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Do you already work modern? (Part 4 of 5).

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Posted by Matthias Walter - 11 August, 2020

In this blog post series we will talk about the modern working style and possibilities on the Microsoft 365 platform and how skybow perfectly incorporates to leverage it the most.

Part 1: Templates and Solution Studio
Part 2: The skybow Digital Process
Part 3: My home-office tasks in a modern world
Part 4: Modern Forms
Part 5: coming soon 

Forms are and have always been a hot topic. The input and maintenance of data is a central part of almost every business. In today's world, where not everyone works in the same office and you cannot put your completed form on the desk for the manager to sign or quickly call your colleague to close the Excel document that you can start to edit it, digital forms are indispensable.

It should also be possible to enter or read something in a list while on the road, e.g. in public transport. The input should be as fast and uncomplicated as possible, because I do not have time to plough through a huge form when I only have to fill out a small part of it. Only the essential information should be displayed and if possible the form should make suggestions. For an easier evaluation afterwards, the form should also be validated, and I should be made aware of incorrect entries.

With SharePoint, Microsoft offers a great opportunity for many years now. Quickly creating a new list and adding typed columns is child's play. However, the input masks could always only be extended via InfoPath. InfoPath was a powerful tool and was used quite often. Microsoft discontinued InfoPath in 2026 and has not yet provided an equivalent alternative.

A quick note about remote access to lists in the on-premises environment; in the past, this was usually only possible in a very complicated way via a VPN access, which had to be set up on the client and/or mobile, so that encrypted access to the data could be ensured. However, many companies did not set up this access so that it could no longer be accessed outside the office. With today's multi-factor authentication options (e.g. SMS or Token App) this has become much easier.

Whether you still have "old" InfoPath forms that need to be replaced or you want to digitize your forms and processes, skybow has the right tool for you. One product for all – whether on SharePoint Server 2019 or SharePoint Online, our Modern Forms add-in can be used everywhere and embed seamlessly into your SharePoint lists. The installation can be done in 6 steps within minutes and with the automatically activated 30-day trial license you can start right away. A Getting Started Guide can be found here: Modern Forms Add-In - Getting started

Contact dossier

Fields, tabs etc. wrap automatically on a smaller screen (-> right picture below on a mobile)
skybow Forms are responsive and mobile by default and only one version needs to be maintained. This version adapts to the device with which it is opened. Contact dossier on a mobile

I would like to briefly address 5 central challenges, which many of you probably already had.

  1. Form logic
    Fields or entire areas should not be visible or editable depending on their status. Fields such as a person field or a lookup field should have an initial value or be calculated. The entered email address or phone number should be validated according to a defined format. A reason must be given if a request is rejected, i.e. a dynamic mandatory field.
    We address all these topics with our no-code/low-code Expression Language, which can be "clicked together" with placeholders

  2. Dynamically filtered lookup fields (cascading lookups)
    The classic here is the selection of a country, which automatically filters another selection field "Region" based on the country. Or a category with corresponding subcategories
    With our lookup field filter, this can be done with a few clicks

    Cascading lookup
  3. Cross site collection lookup
    In the past, people often worked with subsites in a site collection to create a corresponding structure in SharePoint and then linked individual lists via certain detours. With the latest recommendation from Microsoft to work with a flat architecture (1 level), i.e. not to create any more subsites, this is no longer possible and I don't want to put all my lists in the same site.
    The skybow Modern Forms contain a worldwide unique Cross Site Collection Lookup field, which allows to select items from another site collection, e.g. from a central contact list, so that it does not have to be maintained multiple times.

  4. Master-detail sublists
    Forms can contain lists that contain several associated elements. As an example, the monthly expense request has one line per receipt with corresponding metadata such as for what, when and how much it cost.
    This classic master-detail (or one-to-many) relation is called a "dossier" at skybow and is mapped via standard sublists. For logical representation, these can also be structured in tabs. A document library can also be used as a sublist if you want to add several documents to an item without using the standard attachments, which are not versioned and cannot be found properly in the search.
    Sublists can be added on all forms (NewForm, EditForm & DisplayForm)

    Expenses sublists
  5. Perform actions
    After adding or modifying a list items/documents, an email notification should be sent or a request should be accepted or rejected with a single click.
    The list of possible actions that can be performed in a form is of course much longer. For all these requirements our forms can be extended with actions. These can be executed either by pressing a button or when opening the form. For most cases no additional (work)flow is necessary and can be delivered directly as part of the form.

Command Actions - Approval

skybow Action Builder

If you are wondering why I haven't mentioned Microsoft PowerApps until now, it has to do with the fact that PowerApps cannot be used on SharePoint Server. I recommend to take a look at skybow Modern Forms and be inspired by the possibilities and the simplicity. Besides the fact that our Modern Forms also run on SharePoint Server 2019, they are fully responsive, offer the unique cross site collection lookup and include actions without the need to use another tool like Power Automate (which is also not available for SharePoint Server).

If you are still using a SharePoint 2013 or 2016 environment, you can always take a look at our award winning Rich Forms for the classic UI. This offers the same business logic and action options.

If I have caught your interest with this article, please book a demo here:

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Topics: Infopath, SharePoint Online, Modern Forms, SharePoint 2019


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