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​​Saturday, May 20, 2017

By Jim Hidson ​,

Business Development Manager & SharePoint Consultant at ITLAQ Technologies Inc.

Questions about SPARK Forms builder for SharePoint tend to run along these lines: Will using SPARK truly save me money? Will I be able to have a highly-customized​​ SharePoint Form? Will I ever need to use InfoPath again?

Good questions, for starters, but you probably have more. Check your list against these 10 questions about SPARK Forms Builder and InfoPath.

Question 1: How much money would SPARK cost me?

This is the main question that most users think of first when start looking for an InfoPath alternative. When you start comparing products and solutions, you need to group them by their functionalities, features and ROI, it is a common mistake to comparing them only by their title. Believe me when I say that not every solution o​r product having "Forms" in its title is an effective SharePoint forms builder, I have spent a lot of time examining, testing and evaluating many products that are available in the market, many of them are just plain worthless and provide nothing to the users. After this intensive testing, I found that I need to categorize the solutions into three main groups, as follows:

  1. Simple Forms editors: Solutions under this group have a common way of functioning. They use control settings in a specific template, sort them out, and publish them to SharePoint environment by inserting html code manually into web parts. In general, such solutions are cheap because they don’t provide much in the way of functionality and features. It appears the developers have not invested a lot of time and effort in developing them.
  2. Forms Designers: These are considered more advanced forms solutions than the first group. They provide some additional functionality for customizing the controls styles. User can publish the form to a list by clicking on a "publish" button and will then be able to add custom JS code to provide extra functionalities, if desired.
  3. Forms Builders: Considered the major advanced forms building and designing solutions, these include SPARK, Nintex and K2 . With these solutions you can build a comprehensive, advanced, highly customized and responsive UX forms. Users can build their own rules and functions as they are not tied down by the boundaries of the wizard dialogs. As with the designers, users can add their own JS/JQ scripts or use their built-in functions with conjunction of their own scripts. They are unlimited and very powerful tools that, of course, have all the other features of the previous two categories including publishing, designing, styling and managing the forms.

Returning to cost, it is simple: you must compare the prices of the solutions for every category separately. It is difficult to compare the price of category three with the other two categories as it is so much more advanced over them that they make the other two look silly when they might have value for simpler needs. SPARK costs about 65% less than the cheapes​t solution in the third category. But with that you still get unlimited functionalities and a fairly advanced forms builder for a very reasonable price.

You don’t have to link good quality forms builder solution with high prices anymore, the equation has been changed forever; you can now have a powerful solution for a low price! Decide the level of your needs then examine the tools and see which fit your needs and budget for the best ROI.

My next article will be about the second question in the list (How would SPARK affect my SharePoint environment?).