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Ignite 2016 - SharePoint Forms and Workflows

Brad Schlintz Brad Schlintz  |  
Oct 05, 2016
 
Last week Microsoft had their annual IT Pro conference, Microsoft Ignite, which unveiled a lot of innovations in the Microsoft technology space. In the SharePoint world, we received a much anticipated update on the future of Forms and Workflow.

 Ignite2016_SPForms_1.png
 

Forms – PowerApps

This has been an ongoing discussion since Microsoft announced the deprecation of InfoPath back in 2014. Luckily with Microsoft’s recent announcement of PowerApps, we now have a soon-to-be full featured solution for building custom forms going forward. It is important to note that PowerApps isn’t exclusively a SharePoint technology. Instead it is a standalone platform that provides us a way to integrate many SaaS offerings including Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, Dropbox, OneDrive, Office 365 and many others. Forms created via PowerApps can be designed for phone, tablet and desktop viewing alike. This technology is currently in Preview with an aggressive backlog of exciting features coming down the pipe. PowerApps are expected to be generally available in Q4 of 2016. Check out some screenshots of PowerApps in-action below.

Ignite2016_SPForms_3.jpg
Basic PowerApp on a Mobile Device
    
Ignite2016_SPForms_4.jpg
PowerApps Designer - Windows Store App


Workflows – Flow 

Have you noticed that SharePoint Designer hasn't received much love since SharePoint 2013? In fact, just like InfoPath, there won’t be any new versions of SharePoint Designer released going forward. For those of you who rely on SharePoint Designer workflows to automate your business processes, this may be unsettling. The good news is that Microsoft has addressed this gap with Microsoft Flow. Flow is the new out-of-the-box workflow platform for SharePoint that's built on top of Azure Logic Apps. Flow is a browser-based editor for automating simple to complex business processes that interact with many SaaS services, including Office 365 and SharePoint Online. The capabilities of Flow far outweigh anything we’ve been able to do with SharePoint workflows in the past. Flow is expected to be generally available in Q4 of 2016. Check out some Flow screenshots below.

Ignite2016_SPForms_5.jpg
Example HR Onboarding Workflow

 

What about my on-premises SharePoint?

Microsoft hasn't forgot about you! PowerApps and Flow, along with Power BI and Azure Logic Apps, all support connecting to data residing in your on-premises environments using gateways. PowerApps Data Gateway and Flow Data Gateway integrate with your on-premises data by providing a secure connection without poking any inbound holes in your firewall. This technology works by installing a Windows service on your SharePoint server which then polls the PowerApps or Flow cloud endpoints and will respond to requests for interacting with your data.
 

Summary

Microsoft is making huge investments into PowerApps and Flow and are rapidly adding new features and functionality as requested by the growing community. The new Microsoft is open and receptive to feedback, so don’t be shy to ask for a feature that may not yet exist or function the way you need it to!  

We would love to help you modernize your business processes using Microsoft Flow and PowerApps.

 
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