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InfoPath Filler Questions... RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello.  I was wondering if someone knew whether InfoPath Filler was available separate from Designer?  I would like to make InfoPath Forms available to my users, but I won't be using Browser Based Forms.

    You might say, I am looking for an Adobe Reader-type approach to my forms...  Like, deploying Filler as a free reader to my users...

    Thanks,

    Gene.

    Thursday, August 5, 2010 7:50 PM

Answers

  • Hi Gene,

    There are no plans to offer the InfoPath Filler as a free standalone.  InfoPath is required to fill out InfoPath forms.


    Regards, Aaron Suoja - Microsoft Online Community Support
    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 6:28 PM

All replies

  • Unfortunately, no.  We hoped for this when SharePoint 2003 was released.  When 2007 was released, it was rumored that it may happen, but it did not.  Then when 2010 was released, we all got our hopes up because we saw two separate icons for InfoPath Filler and InfoPath Designer.  Every time I give a presentation on InfoPath or introduce InfoPath to a client, the topic comes up.  I'm hoping (as you probably are) that Microsoft will eventually offer this.  InfoPath is cost-prohibitive to many organizations.

    The ideal solution would be for Microsoft to charge a larger sum for the InfoPath Designer, then make InfoPath Filler available to everyone for free.  This would go a long way toward putting the best forms tool in the hands of portal users every where.  Microsoft would dominate Adobe in the forms space and SharePoint's footprint would grow at a faster pace than it is already.

    Come on, Microsoft.  Provide the InfoPath Form Filler for free!


    Rob Wilson - MCT. MCTS, MCITP SharePoint. http://sharepointblog.kellerschroeder.com http://www.therobman.com/blog
    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 1:10 AM

  • > Come on, Microsoft.  Provide the InfoPath Form Filler for free!

     

        Ditto!


    Mike Smith TechTrainingNotes.blogspot.com
    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 1:32 AM
  • I agree - I have loads of clients that would go for this with the form filler for free! It means that they can easily put the solution together for external clients.

     

     

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 4:43 PM
  • Hi Gene,

    There are no plans to offer the InfoPath Filler as a free standalone.  InfoPath is required to fill out InfoPath forms.


    Regards, Aaron Suoja - Microsoft Online Community Support
    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 6:28 PM
  • Boy that would be something to have filler for free!  Let's go MS your customers would eat this up.
    Monday, September 13, 2010 8:43 PM
  • Hello,

     

    I am working for the Directorate of Informatics, European Commission and indeed there is a need for easy-to-draft, easy-to-disseminate form generation tool for collecting information here. We are using home-made web application which works indeed but introducing changes is a real pain.

    I was looking for a solution and InfoPath sounded as excellent option.  But to my opinion it is unaffordable to buy/install the whole package for filling a single form. Especially when the contributor is random person we don't know in advance.

     

    Best regards

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010 9:39 AM
  • InfoPath may still be your best solution. If you have the Enterprise Edition of SharePoint you then have InfoPath Forms Services.  Forms Services eliminates the need for an InfoPath client as it converts the forms to HTML and JavaScript with "most" of the InfoPath feature set. All your users then need is a browser.

     


    Mike Smith TechTrainingNotes.blogspot.com
    Tuesday, October 12, 2010 4:32 PM
  • It would definitely push Sharepoint adoption faster. I'm fighting against a Adobe PDF adoption in the large entreprise.  I agree, let's the filler be free, but change an arm and a leg for the designer if you have to.

    Large companies don't understand the value of infopath and pay a premium for it vs having PDF that is a "standard".  The only way to bust through is if MS let the filler go for free so all users get it.

