a PDF with signature is generated by Infowise and automatically emailed to the customer! Needless to say, there is no way to pull this off with just Flow and PowerApps.
My overall experience with PowerApps taught me that it is a rich platform with many capabilities that is best suited to a slow and methodical building process. It is especially suited to building a mobile interface for tablets and phones. You will find that there is a substantial amount of time used in building forms with this platform. It is by no means a platform for building forms quickly with no code! That is where Infowise Ultimate Forms is best suited.
It should also be noted that a "one size fits all" approach doesn't work with PowerApps. When you set up your forms in PowerApps, you can make them look great for mobile devices or great for desktop users, but not both at the same time. Fields and buttons have to be made much bigger for mobile. A form built for a mobile device therefore looks silly to a desktop user. (The form components looks giant on the desktop.) Therefore you have to build two versions of the forms - one for the desktop audience and one for the mobile audience.
With the Infowise Tools at my disposal, my preference is to take this approach:
I start by building out the core solution in SharePoint for the in the office users leaning heavily on Infowise Ultimate Forms. This makes up the core of the overall solution. Once your core solution is working reliably, I can then move on to building the Mobile Interface for on the go users with PowerApps. Note that you can open Infowise forms on a mobile device, but the PowerApps platform gives you the ability to more precisely control the user experience using this platform. There is quite a lot of customization I can do with PowerApps to create the perfect tailored experience for the mobile users.
That brings us to Flow. Flow provides the abilities to set triggers and drive automation in your business solutions. Like PowerApps, there is a learning curve and it be challenging to do everything that you want. Infowise Actions can work side by side with any Flows that you set up. The ideal approach is to try to take advantage of both since they can be set up to work in the same solutions. In general, I have found that I can do nearly everything that I ever could with classic SharePoint Workflow by using the comprehensive set of actions offered by Infowise Ultimate Forms.
Infowise is focused on covering all of the SharePoint related automation whereas Flow is best suited for connecting outside of your SharePoint environment. In any case, you can decide for yourself which way you want to trigger automation and use both toolsets in combination to provide maximum flexibility.
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