InfoPath Forms 101: Codeless = Less Cost - Patrick Halstead

InfoPath Dev

Patrick Halstead

InfoPath Forms 101: Codeless = Less Cost

Pie in the Sky?

InfoPath is the best forms editor on the market today because it lets you create rich forms with structured data without having to rely on a developer to code features. Business process owners can quickly prototype and publish forms with no dependency on developers or IT staff to deploy the forms. Less code means less cost to you both in up front development work and long-term maintenance work. You quickly create a form and when changes are needed, you can do them yourself. Well, that was InfoPath's promise at least...

Profitability Trumps the Best of Intentions

When I led a team of developers on the InfoPath 2003 team, we used to go around saying that 75% of all forms would not require code. We had the best intentions and truly wanted to believe in that ideal, but the reality was that version 1.0 of InfoPath (2003 SP1) got it backwards – 75% of all forms needed code for simple things like sorting tables, getting user name or checking to see if the form was new, etc. InfoPath 2007 (version 2) wasn’t much better. Sure, a few of these gaps were filled – a UserName function was made available – but the focus was on browser-based forms. InfoPath 2010 invested further in SharePoint (Microsoft has to make money selling SharePoint these days now that Office sales are saturated) and the changes to the rich client were mostly to implement the Office ribbon. Still, today, most forms need a small amount of code to do a few simple things. That’s really too bad because it creates a barrier to most people using InfoPath.

Finally, the Promised Land!

After leaving Microsoft we became InfoPath consultants (Qdabra has the most InfoPath MVPs in the World - WooHoo!) and the first thing we did was to create a common library of code snippets to cover these "codeless" gaps. We called this library qRules. qRules lets you use rules in place of code. You know you love creating rules, and so do we - no code required. It’s been nearly two years since we released the first version of qRules. Today, qRules contains ~25 of the most commonly requested functions accessible via rules. We’ve even extended qRules to do things that aren’t available in InfoPath today – like encrypting fields. Finally, with qRules, we can make good on the promise that 75% of all InfoPath forms don’t need code. That’s good for you because you can do more with less and you don't need a developer to do it.  

Give qRules a try for free today. Here’s a link:

Published Mar 23 2010, 07:28 PM by Patrick Halstead
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Sunjay said:

hi patrick

totally agree. Now i have a quick question or a comment. How does Qdabra DBXL/Q Rules differ in the SP 2010? meaning that InfoPath 2010 is integrated with SharePoint forms, so what is the story to tell the users why Q DBXL/Q Rules. Sure i have played with InfoPath 2010, but then every ones playing with a toy is different than actually working it. I am trying to leverage Infoapth with Q DBXL and just wanted to know going forward what is the USP for Q DXL. Would higly appreciate your thoughts on this.


March 24, 2010 9:43 AM

Patrick Halstead said:

Hi Sunjay,

Sorry for the delay in responding. Basically, for SharePoint 2010, the same gaps exist and DBXL is still needed to codelessly submit XML forms to SQL. You can submit flat lists to SharePoint and using BCS push and pull that data to SQL but to do repeating tables and rich data types, you still need a Web Service and that's what DBXL provides. DBXL is a generic data-driven Web service, so you can change your XSN data source or the tables in SQL and it won't break the submission process. qRules is still needed to fill all of the gaps in InfoPath where you need to write code - qRules lets you do a bunch of cool things without writing code, just use rules to access the functionality. I hope that answers your question. Of course, we'd be happy to discuss it further with you.

April 28, 2010 2:44 PM

About Patrick Halstead

Hello! I am the founder of Qdabra Software, a small bootstrap software company focused on electronic forms for customers of all stripes. We help organizations design and implement solutions using off-the-shelf technologies such as Office 365, SharePoint and InfoPath. We help you build form solutions in the cloud or on premises. My hobbies include running, hiking, independent film, and Japanese culture.
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