Ascend the Slope of Enlightenment with the FORMulator
There’s very much a Dunning-Kruger-esque feel to conversations we have with prospects and partners around form conversion initiatives, particularly around InfoPath. The conversation usually starts with us asking “how many InfoPath forms do you have?”. Someone on the other side starts out very confidently with “not a lot, probably less than 25” then seeks affirmation from a colleague that starts going down the list of on-premises and online SharePoint instances they have, noting levels of confidence and uncertainty along the way as to which ones they’ve published InfoPath forms to. Add in any effort to qualify (t-shirt size) around form complexity and we quickly find ourselves deep in the Valley of Despair with someone in charge wondering aloud how they don’t know, and without that knowledge, how they’re supposed to go ask the organization to fund it.
So here I am gain, the CTO and Co-founder of a software company that needs to build a tool that will help folks quantify (easy) and qualify (hard) the problem our software wants to help them solve. With StoragePoint, it was more about countering the disbelief that we could in fact dramatically decrease their content database size and improve performance without breaking anything. There were also a lot of folks surprised about how many content databases they had and how big they were.
While there are parallels to be drawn with Kudzu, the real challenge with InfoPath remediation is there is nothing provided out of the box that can even give you a hint. With External/Remote BLOB Storage, you could at least go see how many content database you had and how big they were. With InfoPath, even if you could come up with a PowerShell script (not too hard) to find them all, report on when it was last filled out, and determine how many times it’s been filled out, that doesn’t tell you anything about the forms themselves. Is it straightforward with only a view or two, a couple dozen fields, and no repeaters? Or is it a Frakenform? That’s where the FORMulator (I know another 4-letter word, capitalized, and followed with ulator) comes in.
We’re going way beyond just scanning a site collection and reporting location and high-level usage metrics. We’re cracking the InfoPath templates open, running them through our pre-flight analytics API, and reporting back metrics that directly relate to a form’s complexity and portability.
Those metrics are combined to generate complexity ratings (Low, Medium, High) that are associated with effort estimates in the ROI Calculator. We also give it a score that indicates how much of the form would translate to a target platform, whether it be Power Apps, Nintex K2, or our own runtime embedded in SharePoint. And that portability score applies equally to manual efforts or automation-assisted workloads with a tool like Kudzu. You can read the welcome screen and get an idea of what will impact portability, but anyone that’s tried to take an InfoPath form and convert it to a Power App knows the pain. Repeating sections are going to take a lot of work to re-create, nested repeaters (sections or tables) are pretty much a non-starter…you can do it (we did) but the user experience is terrible, code behind is left behind or at a minimum needs to be refactored into MS Power Fx scripts, interactive rules (e.g. show/hide a section based on someone selecting this radio button or checking this box) largely don’t translate well, at least directly, and more.
As you can see from above, it brings back a lot of data, and you will find that it is very accurate at assessing a form’s complexity and portability. The FORMulator will also tell you how the InfoPath form was deployed – a Library, List, or Content Type.
Once you’ve taken in the data, you can flip over to the ROI calculator, play around with the assumptions, and at a minimum get a pretty good estimate on what it would take for you to manually convert the discovered forms on your own.
We’re obviously going to show you what you could save with Kudzu and give you a way to engage with us on the Next Steps tab. Additionally, we store the scan history, which you can go back and view or export the entire dataset and calculator to an Excel spreadsheet for sharing with interested stakeholders. The spreadsheet includes details, a sortable/filterable data table, the ROI Calculator, and the Scoring Summaries.
The FORMulator supports both on-premises and online implementations of SharePoint and, best of all, it is free to download and use without any obligation to purchase our software.
We’re confident that customers will see the value and contact us to learn more about Kudzu and how it can assist their ascent to the Plateau of Sustainability. At a minimum, we hope you find the tool valuable in helping you decide how to move forward with your InfoPath remediation project(s).
You can learn more about the FORMulator at https://formulator.kudzusoftware.com
The tool is FREE and will be available for download soon! If you just can’t wait shoot an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can probably get you a pre-release copy.