    Sunday, January 30, 2011 1:35 AM
  • Ben, it's not a premium for the InfoPath client.  It's part of the Office Suite, and it's very common for large enterprises to have a version of Office that includes InfoPath without even specifically planning to use InfoPath.  The Adobe PDF Reader is not equivalent to the InfoPath filler.  Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, etc., don't have a free reader either - it's no different.
    SharePoint Architect || Microsoft MVP || My Blog
    Planet Technologies || SharePoint Task Force
    Sunday, January 30, 2011 1:47 AM
  • Some companies may have it without planning to use it.  Others would love to have it an can't afford it. Office Professional retails at $499 USD (according to http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/buy/office-2010-pricing-information-HA101810737.aspx).  If you want the suite that has InfoPath (Professional Plus) or if you want to purchase InfoPath standalone, you must "see your account representative for pricing information" as it is only available through volume licensing.  I think Ben is justified in saying that is paying a premium for it.

    Let's compare it to the Adobe suites: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/matrix.html

    Starting at Adobe Standard and up, you can create fillable forms that can be filled out and saved by the free Adobe reader.  The data can be exported to a spreadsheet by the originator. That is nowhere near the power that you get from InfoPath and SharePoint -- you have to have the Live Cycle server for that, right?

    One obvious reason that Microsoft cannot offer a free filler is because the InfoPath forms are saved as XML. Any number of applications could transform that data and load it into core business systems for collection and analysis. It is optimized for use with SharePoint, but not required. The only way this would be feasible would be to charge more for the InfoPath designer. I would venture to say that customers would be willing to pay MUCH more for the template designer if they could allow their employees, partners and customers to fill out the forms for free.

    So it's a tough situation. Perhaps Microsoft feels it cannot offer the InfoPath Filler for free without shooting itself in the foot. Folks have got to eat, right? At the same time, Microsoft could seriously grow its install base if it came up with a good compromise. From looking at the Adobe link above and at their forums, there is a fair amount of integration between Adobe forms and SharePoint.  

    A simple SWOT analysis may look like this: 

    Strengths

    Weaknesses

    • Premier forms tool
    • User friendly
    • Customization and validation via powerful controls, rules, and code-behind
    • Tight integration with SharePoint and other Microsoft products
    • Works with numerous data sources
    • Open XML data format
    • Considered pricy by many
    • Adobe's free reader[/"filler"] is widely distributed -- in the enterprise and at home

     

    Opportunities

    Threats

    [ This is for the Microsoft InfoPath Team to figure out ]

    • Tighter Adobe Acrobat integration with SharePoint

     

    As for me, I'm a huge fan of InfoPath. If one of my customers has the InfoPath desktop client available or SharePoint Enterprise, it is my first choice for forms automation and even light application development. But I have also worked with dozens of clients for whom it was the obvious choice, but they could not justify the price tag.


    Rob Wilson - MCT. MCTS, MCITP, MCPD SharePoint. http://sharepointblog.kellerschroeder.com http://www.therobman.com/blog
    Sunday, January 30, 2011 5:15 AM
  • I can't agree that just because the price isn't listed, it means the price is at a premium.  If we had specific price differences, then perhaps we could quibble over the definition of "premium."  It's a subjective argument up to a point.  Even so, way back in Tech Preview for Office 2010, I installed the new products and found that there was a Filler AND a Designer in my Programs.  I got really excited and immediately went to the MS Connect newsgroups where we were providing bugs/feedback/reports and asked the product team if this meant we now had a "free" equivalent to Adobe, but they quickly said there was not one and that there was no plan for one.  That was disappointing to me and to many others, I'm sure, but it is what it is.  When I argue that it's not necessarily at a premium, I am not saying I disagree with the concept of a free Filler.  I actually very much wish we could do that, because a LOT of my business revolves around implementing codeless solutions where the limitations rise 10X if I can only use browser forms (in 2007 deployments at least).  However, even with a free Filler, there is no version of InfoPath that works on Macs, so that makes it useless for many of my clients anyway.  The Filler would need to not only become free but also become compatible with the Mac platform.  There seems to be no plan for adding InfoPath to Office for Mac either, which I don't understand, but that is one topic that was not open for discussion when I inquired.

