After Microsoft announced the deprecation of InfoPath Web Forms in 2014, there has been much speculation as to what would be coming forth to replace InfoPath. As explained during this announcement, Microsoft was setting itself on a path to develop an integrated forms technology that allows the user to design and deploy intelligent forms across various platforms including tablets, smart phones and PCs all the while providing quick access to the data.
In April 2016, Microsoft announced Microsoft Forms would be available in its early format in Office 365 but only for the Education module. There has been some ability to access the preview, and from what can be seen, Microsoft Forms is not a replacement for InfoPath. Rather, it is an excellent tool for forms collaboration across platforms and audiences on both PC and mobile.
Once launched in the preview, Microsoft Forms has a look and feel like any other Microsoft application – top three dots in the top right corner provides the options to provide Feedback, ask for Help, navigate to your Office 365 Account Profile, or sign out.
The site has integrated the look and feel of Sway with each created form represented by a tile. If you’re not familiar with Sway, Sway is an application that allows the user to create and interactively share presentations, stories, reports and much more. Similar to SharePoint Mobile App, Sway has the intelligence to provide suggestions for adding content like images, videos, and tweets that are relevant to your project without you having to exit and search on the web.
Sway provides an organized and clean view of your forms. Each form is represented by a tile and each tile clearly shows the title of the form along with its subtitle. From this page, you have the ability to create a new form by selecting New Form.
Once selected, you can begin creating your form by naming your form and providing a subtitle. You are now ready for the next step – creating the form. Creating the form is very simple. You must decide upon the format of the form and there are three styles that you can choose: Choice, Text and Rating.
Choice is set up as a question and answer form with choices. You have the option of adding additional questions to the default two question slots. The form can be customized to an extent. There is the capability of adding the parameter of “Answer Required” to ensure that the question is answered. There is also the ability to add a subset question to the main question if more context is needed. Quite often, the answer for a subset question is one that the responder answers in their own words, and this can be done through the Other option.
Text is a simple and straightforward question and answer form. You develop the questions and the responder is provided space to respond with their own answers. Answers can be limited or unlimited in character count.
Rating forms provide your audience the opportunity to rate something such as skill, applicability, abilities, taste, or satisfaction. The rating scale is set at either 5 or 10 with the option of expressing the rating with stars or numbers.
Microsoft Forms web app continually and automatically saves your work and once you have finished designing your form, you have the ability to either preview it before sharing or share without previewing. If you choose Preview, then you will have the opportunity of previewing from two views: a computer view and a mobile view.
Once you are satisfied with your form, you can proceed to share it with your audience. Sharing your form, or quiz, can be as simple as sharing in an email the URL, a QR code or the embed code. There is also the opportunity to provide additional information to your audience such as whether they need to login to access the questions, whether it is a one-time only quiz or if they can answer the quiz multiple times, and the deadline to complete the quiz. Because this will be launched with the Education module, there is an excellent option that allows you to shuffle the questions when they load. This is great for administering classroom quizzes.
Providing a form for a quiz or survey is only as good as the information that can be gathered from it. Microsoft Forms provides a summary of how your audience has answered the quiz or survey. Under the Responses tab, one can find the results of the quiz including the number of responses, the average time to complete, whether the form is still active and open for submissions, a visual graph of the responses and the average rating. Currently, there is the option to download your quiz to your PC with the Open in Excel option. Perhaps in the future, this option will be replaced with Save in OneDrive to maintain consistency with the direction of SharePoint Mobile App and Office 365.
Though Microsoft Forms for Office 365 and SharePoint 2016 have not been released, it has been released as a preview for the Education Module. From this preview, we can see that this application provides the user the flexibility to elicit information from a targeted audience, gather analytics, and based on this, provide solutions. Microsoft Forms is another step towards the direction of integrated, cross platform, collaborative, and mobile applications.