Nintex Forms and Workflows

The main tools to utilize in SharePoint development of forms and workflows have been InfoPath and SharePoint Designer.  However, with Microsoft’s latest updates in 2016, new versions of InfoPath and SharePoint Designer were missing from the list.  Microsoft has stated that there won’t be new versions of InfoPath, and it seems to be the case with Designer as well.  Both will be supported by Microsoft for years to come, but existing versions aren’t very intuitive.  Without future improvements, it may be time for businesses to look at other options.  One such option that stands out from the rest is Nintex Workflows and Forms

Nintex extends SharePoint’s functionality, giving a user-friendly way to create what would normally take extensive programming to achieve.  The two products they offer are Nintex Forms and Nintex Workflows.  They can be purchased and utilized separately if needed.  Nintex is also compatible with both SharePoint on-premise and Office 365.

Workflows are key in automating processes that would normally require a manual effort.  Workflows can be either scheduled to run or can be triggered by an event.  Nintex Workflows accomplishes this simply by point-and-click.  Nintex Workflows provides an interface with drag and drop actions that can be specifically configured to users’ needs.  In the workflow designer, you are given a flowchart view of the actions within the workflow.  A menu of draggable actions are shown to the left of this section.  Email notifications, setting SharePoint fields, assigning a task to users, and triggering another workflow are all standard options in the menu.  In addition, actions normally reserved for programming can be employed, such as setting variables, loops, and if-statements.

Forms are critical for easily capturing information and setting fields in SharePoint.  Similar to Nintex Workflows, forms can be built through Nintex using drag and drop.  A variety of form controls are available in the menu that can be placed on the form’s canvas.  These include all the basic form fields like labels, textboxes, checkboxes, and radio lists.  Once placed on the canvas, the fields can be connected to SharePoint fields.  However, there is also a tab containing all the fields in the associated SharePoint list.  These can be dragged onto the canvas as well, looking to column type to determine which form control is necessary.  For more advanced users, there is a section in the settings to add CSS and JavaScript to extend Nintex out of the box functionality.  The configuration options for each field allows for CSS classes and JavaScript IDs to be set.

Nintex will be an additional cost to SharePoint’s out of the box fees, but will allow for more extensive forms and workflows to be created with far less development time.  An additional advantage to Nintex is that a programming background is not required when setting up basic workflows and forms.  However, when working on more intricate solutions, programming experience certainly helps.

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