    My main objection is that people seem to completely forget that there is no "free" version of any other Office product, and just because we use the Designer to "design" templates and the Filler to fill them out, it's still really no different than all the other Office products that don't have free versions except for the Visio Viewer.  We didn't get Office Web Apps until Office 2010, and they are only included with the Enterprise version of SharePoint 2010, but I think people forget that when talking about the InfoPath filler needing to be free.  I wish it WAS, but I can see why it isn't.


    SharePoint Architect || Microsoft MVP || My Blog
    Planet Technologies || SharePoint Task Force
    Sunday, January 30, 2011 6:03 AM
  • I think you and I are on the same page here. Based on your comments here and discussions we've had in the past, I think we also share similar challenges and concerns. I agree with your primary objection about the other Office products. And for what it's worth, I define a premium as anything charged over and above the standard price...even though it typically includes added value.  The added value comes "at a premium."

    The first time I faced an InfoPath objection from a SharePoint customer was in 2005. Six years later I am still facing them regularly. I have little confidence that anything will be done about it, but I decided to post the above anyway because it is what I see. I believe Microsoft has an opportunity with InfoPath that it has not yet tapped. By not taking action, in my opinion, Microsoft is positioning InfoPath as an enterprise-level product. Do I feel it is worth the price? Usually (but it is not my money). Does Microsoft have the right to charge for it? Absolutely.  But countless loyal-to-Microsoft, small, medium, AND large companies who run their businesses on the Windows Platform running Office software say they cannot afford the additional cost.

    There's an opportunity for somebody if not Microsoft. I had hoped that Office 365 would be the opportunity, but according to this article: http://www.computerworlduk.com/in-depth/applications/3245218/a-guide-to-office-365-versions-and-pricing/ only the high-end subscription will include InfoPath.  Only time will tell.  Until then, I use InfoPath when I can, and use alternatives when I must.


    Rob Wilson - MCT. MCTS, MCITP, MCPD SharePoint. http://sharepointblog.kellerschroeder.com http://www.therobman.com/blog
    Sunday, January 30, 2011 7:04 AM
  • There's an opportunity for somebody if not Microsoft

    Well, one company I work with quite a bit has built an alternative to Forms Services that can be used online on a subscription basis for people who can't afford or don't want SharePoint 2007/2010 Enterprise.  It also has a "store" with form templates and template parts that have been published by the company and/or other developers - some for a price and some for free.  It's not live yet, but I've seen it, and they are serious about it being a big-time alternative.  No, it doesn't give anyone a free InfoPath client, but it removes the need for a client altogether without having to resort to SharePoint Enterprise.  Even though my entire business is centered around Microsoft, I will surely become a top contributor/user/seller of that product, because it will make my clients successful in some cases.  For those cases, I must be prepared and ready to provide that alternative:

    Qdabra FormsBoard


    SharePoint Architect || Microsoft MVP || My Blog
    Planet Technologies || SharePoint Task Force
    Sunday, January 30, 2011 8:02 AM
  • Hi,

    At least make the filler part of Office Standard and leave the designer in Office Pro?

    Best regards

    Friday, May 20, 2011 4:55 PM

  • My main objection is that people seem to completely forget that there is no "free" version of any other Office product

    Ah, so the Access runtime (http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=10910) doesn't exist, that link does not say  "You do not need to buy any special product in order to redistribute the Access 2010 Runtime. You can freely redistribute it or point users to this download." 

    I think the Access runtime sets a bit of a precedent here, Microsoft should strongly consider releasing an infopath runtime to permit users not licensed for a full version of office to fill out forms.  
    • Edited by francyci Friday, October 28, 2011 10:22 PM
    Friday, October 28, 2011 10:20 PM
  • Hi, finally I have found the clarification about InfoPath Filler licensing here. I hoped, as many others, that the Filler will be distributed for free or at least with the cheapest office licenses. I'm a software guy working with quite big telecoms and some time ago have been recommending InfoPath as the solution for offline forms, but it has been rejected because of pricing.

    Compared to Adobe's tools InfoPath is simply GREAT. It's fast, powerful, responsive, unbloated, beautifully looking and easy to use. Adobe's LiveCycle forms is very very bad, offers horrible user experience, is slow, complicated, difficult to use and buggy. The same with the Reader. But it's free and everyone has it - this is the key decision point, the quality is not important at that stage.

    My customer is a GSM network company. They wanted to provide fillable forms to all their subcontractors responsible for network infrastructure maintenance. This meant thousands of potential users that would be sending various of types of forms by email. Unfortunately, it was impossible to provide InfoPath to all of them because they are small/individual contractors and they didn't want to buy Office Professional just to be able to send a form. So Adobe PDF was chosen with some additional Excel forms (Excel was allowed because it's cheap and popular and everyone has office standard/home version)

    I think this was a lose-lose decisions. Users are unhappy with Adobe's forms, the IT is unhappy because of many problems with these tools (example: it's difficult to automatically update form definitions) and Microsoft is unhappy because it gets no money. I'm unhappy too because as a developer I like to provide good quality and good user experience. IMHO Microsoft would benefit a lot if they added the Filler to basic Office versions.

    RG

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011 10:55 AM
  • Ben, it's not a premium for the InfoPath client.  It's part of the Office Suite, and it's very common for large enterprises to have a version of Office that includes InfoPath without even specifically planning to use InfoPath.  The Adobe PDF Reader is not equivalent to the InfoPath filler.  Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, etc., don't have a free reader either - it's no different.
    SharePoint Architect || Microsoft MVP || My Blog
    Planet Technologies || SharePoint Task Force

    Actually they do.

    Visio 2010 viewer: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=21701

    Powerpoint 2010 viewer: http://blogs.office.com/b/microsoft-powerpoint/archive/2010/05/13/powerpoint-viewer-available-for-download.aspx

    Word 2007 viewer: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=4

    Excel 2007 viewer: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=10

    Never mind that there plenty of free apps that can even edit some of these to some extent, Open Office and Google docs come to mind.

    What free viewer (fillers) or 3rd party apps support infopath forms? None. FAIL and switch to Acrobat.

     

    Friday, December 16, 2011 10:40 PM
  • I discovered this thread in researching the InfoPath filler licensing question for a client/student. I know it's old, but it's an excellent one - many good points made by all.

     

    RE: Adobe Reader as a Form Filler

    To Larry Smith, in particular, but everyone in general... this is an important consideration:

    Granted, my knowledge of the specifics is somewhat limited, but I learned a few months ago from a client that was being audited by Adobe Licensing that there is a bit of a "gotcha" that needs to be explored by anyone who creates forms in Acrobat. In general terms, it goes something like this:

    As a user of Acrobat (Standard or above), you create a form from an existing PDF, choose the option that allows Reader users to save form data, and distribute your form (including posting on a web site). However, technically you are supposed to have some sort of enterprise level licensing for Live Cycle to have more than a fairly small number of users fill out that form, or pay for each form filled out after a certain quantity. The worst part is, it's a feature that is easily used without any warning of this, other than to review the EULA with a fine-toothed comb.

    I think this page is on the topic, but I'm not 100% sure: http://www.securityfocus.com/archive/1/313613 If anyone has more details on this situation, I would love to have it, or links to it.

     

    RE: Making InfoPath Filler more available

    Rob Wilson, Ben Exec Tech and Clayton Cobb - Nice SWOT, Rob! I agree that it would be a smart move for Microsoft (before someone else - Qdabra?) to make the InfoPath Filler available as a stand-alone of some kind (good idea on a runtime, francyci) - it doesn't have to be free, although that would be nice. At the very least, it should definitely be included in any business edition of Microsoft Office, as mcsjohn said. Many businesses can't afford to have Office Professional Plus (the only edition to include InfoPath) or just to add InfoPath for all their users - that's a big price difference (aka "premium"), even with volume licensing. It could definitely help to increase the adoption rate of InfoPath forms and data, certainly within the business environment, especially with the broadening of the potential market with Office 365. But right now, the general answer to "how to do forms" that most people come up with is Acrobat and PDF. And as

    Rafal Gwizdala pointed out, many are unhappy with it but feel that's the "best" choice.

     

    RE: InfoPath Forms Services

    Mike Smith, does this enable the organization to make the form available on external-facing SharePoint sites as well? If so, then there is at least that option for those that have that need, if they can make that large of an investment in Enterprise SharePoint Server.

     

    RE: Etc.

    I do love the way they made two items on the Programs for Designer and Filler - it makes much more sense to the end user even if it's not really two separate programs.

    Also, Larry Smith, thanks for posting what I was thinking about the viewers for Office files. And of course, now we have Office Web Apps that are essentially free - not just for enterprise, but to anyone with an Office Live account. No free product will provide the full power of the Office applications, but for simple creating and editing, they will do.

     

    Regards,
    -Sharon

    Friday, January 27, 2012 4:27 AM
  • Those are viewers, not fillers.  Are you saying you can edit documents with those viewers?  Their product descriptions do not indicate such.
    SharePoint Architect || Microsoft MVP || My Blog
    Planet Technologies || SharePoint Task Force
    Friday, January 27, 2012 4:48 AM
  • Acrobat and PDF forms

    The biggest complaint for many years was the fact that PDF forms could not be filled out and saved when using the free Adobe Reader without forking over a lot of money to enable the forms so someone with the Adobe Reader could fill the form out and save it. Then along came Acrobat 9 which with the professional version you could reader enable a form with a bit of limitation. The limitation being 500 users. So if I was sending the form to say 200 users then I could reader enable the form quickly for nothing extra. If I were to send the form to 500+ users then I need to purchase a reader extension licence which could amount to $15,000 per form just so more than 500 users can use the form. The EULA is very complicated to understand.

    Acrobat forms can be created on both Windows and Mac versions of Acrobat Professional or Standard (There is no Standard version of Acrobat X).

    Adobe LiveCycle Designer which comes bundled with Acrobat Professional and is a Window only application. Forms created in LiveCycle Designer are essentially xml forms in a PDF wrapper. It is a complex program to work with and a bit cumbersome. In order to get the best out of LiveCycle forms you need the LiveCycle Forms server at quite an additional cost.

    Acrobat PDF forms can be viewed and filled out with the free Adobe Reader including some third party readers. In order to save a filled out form in Adobe Reader the form must be reader enabled. It seems several of the third party readers will let users fill out a form and save it without it being reader enabled.

    LiveCycle Designer forms can only filled out and saved in Adobe Reader. They don't work with third pary PDF readers.

    A lot of funtionality that it seems can be done without programing in InfoPath must be programmed in LiveCycle Designer which means you need to have people who know how to do that kind of thing to maintain the form.

    InfoPath

    I have been working with InfoPath 2010 for about a month now and am liking it more and more. I was wanting to send my performance summary for last year to my manager as an InfoPath form instead of the clunky Word version that is being passed around but then realized that he uses a Mac. There would be no problem if he was on Windows because the company used Office and SharePoint and therefore would have the filler installed. I supposed I could set up a web version of the form but at this point it is not work the hassle trying to get it to work for him.

    A free version of the filler? YES. YES. YES. All of the comments concerning how much a free Filler would do to promote the use of InfoPath I agree with.

    A version of the filler for Mac. Certainly YES.

    Since the main purpose of forms is to collect data and not simply to look pretty (a hard concept for many of the people I work with who are obsessed with pretty print based forms) InfoPath seems like a great solution for collecting data and pushing it to a database, SharePoint etc. without haveing to extract the data manually.

    • Edited by Summerman Wednesday, February 8, 2012 5:10 PM
    Wednesday, February 8, 2012 4:25 PM
  • I beg to differ Clayton. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Visio all have free readers.

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/downloads/office-online-file-converters-and-viewers-HA001044981.aspx

    I don't understand why Infopath is any different.

    Monday, May 21, 2012 1:50 PM
  • > RE: InfoPath Forms Services

    Mike Smith, does this enable the organization to make the form available on external-facing SharePoint sites as well? If so, then there is at least that option for those that have that need, if they can make that large of an investment in Enterprise SharePoint Server.

    Yes. (as far as I know and with the disclaimer I often get from Microsoft folks: "I'm not a licensing person.")

    Also consider using Office 365 / SharePoint Online, E3 subscription and above.

    But.... (there's always one) I don't think you will be able to use the InfoPath Forms Services with library forms with anonymous users. But... (and this is a good one) Clayton Cobb has a blog on using InfoPath to create custom list forms to do most of what you may need with InfoPath: http://claytoncobb.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/infopath-allowing-anonymous-users-to-submit-forms-in-sharepoint-2010/


    Mike Smith TechTrainingNotes.blogspot.com

    Monday, May 21, 2012 6:32 PM
  • Hello Microsoft!  Why isn't InfoPath Filler free yet?  Can't you realize that you're losing revenue by NOT making it free? 
    Thursday, May 31, 2012 4:43 PM
  • Clayton,

    Update on the miracle product you spoke about. No Sharepoint, but... You will still need infopath to use the forms. This is a glorified distribute on a file share process. 

    From their website:

    Pricing

    • Server license: $14,995 - includes FormsBoard hosting engine and one year of support plus help with installation
    • Qdabra cloud subscription: free and monthly plans, pay as you go based on number of users. Click here for more info, or here to sign up today
    • Note: InfoPath 2003, 2007, or 2010 Filler required to edit forms
    Friday, June 1, 2012 9:49 PM
  • I agree with this - think this would be a good compromise. Think only offering it with Office Pro is just being greedy and frankly Microsoft cutting off their nose to spite their face. Most people have a least home or standard office and by making the filler widely available you'd ensure much better take up of it over Adobe Acrobat.

    Companies have to ensure that ALL users can fill in forms and until Infopath filler is as widely available as Adobe reader it wont compete, even though it is a much better product.  Its no good saying that you dont need the filler - a lot of the more powerful features are only available with the user of the filler over browser forms, otherwise why does it exist?

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012 9:07 AM
  • Which is exactly why I'm still using Adobe.
    Wednesday, August 15, 2012 6:14 PM
  • Micorsoft pusssy cleaner and pussy saver product 
    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 1:43 PM
  • All rubbish product from Microsoft shit company none of them working find and stabale. too much bug and too many service pack (bags) . ass whole developer they have

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 1:44 PM
  • Adobe Reader can be used for filling without charges directly. It also supports, through FDF toolkit, an API to read/write an XML file that can be used to carry the PDF form contents without embedding the form on the original PDF.

    You can also open the FDF file instead of the PDF one as long as your FDF references an URL for the original PDF file to fill/be filled.

    However, it's a complete SHIT, limited to 3 kind of fields, without ANY SCHEMA. 

    We're getting crazy making this work.

    I think that MS should at least provide InfoPath license for the filler if not for free at all. It's order of magnitude better than Adobe counterpart, too IMHO.

    Having web (without Sharepoint) and multi-device support will be a GREAT plus. 

    Come on MS!


    Adriano

    Friday, October 12, 2012 10:04 AM
  • I have just recently come across a service which allows you to fill out PDF forms online without having to download any software. I was able to print out my document and even fax it online. Please check this website http://goo.gl/KqtKhD

    I'm sure you will definitely find the service useful and easy to use.

    Friday, August 23, 2013 4:46 AM